Published on Arab Voices

ANSA-Arab World: Networking the excitement of a new MENA mindset

World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2012In Rabat recently, civil society, private sector, media and government representatives from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region warmly greeted each other. They asked about family and friends, customary to the region’s tradition, but there was something unique about this gathering: the participants talked about the region’s transition, youth movements, activists, constitutions, and reforms – sharing each other’s dreams and concerns.

One of the group’s common goals in coming together in Morocco’s sunny capital was the establishment of the ANSA-Arab World (Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability), the region’s network of social accountability practitioners supporting awareness and capacity building.  As the first social accountability network in MENA, ANSA – Arab World, aims to support constructive engagement and partnership between civil society organizations, governments, media and the private sector.

ANSA-AW members have made significant progress since their first meeting in Cairo in October 2010 where the social accountability approach was first presented. On July 2011 in Amman, they agreed on the priority themes at the heart of the region’s change: access to information, budget transparency, freedom of association, and service delivery. In March, the members gathered in Rabat to officially launch the ANSA-AW.  As one member noted with passion: “The network’s ownership by its members is key. They are the leaders who will have to broaden the network’s base and spread the culture of social accountability in the region.”

From Cairo to Amman and now to Rabat, the brainstorming, agreeing, disagreeing, debating, expressing and sharing new ideas symbolized the region’s passion and vision for the future. In the same spirit, a Task Force representing seven of the region’s countries prepared and drafted the Charter, laying out the network’s vision, mission, eligibility criteria, and governance structure into the early hours of the morning.  The following day, they integrated additional comments and finalized the document. 

No more time to waste, no more excuses, we need to act now,” said one young and passionate participant.“We can affect change only if we raise awareness on the principles of social accountability in order to change the culture and promote a new understanding of our rights and responsibilities.

It was great to witness and be part of such an exciting dynamic as ANSA-AW continues to grow and strengthen. Encouraging a dialogue between the state and its citizens, as a new chapter unfolds in the MENA region, is contributing to a new culture and mindset based on social accountability. 

Citizens of the Arab World in Dialogue Slideshow.


Najat Yamouri

Senior Social Development Specialist

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