July 6, 2010, Dhaka: Setting up adequate institutional and regulatory framework, and citizen’s oversight are key measures for ensuring accountability system at different governance levels. This was stressed at a Roundtable on ‘Institutionalizing Social Accountability at Union Parishad’ held today in the city. The speakers discussed about different aspects of social accountability tools for enhancing the governance of the Union Parishads (UP)s – the lowest tier of the local government. The Village Education Resource Centre (VERC) organized the round table with support of the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
‘The communities have an important role in increasing accountability, reducing corruption and improving service delivery at Union Parishad level.’ said Ms. Nilufar Ahmad, Senior Gender Specialist, World Bank ‘Incorporating the social accountability mechanism in different local government institutions would help to ensure sustainable governance and inclusive local development’.
The Government is committed to an incremental strengthening of Union Parishads (UPs) over the medium term. The Government has already introduced participatory planning and open budgeting exercise in the UPs. Social accountability tools can facilitate a participatory process through which community members can monitor the implementation of a specific government program and measure its impact against planned result. The plan for conducting social audit in 50 UPs in Dhaka Division from July 2010 was presented at the roundtable.
Community Score Cards (CSC) is an example of social audit tool that can empower communities to assess the performance of the elected local government officials. Feedback from social audit can help UPs to uphold the goals and objectives of serving communities, essentially contributing to the effective functioning of local government institutions for good governance.
The social accountability program is undertaken under the $3 million non-lending facility of the World Bank, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This facility provides knowledge services and technical support to the Government’s current efforts to strengthen local governance. Through the World Bank, UNDP, EU and DANIDA supported Local Governance Support Project (LGSP), the Union Parishads are now provided with greater resource and discretion for service delivery after undergoing rigorous audit process. LGSP is currently covering nearly 75% of the Union Parishads, which will expand to all the 4500 UP within a few months..
More than 70 participants from the Government, UPs, development partners, NGOs, academia and media attended the round table. Mr. Swapan Kumar Sarkar, Director General, MIE, Local Government Division moderated the round table.