Integrating Voice, Social Contract, and Accountability to Deliver Better Development Solutions

November 13, 2013


A maternal-child health aide delivers immunizations to newborns at a clinic in Bonthe district, Sierra Leone.

© Margaux Hall/World Bank

  • By integrating voice, social contract, and accountability into the design of projects, governments and development partners can improve the quality and effectiveness of delivery.
  • To support the effective delivery of development solutions, Bank teams are working on new tools and knowledge in the areas of rule of law and justice.
  • The World Bank Group’s Law, Justice and Development Week 2013, to be held Nov. 18-22 in Washington, D.C. will explore the emerging concept of “Science of Delivery” and how law and justice tools can help achieve that.

In a clinic in Moyamba district in southern Sierra Leone, mothers stand in line with their infants to receive free immunizations provided by the government.  This is a hopeful picture for a country that is one of the least safe places in the world for a woman to give birth, with one out of every seven women dying during pregnancy or childbirth. But as each mother gets to the front of the line, the nurse demands six cups of rice before administering the immunization. The mothers comply.

Across the border in neighboring Liberia, the communities of Bomi Hills suffer from delivery failures in other ways.  Residents of what was formerly known as "Bomi Holes," due to longtime iron ore extraction, have been told by officials to cooperate with international investors in mining and agriculture, for the good of the country. Despite this investment, these communities suffer markedly low development indicators and an increase in food insecurity and displacement. Without credible government institutions to monitor investor compliance and hear and resolve grievances, community tensions have spilled over into repeated instances of unrest.

These stories are echoed in many parts of the world.  Too little attention is given to how services should be delivered to benefit those most in need, resulting in the “what” — or the basic services — failing to reach or benefit those individuals. The “science of delivery” emphasizes the question of how to deliver services, focusing on problem solving to design context-specific solutions and to address and identify capacity gaps as well as points of intervention.

" It is necessary to approach development using a justice lens because when matched with law, justice can unlock endless possibilities for sustainable development outcomes and meaningful impact. "
Hassane Cissé

Hassane Cissé

Deputy General Counsel, Knowledge and Research, World Bank

It is well accepted in development literature that certain law and justice tools anchored on values such as voicesocial contract and accountability, if designed and implemented right, can make a difference in the quality and effectiveness of delivery.  Hence, Bank teams are working on innovative ways that these tools can be used to support effective delivery of development solutions.  

  • Voice requires that all stakeholders are heard through participation and meaningful consultation.
  • Social contract ensures that there is fair definition of the rights and obligations of affected parties, and that they are given an equitable share of economic benefits and social protections.
  • Accountability holds relevant actors to their responsibilities and ensures that recourse is available to affected persons when obligations are not fulfilled. 

The World Bank Group and its partners are also applying these tools and approaches to improve the just delivery of services across several areas of development programming.

In Sierra Leone, for example, the Justice for the Poor (J4P) is supporting the government and civil society groups to design legal empowerment and social accountability interventions around health service delivery. J4P is testing and evaluating a community-clinic monitoring intervention and the training of community paralegals to address health grievances at the community level.  Community members and clinic staff review scorecards that show a clinic’s performance. The community members and clinic staff then draft a joint action plan identifying actions they can take to improve health. Over a period of months, they monitor one another’s performance. A similar project, aimed at integrating voice, social contract, and accountability to reduce conflict and address grievance in mining concession areas has also been launched in Liberia. It will focus on improving citizen engagement strategies around the negotiation and implementation of extractive investments and help expand our evidence base of how these approaches can improve development outcomes for the poor.

The World Bank Group Law, Justice and Development (LJD) Week 2013 will take place Nov. 18-22 at World Bank Headquarters. It will explore how to build a science of delivery and integrate it into the existing development framework. It will bring together major stakeholders from governments, international financial institutions, the judiciary, academia, and civil society to share creative ideas and brainstorm innovative ways to address global, regional, and national challenges.