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Empowering Citizens, Increasing Accountability, Improving Service Delivery

February 13, 2013

World Bank Group

Addis Ababa, February 13, 2013 -- In Ethiopia, like many other countries, the government is responsible for bringing about development and providing basic services to citizens  such as education, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural roads. Since 2006, under the Protection of Basic Services project (PBS), the World Bank along with other development partners has been supporting the federal government’s efforts to promote and increase social accountability in order to improve the delivery of these services and making them more relevant to peoples’ needs. The initiative has empowered ordinary citizens to assess the quality, adequacy and effectiveness of basic services and to voice their needs and preferences regarding the provision of these services.

The social accountability work was implemented using Community Score Cards, Citizens Report Cards, and Participatory Budgeting as a basis for face-to-face discussions between citizen groups and service providers. These regular discussions provided the opportunity for all stakeholders to review the service delivery scores and discuss deficiencies, produce common performance indicators, agree on service delivery scores, develop joint action plans, and form joint committees to follow up on the implementation of the action plans. Government officials and service providers have been required to take account of citizens’ demands and to respond, as feasible, with appropriate policies and solutions. This has made it possible for citizens to hold policy-makers and service providers accountable for their performance.

The program has provided the opportunity for a real and meaningful engagement among service providers and citizens enabling local governments throughout the country to better plan and deliver priority services identified by citizens. Previously cities did not systematically consult with citizens in determining priorities.

“This is the first project in our city under which we were asked what our needs were,” said Weizero Tiblets a Mekelle resident. “We needed better roads and drainage, our houses used to get flooded during the rainy season. Now we have what we asked for. In the past, officials made decisions of how to use our money without even informing us.”

The program has also helped to significantly increase the community’s ownership and engagement with service providing institutions. In Lagahare Kebele, in Dire Dawa, this has resulted in declining student dropout rates, reduced student and teacher absenteeism, and better-prepared teachers at high schools that previously had very poor ratings on these counts.

“Before we were informed about budget allocation for the schools and teacher salaries, so many teachers did not show up to teach our children and blamed the government for not paying them on time,” said Ato Gemechu, one of the beneficiaries of the program. “Now, thanks to this program, we know exactly how much is allocated and paid so even when I see one of the teachers on the streets during school hours, I have the confidence to go demand why he/she is not in school teaching my children.”

The program first started in 2006 with US$7.5 million Multi Donor Trust Fund, which has been administered by the World Bank. It was implemented in 86 districts by 45 CSOs. It is now being significantly scaled up in a second phase with a US$20 million budget  covering some 172 woredas (districts), and implemented by 60-90 CSOs. The current phase of the program is also putting more emphasis on training and capacity building of CSOs, citizen groups and local governments.  This phase will be implemented over the next two years.