Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 21, 2013 – As Mongolia rushes from nomadism to high growth thanks to a mining boom, its citizens hope that the public services in the country also catch up.
These are some of the typical complaints from Mongolians:
“We spend 20% of the national budget on education, but there are 40 children in a classroom, in three shifts.”
“I pay for nine family doctors, but only five of them actually work.”
“I wait for 40 minutes to get just one form.”
“I knock on ten doors to get a single document.”
“Our studies show that Mongolian citizens are not happy with the public services they get from the government,” says G. Undral, Network Coordinator of the Partnership for Social Accountability.
Introducing Social Accountability to Mongolia
To address the public's concerns, the Partnership for Social Accountability, together with international partners, implemented the Social Accountability Learning in Action Program with World Bank funding, to promote social accountability in Mongolia.
Social accountability simply means to “hold the government accountable”, explains G. Undral. So, the program, besides introducing the concept to the country, also trains local NGOs on how to use tools such as Citizen Score Cards, Citizen Report Cards and Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys to hold the government accountable.
“Social accountability is a new concept for Mongolia, unlike the public demonstrations we had in the mid 2000s. It is objective, measurable and results-oriented,” says D. Tserenjav, Network Coordinator for the Citizen Oversight of Budget.
Through the program, these organizations learned how to collect information about deficiencies in services, verifying them with facts and evidence.
“We have shared these facts and evidence with government agencies, which add value to our advocacy,” says B. Nyamsuren, Coordinator of the Dashin Dem Foundation. She finds the concept and practices of social accountability are the most useful ways for citizens to engage in the process of obtaining and improving the most needed public services.
“We citizens pay tax and in return we receive public services from the government,” she says.