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April 2014

Competing Approaches to Social Accountability

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture
Advocates of social accountability approaches believe that regular elections are not enough to bring about a change in service delivery

Seeking accountability from public service providers remains one of the most prominent governance challenges in developing countries. In recent years, there has been a burst of social accountability tools, and NGOs and governments have promoted their use widely. Broadly, social accountability refers to approaches that seek to foster accountability through enhanced civil society engagement.

The advocates of social accountability approaches believe that the regular cycle of elections—in spite of the near continuous cycle of elections for the village councils, state and centre—are not enough to bring about a substantive change in service delivery. In this context, there is the opportunity to experiment with alternative mechanisms of fostering social accountability. Researchers at the Centre for Future State of the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, conclude from their field studies in Delhi and Sao Paulo, Brazil, that social accountability tools can be used to set the minimum required standard of public services by “highlighting deficiencies in existing provision or entitlements”. This also works when citizens’ demands are “framed in terms of legal or moral rights”.

As a set of approaches for “good governance”, social accountability tools represent an interesting collection of hypotheses. One, that involving citizens in local planning, budgeting and spending decisions will ensure that the design and implementation of public services is pro-poor. Local governments and decentralized systems for local planning and service delivery are the usual form in which this approach manifests itself.

Turning on the Spigot for Crisp, Clear Water

On a warm Friday afternoon in the slums of Madhukam, in the heart of Ranchi, India, a middle-aged man arrived at a public water station with two 20-liter containers to fill. The water station - directly adjacent to an open sewage drain - was really just a concerete wall with four pink spigots protruding from its barren surface. On top perched two large, seemingly empty holding tanks of water. The man placed one of his containers under the first spigot and turned the handle. A small flow of water came out. Within a minute, the flow turned into a trickle, and the trickle quickly became nothing. The man moved to the next spigot, and then the next, only to have all four repeat the same pattern. In the end, the man left carrying only six ounces of water in his two 20-liter containers.

How We’re Taking On Extreme Poverty

Jim Yong Kim's picture



Next week, we’ll be hosting our Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., which will attract a few thousand leaders in development from around the world. To set the stage for these meetings, I talked this week about the fundamental issues in global development and how we’re undergoing dramatic changes inside the World Bank Group to meet those great challenges.

We live in an unequal world. The gaps between the rich and poor are as obvious here in Washington, D.C., as they are in any capital. Yet, those excluded from economic progress remain largely invisible to many of us in the rich world. In the words of Pope Francis, “That homeless people freeze to death on the street is not news. But a drop … in the stock market is a tragedy.”

While we in the rich world may be blind to the suffering of the poor, the poor throughout the world are very much aware of how the rich live. And they have shown they are willing to take action.

Campaign Art: Mine Kafon

Roxanne Bauer's picture

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

This week, the United Nations and countries around the world will observe International Mine Awareness Day on April 4, 2012, as they have every April 4 since 2006.

The following video captures the "Mine Kafon" (Mine Detonator), a wind-powered device designed and built by hand by Massoud Hassani.  It is heavy enough to trip land mines as it rolls across the ground but 120 times cheaper than traditional techniques.  Hassani drew his inspiration from his childhood on the outskirts of Kabul, where he and his younger brother would play with their homemade, wind-powered toys. These toys would sometimes be blown astray, rolling out into the desert amongst landmines, too dangerous to retrieve.

Mine Kafon

In a Beirut neighborhood, Syrian artists probe the cost of war

Paige Donnelly's picture
Fadi Al Hamwi

​Classical music welcomed me into Fadi Al Hamwi’s flat in the Gemmayze neighborhood of Beirut. His room was simple and distinctive. Instead of furniture occupying the space, he had lined it with art. Music swelled around us and half-finished, dramatic life-size paintings leaned against the walls. Fadi, a 27-year-old painter from the Syrian capital  of Damascus, had moved to Beirut almost two years ago. On the walls were a series of X-ray portraits, mostly of animals. He said his art explored the lack of humanity in the Syrian war, exposing men and woman stripped to the structure of their bones.

What if you and I were born on the same day?

Luis Andres's picture



Let’s say we are both girls born on farms in remote villages at the foothills of mountains, but you were born at the foothills of the Himalayas and I, somewhere at the foothills of the Swiss Alps. You are the first of five children and I have only one younger sister. What do you suppose our lives growing up would be like?
 
I have access to a road that leads me to school every day and to hospitals when I need it. I have electricity so that I can do my homework in the evenings and my mother can cook using a clean stove. We have heat. I even have telecommunication services for when I want to talk to my uncle who lives in Nova Friburgo, Brazil. And my bathroom is indoors because it separates us from our waste.

Looking at Shared Prosperity in Romania: Video Blog by Laura Tuck, Vice President of the Europe and Central Asia Region at the World Bank

Laura Tuck's picture

Laura Tuck, Vice President for the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region, talks about growth in Romania and looks at the country's commitment to the shared prosperity agenda.


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