FEATURE STORY

Citizens, Governments Solve Governance Challenges Together

October 2, 2013

Woman in a ‘village assembly’ raising her voice about services of Union Parishad in Hossainpur Union of Polashbari, Gaibandha in Bangladesh.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The GPSA just announced its first grants to 12 civil society organizations (CSOs) in 10 developing countries for a total of more than $9 million.
  • The grants will build on the prior achievements of the CSOs and will fund projects in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Moldova, Mozambique, the Philippines, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.
  • An additional grant was allocated to the Mexican CSO FUNDAR to develop the GPSA Knowledge Platform, to be launched later in 2013.

Classrooms in the Kasungu district of Malawi bustle with the sounds of energetic students, but something is missing. There are no notebooks for the children’s exercise work! The district education manager had awarded a contract to a local company to deliver educational supplies to the schools, but the books never arrived.

Civil Society Education Coalition, a local group, tracked the expenditures in the district’s education budget and organized parents to report where the materials were missing. The Ministry of Education was able to take action because of the information received from the parents.

By engaging with civil society actors around social accountability mechanisms, governments are able to find solutions to difficult development challenges. Citizen feedback mechanisms can help improve the provision of basic services like education, health and water. It can also strengthen the quality of public expenditures and increase levels of transparency in government programs, which ensures that people have access to the necessary resources.  

These are the kinds of governance issues that the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) is helping to solve. And the GPSA just announced its first grants to 12 civil society organizations (CSOs) in 10 developing countries for a total of more than $9 million. The grants will build on the prior achievements of the CSOs and will fund projects in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Moldova, Mozambique, the Philippines, Tajikistan and Tunisia. An additional grant was allocated to the Mexican CSO FUNDAR to develop the GPSA Knowledge Platform, to be launched later in 2013.

The GPSA supports civil society and governments working together to solve governance challenges in developing countries. It builds on the World Bank’s direct engagement with public sector actors, and a network of Global Partner organizations, to create an enabling environment in which citizen feedback is used to solve critical problems in service delivery and to strengthen public institutions.  

“For these countries, the projects that the GPSA has selected will be crucial in addressing some of the fundamental challenges in various areas of development,” said Sanjay Pradhan, World Bank vice president for change, knowledge and learning and chair of the GPSA Steering Committee, which selects the grantees. “By encouraging increased transparency and accountability, these governments can provide better services to the most vulnerable people.”

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By encouraging increased transparency and accountability, these governments can provide better services to the most vulnerable people. Close Quotes

Sanjay Pradhan
World Bank Vice President for Change, Knowledge, and Learning

For example, with the help of the GPSA, two CSOs in Bangladesh (Manusher Jonno Foundation and CARE Bangladesh) will support the capacity of citizens to participate at the local level in participatory budgeting and to monitor the use of decentralized government funds. The information resulting from these efforts will be shared publicly and with local and national authorities, so they can take corrective measures where necessary, to improve the quality of services reaching the poor.

In Malawi, the GPSA will support two projects (CARE Malawi and the Malawi Economic Justice Network, partnering with the Civil Society Education Coalition) to address teacher absenteeism and corruption in schools, using mobile technology and other methods. The resulting information will be shared with the minister of education and made public to better understand the problems and take corrective measures.

“The unique approach that the GPSA applies with these grants is to support the collaboration between citizens and governments to work on solutions for development challenges,” said the GPSA Program Manager Roby Senderowitsch.

The 12 grantees were selected from 216 proposals received by the GPSA after launching its first call for proposals in 12 countries in February 2013. An international roster of experts reviewed the proposals for technical quality and impact.

'We are happy that the GPSA can help us to connect to our government, so that the information we produce in our project can be effectively used to improve policies on procurement in the education sector in Malawi,” said Dalitso Kubalasa, executive director of the Malawi Economic Justice Network. “We are all interested parties in building strong social accountability systems for maximum value for money from our public resources, especially for the education of our children.”

The GPSA Global Partners include more than 70 civil society organizations, multilateral institutions, foundations, and academia, which collaborate with GPSA through knowledge sharing, technical assistance and networking.

The GPSA is funded by a multi-donor trust fund, to which the World Bank has committed $20 million and the Ford Foundation $3 million. The Open Society Foundations contributes $3 million in parallel funding. The Aga Khan Foundation has also recently announced a contribution to the GPSA.

GPSA will be launching its next call for proposals in November 2013.