Social accountability relates to community-based initiatives intended to improve transparency and access to information by holding the state and its agents accountable (Gaventa & McGee. 2010). Malena et al (2004) explain this concept in the context of demand for good governance; it is referred as strengthening the voice and building the capacity of the citizens to demand for greater accountability and responsiveness of the public authorities and service providers. Social accountability is also closely linked with the concept of citizen-led accountability. A study by World Bank (2005) defines social accountability as a demand-side effort of good governance and explains how communities can best interact with local governments, service providers and the actors of the state for demanding better service delivery in for example education and health.
The effectiveness of the social accountability tools is highly dependent on the way in which it is initiated and exercised. National Institute of Administrative Research in their study relates the effectiveness and success of social accountability mechanisms with its institutionalization; indirectly social accountability mechanisms try to improve the efficiency and performance of government officials and politicians.
Social accountability is a new buzzword for the development partners around the world in order to understand the state and society’s synergy that can be helpful for better provision of public services (King, 2014). In the long-term the major advantages of social accountability are that it has the potential to lead to poverty reduction, enhanced service delivery, people-centric policies, empowerment of citizens and thus strengthening the democratic processes (IDS, 2006). Social accountability is also closely related to the general concept of voice and accountability.
The concept of voice given by Brown et al (2008) explains that it is actually the capacity of citizens to express their views, demanding their basic rights and complaining to those who are responsible and in control. Voice is more effectual if it is done by lobbying, protest and through proper complaint mechanisms. Accountability generically speaking is the relationship between state (national and local levels) and its people (Foresti et al., 2007). Voice and Accountability are closely interrelated but it doesn’t mean they are the same, organized voices leads to accountability and vice versa.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA) (2012) provides a compact framework for social accountability: The four pillars to social accountability are 1) organized and capable public groups, 2) responsible government, 3) access to information, 4) sensitivity to culture and context. In order to achieve a smooth and well-functioning demand side mechanisms and functions civic engagement is of high importance. Different social accountability tools used all around the world include: citizens charter, check-list of entitlements, participatory budgeting, budget tracking, Right to Information (RTI), awareness of relevant laws, civic education, community score card (CRC), citizens report card (CRC), participatory planning and community led procurements (Khadka & Bhattarai 2012).
For detailed paper and reference please check: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0049085716666601