The “aggregate value of social audit in Paraguay” roundtable took place in Asunción, Paraguay, on September 13, 2016, where World Bank (WB) Regional Vice President, Jorge Familiar, and the Minister of Secretariat of Social Action (SAS), Héctor Cárdenas, discussed the importance of social audit initiatives that the World Bank supports in the country, particularly ones that improve the conditional cash transfers (CCT) social protection program, Tekoporã.
During the opening speech, Mr. Familiar expressed that social protection is a priority for the Latin-American World Bank agenda, and moreover, he said, “Now that the world is facing an economic slowdown in an adverse environment, it is necessary to make adjustments.” He remarked that by “focusing public expenses in the most critical areas, always, during this adjustment process, the poor are who suffer the most.”
Likewise, he emphasized that this social protection mechanism allows poor families to access education, better health, and improve living standards – and so it becomes a virtuous circle to help poor households to break the intergenerational poverty loop. Thus, social protection programs are “the ones that produce important social transformation at a regional level and as we can see in Paraguay today,” he stated.
Mr. Familiar also mentioned the zero tolerance level on which the Latin-American region is standing in terms of corruption. He highlighted the importance of the social audit process, citizen engagement, and social accountability, and how these initiatives have become much more relevant today than during past years.
Along this line, Minister Cárdenas expressed, “For the current government, transparency and accountability are [the] main axis of governance, and the SAS is moving forward with its implementation even though the SAS was already promoting a transparent institution by open different program lists to the public even before the Access to Public Information Law was enforced.” Also, the Minister agreed that the citizens, particularly in Paraguay, are less tolerant to dishonored situations.
WB Senior Social Development Specialist and Project Manager, Graciela Sánchez Martínez, enhanced the conversation by bringing up the importance of the Ñañomoirũ Project for the Bank portfolio. She commented that Paraguay has placed a focus on the centrality of accountability and citizen engagement across the portfolio, including support on existing portfolio initiatives at project/sector level, such as Tekoporã Social Audit and rural development including indigenous populations, water and sanitation and transport/roads sectors.
Other participants that contributed to the discussion include the WB Country Director, Jesko Hentschel and Fundación CIRD Executive President, Agustín Carrizosa, among other project members, SAS officials and key stakeholders.
Last but not least, Leticia Alcaraz, the Ñañomoirũ field work Coordinator, presented the results of the first application of the Citizen Report Card to Tekoporã beneficiaries in Paraguay. Some of the key results of the report were as follows:
Major positive qualifications about Tekoporã:
92% of families find it easy to withdraw the money, and 99% are satisfied with the Tekoporã “Guía Familiar” supportive role;
Majority of families qualified as positive and very positive the last health service they experienced, 99.6% of children are vaccinated;
95% of children between 5-18 years old were assisted to school, 92.4% qualified as positive and very positive the school of their community.
There are also some challenges to be addressed by Tekoporã:
Only 7.4% of the families know about the Citizen Participation Roundtable and its role for Tekoporã;
39.7% of families said that they do not have health services in their communities;
5% of families do not assist children to school either because they are working or have health problems;
28% of families do not know where to go in case they have claims about the program.
Photo: Mike Karbeling (USAID), Fernando Cosich (USAID), Celia Ortega (BM), Jorge Familiar (BM), Héctor Cárdenas (SAS), Jesko Hentschel (BM), Agustín Carrizosa (CIRD).
Tekoporã is the conditional cash transfer program executed by the Secretariat of Social Action (Secretaría de Acción Social - SAS in Spanish), along with the Ministry of Education and Health (MEC and MSPBS in Spanish respectively), which is part of the National Poverty Reduction Program called “Sembrando Oportunidades” of the Paraguayan government. Tekoporã’s objective is to improve the quality of life of vulnerable and extreme-poor population by facilitating families the right of education, health and nutrition; and by strengthening their networks to avoid the intergenerational poverty transmission. It targets households that include children from 0-18 year old, pregnant women, elderly people, people with disabilities and indigenous families living in poverty situation. Nowadays, the program has national coverage and it includes 132,760 households in 226 districts of the 17 departments on Paraguay.
The Ñañomoirũ – Tekoporã’s social audit project - aims to strengthen the feedback loop of Tekoporã to ensure sound information to improve the program. For this purpose, Ñañomoirũ will use Citizen Report Cards and Community Score Cards to gather information from the beneficiaries and from staff responsible of its implementation. The information will be used to improve the management of the program, develop institutional arrangements to improve coordination between SAS, MEC and MSPBS, and raise awareness and public support for Tekoporã’s sustainability as an important social protection policy to eradicate poverty in Paraguay. Along these lines, the GPSA and World Bank support the project executor - NGO Fundación CIRD – on the achievement of the 3 project components defined by: i) strengthening beneficiaries’ voice and oversight from civil society; ii) improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the CCT program; and iii) managing knowledge for program transparency, improvement and sustainability. The Project will be implemented in 5 districts from 4 departments of Paraguay.
The full version of the Report can be downloaded from Ñañomoirũ Project Official Website. http://www.auditoriasocial.org.py/