Community of Practices on Social Accountability (SAc) tools: A Living Network for SAc Promotion across SA

News Pakistan, May 02, 2012

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability South Asia Region (ANSA-SAR) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) along with other number of local organizations are partners for promoting Social Accountability (SAc)
in Pakistan. This partnership, in last one year or so, has led to the implementation of SAc tools in the country in a wide range of services including education, land, water and sanitation.

Social Accountability is a relatively newer concept in South Asia. Originated and implemented first in India, the idea exhibits the essence of democracy and lays out a road map to good governance. It stands for citizen’s participation
in decision making process, calls for empowerment of marginalized groups and through promoting transparency and answerability among the public officials, it ensures poverty reduction and increased development effectiveness. In last one year, amid the funding received from ANSA, organizations like SDPI, Hisaar Foundation and Shehri organization have become capable of sensitizing the masses in Pakistan to exercise their right to demand for quality service delivery.

Moreover, besides approaching the ordinary citizens, the SDPI has also set a nationwide Pakistan Social Accountability Network (PSAN) to which over 100 organizations are active members, while many more of them are contacting to be a part of this network.

About four months back, ANSA, that is simultaneously funding similar activities in other South Asian countries, and that is thoroughly in touch and involved with for facilitating the respective partners, realized that while response
from civil society and development organizations for the promotion of SAc was good, their capacity needed to be built and expertise be enhanced for a greater understanding of the cause they were working for. On recognition of these thoughts, it was also realized
that since SAc practice will be an ongoing process, the learning and capacity building process should also be sustainable. This led to the idea of creating a Community of Practices (CoP) on Social Accountability tools in South Asia.

For formal creation of this CoP, it was essential to decide on its mandate and responsibilities while being considerate to the status of SAc practices and implementation of its tools in every member country in South Asia. In this
regards the ANSA decided to hold in-country consultation workshops in the respective countries. These workshops were to later on provide their input in the Inception and Design workshop on Community of Practices on Social Accountability (CoPSA) tools that took place from February 29 to March 1 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Anchored by CUTS International at South Asia level and by SDPI in Pakistan, this CoPSA workshop was convened to deliberate on the formation of the means that may take forward the ANSA’s work on Social Accountability. This required creating and maintaining good relations with the potential donors and building on the social accountability agenda in the respective countries. Attended by participants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, the CoPSA intended to create a community of professionals and organizations that may invest, build, convene, provide, share and advocate for strengthening, spreading and institutionalizing social accountability. Moreover, it was also realized that this community will need to build a sense of belonging among the members as well as utilizing its internal energy, character and direction for refinement in its approach.

The essential objectives of this CoPSA workshop included

a) creation of a platform for sharing knowledge, experience, tools and lessons

b) strengthening networking among the members and stakeholders

c) sensitizing governments anddonors

d) building capacity of the members and promotion of the innovation process.

With regards to the expected outcomes, the perceived points included

a) enhanced visibility and support for the SAc practices

b) sensitized donors

c) a functioning network with

d) enhanced capacity of the members.

During the workshop, all the participants were invited to share the findings of the in-country consultation workshops respectively held in their countries. These presentations broadly took stock of the ongoing SAc work in each
country, the challenges they faced, how they were to overcome them and the opportunities on which further work could be based. The workshop ended with CUTS international briefly sharing its findings of the event through a presentation. On final day of the event, all the countries were tasked with to briefly take stock of the SAc work in their respective countries, find out and contact potential members/ partners of CoPSA and share all these findings with the CUTS in coming days. All these information shared wit the CUTS will be pasted on the community of practices of social accountability’s website that is presently in its making.

The news item can also be viewed at: