Syndicate content

Add new comment

Making social accountability part of Mongolia’s DNA

Marcela Rozo's picture
Mongolia has made good progress in its economic and political transitions during the last two decades, but this growth has not been fully translated into improved quality of public services, particularly for the poor and vulnerable. Despite the government’s legal and regulatory reforms to improve transparency and citizen participation in the management of public funds, the pace of implementation is still lagging.  

As Mongolia suffers with economic instability due to external and internal circumstances, how can we improve performance of basic public services in a way that works well in the Mongolian context but also brings sustained outcomes?
Local champions for social accountability are building their vision for the project.
© SDC and World Bank Mongolia
As a successful young democracy, Mongolia’s made progress on multi-stakeholder dialogue, having strong CSO participation on development issues over the last 5 years.  But such dialogues have not been effectively translated into improved governance. Social accountability needs to be supported and mainstreamed, particularly in public service delivery.

Building on results of previously successful development projects in the country, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the World Bank (WB) believe that with a comprehensive approach to social accountability in Mongolia, real change can be achieved. This is why they are supporting the Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia (MASAM) project with a focus on the Education and Health sectors in 10 aimags (provinces) and 3 districts of Ulaanbaatar, targeting poor and vulnerable communities.

Social accountability refers to the broad range of actions and mechanisms beyond voting that citizens can use to hold the state accountable and make it responsive to their needs, as well as actions on the part of government, civil society, media, and other societal actors that promote or facilitate these efforts.
 
MASAM is seeking to deliver an innovative approach to build capacity of local stakeholders by putting them on the driver’s seat in defining the focus of the project interventions. The goal is to build a new style of collaborative engagement between governments and citizen groups so that they jointly prioritize their most pressing service delivery problems and find ways to solve them by using social accountability as an engagement vehicle to drive the necessary changes. The project expects to institutionalize an active multi-stakeholder collaboration among public administrations, local citizens’ assembly representatives, service providers, CSOs, media and communities in local level in such a way that – even after MASAM is long gone – social accountability becomes part of the DNA of the relationship between local governments and citizens in the selected areas.

Since the project launched in November 2015, over 650 people representing local key stakeholders have gained a better understanding of social accountability, and have organized multi-stakeholder groups who are now working with national NGOs with knowledge and experience in this area. Through this partnership, local groups have designed specific interventions and successfully applied for grants from the MASAM program. They are now ready to implement their projects to improve service delivery in Health and Education.

In parallel, MASAM works with the Cabinet Secretariat, line ministries, national and city sector agencies so that reliable and user friendly information is available to facilitate social accountability. Their involvement will also ensure that feedback emerging from social accountability tools at the local level provides valuable input into policy on Education and Health. 

You can find more information on the project and on Social Accountability in Mongolia in the recently launched www.irgen-tur.mn

After the June general election in Mongolia, political will from the national government and new local governments’ leadership has already been secured, and the project’s objectives are now part of the 2016-2018 National Action Plan of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). 

All partners involved are committed to ensuring that MASAM makes a long-lasting impact on the quality of Education and Health services for all, contributing to Mongolia’s equitable and sustainable development.

What do you think of MASAM’s approach? Feel free to share your experience on mainstreaming social accountability in public services in the comments below.