With mobilization, participation is about meeting the interests of the whole community. When every member of a community has the chance, directly or through representation, to participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of community-level initiatives, there is a higher likelihood that planned actions accurately reflects their real needs and interests. The approach takes into consideration the different experiences, needs and capabilities of various individuals or groups in a community – women and men, youth and the elderly, persons with disabilities and the able bodied, ethnic/religious/language minorities and majorities. Rather than “passive participation,” youths should aim to inspire “self-mobilization”, where people organize and take initiative independent of any external actors.
Accountability is basically the process of sharing information about actions or intentions. Groups and individuals in relationships are accountable to each other when they honour their commitment to communicate plans and are responsible for what they actually do. In Mobilizing for Social Accountability, every group and all citizens have the right to know the procedures, decision-making processes and financial flows of the programs. Transparency helps ensure that decisions that affect the group are made in a socially responsible way – that particular groups, such as ethnic minorities or persons with disabilities, are not excluded from the benefits of projects or activities.
Governance in general relates to the process of decision-making and how those decisions are implemented. Accountability is an essential characteristic of good governance, where leaders are accountable for their decisions to people affected by those decisions. When these processes are institutionalized they become a system of government. Governance is good when it is accountable, transparent, just, responsive and participatory. Good governance is a goal of mobilization, plus a condition for all development initiatives to be sustainable.
By focusing on overarching problems that have been identified by the group mobilization efforts must take conflict dynamics and even positive tensions into account. The following are a set of questions to answer:
- Which actions can best build on connections across the group instead of fuelling tensions?
- How does an activity affect perceptions of disparity and access?
- What precautions do we need to take?