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World Bank Supports Social Accountability Network Across Arab World

April 15, 2011

WASHINGTON April 15, 2011 – The World Bank is extending its support to a growing network of civil society organizations, development practitioners and government agencies from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to foster the exchange of ideas, build capacity and help members learn about participatory governance and social accountability mechanisms.
Shamshad Akhtar, Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank (MNA) reinforced her organization’s support to the Arab World Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA) which will be funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Development Grant Facility to support active citizen participation and social accountability.
Akhtar met yesterday with MENA civil society representatives and youth leaders, sponsored by the World Bank MNA region and the International Monetary Fund to participate in the Civil Society Policy Forum at the Spring Meetings of the two institutions. The CSO representatives from Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon shared their perspectives on the role of civil society in this transitional period in their respective countries.
“Active citizen participation and a strengthened civil society will play a significant role in ensuring accountability and development effectiveness,” said Akhtar. “We can support this by helping CSOs build the knowledge and capacity to be able to monitor the efficiency of service delivery, for example. Development can only be strengthened if we are all partners in the effort.”
ANSA –Arab World will be officially launched at a workshop in Jordan in June as a regional network and part of the Bank’s Arab World Initiative with the goal of enhancing the Bank’s role in helping civil society make its voice heard in the areas of development where the Bank is active.
“ANSA will support capacity building for social accountability to help CSOs scale up the impact of demand-side initiatives at the country level, and to foster networks of practitioners and peer-to-peer learning among an array of development stakeholders,” said Mariana Felicio, Social Development Specialist at the World Bank.
The network will raise awareness and build capacity around participatory governance and social accountability in the region. In addition, it will serve as a platform for engagement and dialogue with CSOs, government, media, and private sector with the objective of improving services and addressing governance challenges.
In a policy address before the World Bank’s Spring Meetings, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said the organization was determined find to ways to support civil society and the rightful demand for voice in societies.
“I suggest it is now time for the World Bank to examine, with its Board and shareholders, whether the Bank needs new capabilities or facilities that could leverage support from countries, foundations, and others to strengthen the capacity of CSOs working on accountability and transparency in service delivery. We could give priority to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
Note to Editors:
About the Development Grant Facility:
The World Bank Development Grant Facility (DGF) was established in 1997 to integrate the overall strategy, allocations, and management of Bank grant-making activities funded from the Administrative Budget under a single umbrella mechanism.

Since its inception in FY98, the DGF has supported some 183 priority programs with a Bank contribution of US$2.1 billion, mobilizing an estimated US$16.6 billion from other partners i.e. other international financial organizations, regional development banks, bilateral donors, UN agencies, foundations, grant recipient organizations and private sector.

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