Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions.
Explain the difference between social accountability and personal accountability.
Social accountability is about citizens and communities holding public officials and service providers to account. Personal accountability applies to all individuals and is about each of us taking responsibility for our own actions and behaviour.
Imagine you were part of a team that is planning the development of a new water supply source for a small town. Your team leader is a supporter of social accountability. Identify three ways in which the team could implement principles of social accountability during project planning.
- The team should ensure that the community is informed about the plans by providing clear and relevant information that is easy to understand.
- There should be opportunities for the community to participate in discussions about the plans. This could be by arranging public meetings or inviting representatives to discuss specific issues. It’s important to include all groups from the community in these discussions.
- The community should be able to negotiate with the team about the plans so they know they have been listened to and that their opinions matter.
When the project is complete, you now want to involve the community in evaluating its impact. Which social accountability mechanism would you apply in this case? What methods could you use and how might you go about it?
The social accountability mechanism involved here is that of monitoring the performance of projects. The method used is that of participatory performance monitoring. You could ask members of the community to complete citizen report cards or you could organise focus groups to help you evaluate the impact of the project.
What factors are likely to determine the success of a specific social accountability method? Imagine that before planning a new WASH project, there is a public hearing to discuss the issues involved. Which of the factors you have identified is this an example of?
The selection and success rate of a specific social accountability method is determined by:
- having effective mechanisms to communicate between the community and the service provider
- the attitudes and capacities of citizens
- the attitudes and capacities of the government officials involved
- the existence of an enabling environment.
A public hearing to discuss issues would be a mechanism to communicate between the community and the service provider.
Explain why open defecation could be described as socially irresponsible behaviour.
If someone is defecating in the open, their faeces could contaminate the environment. Rainwater could wash faecal material into rivers or other sources of water. This contamination could cause the spread of disease in the community. It is socially irresponsible because the person is not considering the potential harm to other people.