If produced results, social accountability could be the most effective way to bring Good Governance

New Delhi, February 14, 2012

Using Social Accountability Tools is the most effective and economical way to bring Good Governance, if results are produced, said Roland Lomme, Governance Advisor, The World Bank. He was delivering the inaugural address in a national consultation organised by Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) at the India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi on the ‘Community of Practice on Social Accountability (CoPSA)’. He further said that social accountability is quite a known concept now within the circle of donor agencies that with low cost techniques and tools, it can leverage 1000 million programmes by spending $20 million and improve service delivery for the beneficiaries. But there is a doubt about the tangible outcome of social accountability, which particular initiative would address.

He further said that The World Bank is engaging with CSOs under the Governance and Anti-corruption Governance strategy in a consistent manner as the work of CSOs is indispensible in India. But the governance framework for NGOs is absent in India, however few efforts have been made by Planning Commission of India in this regard, which is extremely important.

Community of Practice on Social Accountability (CoPSA) is unique intervention initiated by Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International) in partnership with Affiliated Network on Social Accountability – South Asia Region (ANSA-SAR) based in Dhaka, Bangladesh supported by the World Bank Institute, Washington DC, having a component of civic engagement to create a platform to learn from each other through face to face interaction, along creating and sustaining a web based community, mainly focusing on the South Asia region covering the countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India. The purpose of consultation was to discuss about the framework of design, possible approaches and supportive mechanisms for facilitating the CoPSA, which was attended by representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) from various states working on accountability issues.

Shomikho Raha, Governance Adviser, DFID India in his opening remarks said that Social Accountability is much more a demand side issue and this initiative of ‘Community of Practices (CoP)’ should aim for enhancing the credibility of demand side accountability program with measureable and credible results. He also said that lots of our practices are not clearly articulated by the practitioners and the people who develop frameworks etc. are generally mere academician, who doesn’t have hands-on experience. He also said from these initiatives such as COPSA, donor agencies will also be benefitted by getting results in the programmes, development effectiveness and empowerment through the use of social accountability tools.

In the introductory remarks George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS international introduced the concept of the CoP by defining it as ‘a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better, through regular interaction with in the group’. He said CoP is not a club of friends or a network of people, but a group having identity defined by a shared domain of interest, having mutual relationships that enable them to learn from each other and the members who are practitioners.

Mr. Naimur Rehman, Chief Operating Officer of ANSA-SAR talked about envisioning the CoP on Social Accountability tools by elaborating the Philosophy and design approaches and said that investment in CoPSA is a strategy to create linkages between different actors, practitioners of Social Accountability for knowledge exchange, mobilising innovation and new ideas and using those knowledge and innovations for advancing the practices and action on the ground. This investment is made because of the realisation of the need to anchor such emerging practices and learning from each other. He further opined that design of COPSA shall be a good mix of formal and informal structure which allows the diverse members other than ANSA-SAR for cross learning in a wider and deepen manner.

Om Prakash Arya, Senior Project Coordinator, CUTS presented the outline and purpose of the CoP on SAc tools by mentioning about the context in which it can or cannot work. He also talked about various aspect of design of CoP and talked in detail about the meaning of CoP, about the project and taken the group through various activities of COPSA which includes in country consultations, Regional Inception cum Design meet, Establishing online platform, Sensitization of funding agencies/Government, Capacity building of members, Promoting Innovation and Periodic evaluation of COPSA.

Dr. Joy Elamon, Chief Executive Officer, Inter-Cooperation, New Delhi shared his valuable views related to sustaining web based communities, opportunities and challenges. He further said that such CoP is a good way to bring all levels of practitioners on a platform in which there is no hierarchy among members with due respect of their individuality with enough incentives for individual and institutions. He highlighted the key role of the moderator and core group which has to be little bigger than two members and decentralized in nature having grassroots practitioners, learning circles, action groups and regional forums having good usage of latest technology, experiential and validated knowledge.

Sarah Figge Husain, Training Specialist, UN Solution Exchange (Global Team) shared her relevant experience and said that it is extremely important to know about the potential and suitability of each members with regional balance. She said that it is good to define the view of the CoP whether it is short term of long term at initial stage itself.

In the meeting most of the participants active taken part and shared their relevant experiences to design this programme in an effective manner.

The regional inception cum design meet of CoPSA will take place in Colombo on Feb. 29 and March 1, 2012

For more information, please contact:

George Cheriyan, Director (98292 85930)
Om Prakash Arya, Project Coordinator (99280 39210)
CUTS International, D-222, Bhaskar Marg, Jaipur;
Tel: 5133259/4015395: Fax: 4015395; E-mail: cart@cuts.org