Karsten Weitzenegger (AGEG Consultants eG) is currently evaluating Social Accountability Pilot Interventions in the Palestinian territories together with his colleague Dr. Nahed R. Eid (Effects for Consultations & Development) in Gaza. The evaluation is part of the Local Governance and Civil Society Development Programme (LGP 3), which is financed by the German BMZ and carried out by GIZ from Ramallah.
Social accountability complements formal accountability with citizen-led ac-countability mechanisms.
Social accountability is based on four conceptual building blocks: transparency, participation, response, and monitoring; in order for these measures to be effec-tive, they must be implemented as part of a system. Transparency supports pro-cesses that enable access to information in the public domain, including system-atic reporting on operations, budgets, programs, and priorities. Participation refers to a citizen’s right to participate in the decision-making process, including strategic planning, budget formulation, and a complaints system. Response refers to the capacity and willingness of institutions to identify and respond to the needs and preferences of citizens and to request citizen feedback. Monitoring is the systematic collection and analysis of information that enables stakeholders, as third-party monitors, to determine whether service providers are implementing their responsibilities according to the law. Traditionally, social accountability refers to relationships between governments and NGOs, CSOs, service beneficiaries, and citizens. In the WB&G context, NGOs and CBOs deliver public services that are complementary to the PA and in areas where the PA has difficulty operating; in this context NGOs and CBOs are service providers.
As the backbone of public administration, local authorities in the Palestinian territories carry special responsibility for providing basic services for the population. However, the municipal and local authorities have been severely affected by the occupation and the accompanying economic and political crisis. The local economy is in stagnation; many citizens are unable or unwilling to pay fees or taxes. Thus the budgets of the local authorities are shrinking and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to deliver important local services.
In accordance with the principles of good governance, the partner authorities are being empowered to modernise their administrations, introduce transparent financial management and improve the quality of their service provision. Elected local officials and employees of civil society organisations are being given training to enable them to cooperate in local policy planning and decision-making processes and to carry out joint initiatives. In this way the programme supports local reform processes, strengthens the participation of the people in the political process and promotes the development of democratic structures.
The priority at national level is to establish an enabling environment for the local authorities. Above all, this involves regulating and supervising the local administrations, shaping the relationships between national, regional and local levels, allocating responsibilities, and establishing a funding basis for the cities, towns and municipalities.
LGP3 consists of three key components; the first aims at strengthening the regulatory framework at the national level, the second aims at up scaling capacity building packages and knowledge exchange/learning mechanisms to municipalities through the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA) , as well as academia.
The third component aims at strengthening municipal responsiveness. It shall develop municipal benchmarks and prepare for up-scaling. In 2012, a pilot project had established ‘one-stop shop’ offices in eight local authorities to provide services to the local population. Up to 250,000 people have already used these offices, whose services include offering access to essential local services, issuing water and electricity bills and awarding licences all under one roof. This successful model is to be rolled out to many other interested local authorities via the MDLF.
Main approach at the moment is Social Accountability (SA), which is applied by the following mechanisms:
- Institutionalization of SA mechanisms aligned to existing municipal processes such as planning (Strategic Development and Investment Planning – SDIP), Service delivery (One -Stop-Shops OSS), and political leadership.
- Capacity development on the local level for CSOs to assure proper institutionalization of SA mechanisms
- Youth Create Change: developing mechanisms to assure youth participation in local decision making
Following the implementation of the SA tools, the interventions could be up-scaled through the Municipal Development Programme, which is implemented by the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), or through other roll-out mechanisms. In addition, selected SA mechanisms will be promoted for institutionalization at the national level and are planned to be integrated into the national regulatory framework through policies and guidelines.
Youth Create Change
Moreover, a tailored Social Accountability sub-component was designed to enhance youth participation in local decision making (April 2013 / March 2014); the intervention is called the Youth Create Change (YCC). The specific goal of YCC is to identify, pilot and evaluate local and national strategies for youth engagement in local decision making processes.
During the pilot phase, new structures were established: the Youth Officer, a municipal employee that works as focal person for all youth related issues; his/her main tasks are planning, initiating, coordinating and assisting in any activity related to the area of youth work in the municipality. Moreover, the development of a youth action plan; the allocation of a specific municipal budget line for youth projects and initiatives and youth centers are going to be at disposal of young people. In addition to building the capacities of the municipality, the program intends to utilize Youth Promoters: adolescents (15-29 years old) who play a strategic role in terms of mobilizing their peers for youth related issues and act as a mediator and facilitator between the Youth Officer and the young people in the community.
GIZ is implementing the LGP in cooperation with German political foundations. Lead executing agency is the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government. International Partners include the World Bank, AfD, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, EU (all through MDP/ MDLF), UNDP, JICA, US-Aid/CHF, and SDC.
In Component 3, LGP collaborates with the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG), the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), 6 Civil Society Organizations, 10 Municipalities in the West Bank and 7 Municipalities in the Gaza Strip.
For more background see the atricle “Foundations for a new state” by Ulrich Nitschke, Kristin Hentschel in D+C 26/02/2013,