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Why don't we see social accountability in the Pacific?

Nicholas Menzies's picture
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Transparent notification of fees on the main door of a rural church-run hospital in Western Province, Papua New Guinea.

From participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil (pdf) to health clinic scorecards in Uganda social accountability mechanisms are a familiar feature of the development landscape across most regions of the world…so why not in the South-West Pacific?

One reason service delivery is poor in many Pacific states is that the same challenges that make it difficult to deliver services also make it difficult for officials to go out and account for them - dispersed populations; high transport costs; and a limited number of trained officials to supervise. This lack of oversight by government officials contributes to shoddy or non-existent services.

Can social accountability make up for some of the shortcomings in government accountability? Social accountability is the fostering of direct linkages between citizens and service providers. It can be thought of as working both prior to the delivery of a service (for example, residents meet with local government officials to set budgets so that spending aligns with community needs) as well as after a service has - or has not - been delivered (such as a complaints mechanism for residents to report police who fail to respond to calls for help).

Kenya's quiet revolution

Johannes Zutt's picture

Kenya is in the midst of a quiet revolution—but many people, even in Kenya, seem to be unaware of it, or the enormous governance improvements that it is likely to bring.

We saw a new Kenya emerging last Friday when President Kibaki presided over an historic event that was hard to imagine in the old Kenya:   the launch of a government website, www.opendata.go.ke , that makes enormous volumes of government data available to the public in user-friendly formats. 

For the first time in Kenya’s history, core government data on population, the budget, education, health care and other public services are available to policy-makers, researchers, ICT developers, and citizens in an easily-accessible format.  This portal is one of the first and largest government portals with reusable data in sub-Saharan Africa, making Kenya one of the world’s leading exemplars of open data (see Time magazine's "Silicon Savanna").

But many observers of Kenya are unimpressed.  Why is that? 

World Bank Provides Further Support to Afghanistan’s ICT Sector

Siddhartha Raja's picture

I'm happy to share that the ICT Sector Development Project for Afghanistan, a US$50 million IDA emergency grant, was approved by the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank on April 26, 2011. The Project is now effective and promises to be an exciting continuation of our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan in developing the ICT sector.

Read more about the Project here.

HIV/AIDS, the silent war in Africa

Damien de Walque's picture

Under-5 mortality is often used—perhaps implicitly—as a measure of “population health”.  But what is happening to adult mortality in Africa? 

In a recent working paperi , we combine data from 84 Demographic and Health Surveys from 46 countries, and calculate mortality based on the sibling mortality reports collected from female respondents aged 15-49. The working paper is available here and the database we used for the analysis can be found here.

We find that adult mortality is quite different from child mortality (under-5 mortality)1.   This is perhaps obvious to most readers, but is clearly illustrated in figure 1. While in general both under-5 and adult mortality decline with per-capita income, and over time, the latter effect is much smaller for adult mortality, which has barely shifted in countries outside Africa between 1975-79 and 2000-04.

But in sub-Saharan Africa, contrary to under-5 mortality everywhere and to adult mortality outside of Africa, adult mortality increased between 1975-79 and 2000-04 and the relationship between adult mortality and income became positive in Africa as indicated by the upward sloping line in 2000-04.

This diverging and dramatic trend for sub-Saharan Africa is mainly driven by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

Reducing the Infant Mortality of African Exports: The role of information spillovers and network effects

Leonardo Iacovone's picture

Helping African exporters survive in international markets should be a high-priority item on the agenda of development agencies. African exports suffer from high “infant mortality” compared to other regions of the world: Figure 1 shows that the life expectancy of export spells originating from sub-Saharan Africa is about two years (half the level for East Asia and the Pacific), with a median—not shown—around one year. That is, half of the continent’s exporters don’t make it past the first year. Such “hit-and-runs” on international markets cannot establish networks, relationships, and credibility.

Figure 1: Average Spell Survival, by exporting region

Source: Author's calculations, from COMTRADE data

I was there when the Republic of South Sudan was born!

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture


Obiageli Ezekwesili (c) with South Sudan President Salva Kiir (r). Photo: Laura Kullenberg, The World Bank

4:00 AM: I wake up this morning in Nairobi unusually excited and think to myself, “today is actually the Independence Day of South Sudan. Wow! This day has finally come!” I say a word of prayer for the day and get myself ready for the 5:30 a.m. trip to the airport to board our flight to Juba.

Time to engage the private sector on climate finance

Alan Miller's picture

I was at the Climate Investment Funds meetings in Cape Town last week with several other representatives from development banks, NGOs and governments to discuss results, impacts and the future of this financial mechanism. One of many themes cutting across meetings in Cape Town was the importance and challenge of engaging the private sector in climate finance. The private sector is by far the largest source of investment, the dominant provider of technology, and often essential for implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures. However, based on the discussions this week, it’s apparent there is much to learn about what is actually expected or sought from the business community. Here are some of my observations from the meeting:

  1. In my experience references to “the” private sector are common but largely meaningless and often confusing in failing to distinguish between entities as different as major multinational manufacturers, international financiers, and locally- based entrepreneurs. Some speakers even used the term more broadly to encompass markets, including policies directed at consumers.
  2. There are some unavoidable tensions between emphasizing country plans and priorities and the promotion of markets for climate-friendly products and services. This is particularly true in smaller and poorer countries. Control of donor resources is fundamental for many governments but sometimes difficult to reconcile with the flexibility, consistency, and speed required by investors. Public-private partnerships (the focus of a Cape Town session) is one solution but not always appropriate or workable.   Finding models which can blend the two, as in the collaborative IFC/World Bank Lighting Africa project, will be increasingly important. The World Bank was able to build a relationship with energy ministries while IFC focused on helping businesses. Together, they have been able to address a wide range of issues from regulatory systems to that of supply chain development.

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