Demanding Good Governance : Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa

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This is a challenging time for Africa. The combined effects of the global economic crisis, the need for equitable allocation of natural resource assets, and the ever-changing balance of influence and power between the developed and developing worlds are requiring African countries to re-evaluate their governance structures. "Social accountability," as defined in this book, is an approach to enhancing government accountability and transparency. It refers to the wide range of citizen actions to hold the state to account, as well as actions on the part of government, media, and other actors that promote or facilitate these efforts. Social accountability strategies and tools help empower ordinary citizens to exercise their inherent rights and to hold governments accountable for the use of public funds and how they exercise authority. Global experience has shown that such initiatives can be catalytic and that they increasingly play a critical role in securing and sustaining governance reforms that strengthen transparency and accountability. The case studies presented in this book represent a cross-section of African countries, drawing on initiatives launched and implemented both by civil society groups and by local and national governments in countries with different political contexts and cultures. Over the past decade, a wide range of social accountability practices- such as participatory budgeting, independent budget analysis, participatory monitoring of public expenditures and citizen evaluation of public services-have been developed and tested in countries such as Brazil, India, the Philippines, and South Africa. In less developed Sub-Saharan African countries, civil society and government actors are also actively creating and experimenting with social accountability approaches (and tools), but these experiences, their outcomes, and lessons have received less attention and been less documented, studied, and shared. This volume aims to help fill this gap by describing and analyzing a selection of social accountability initiatives from seven Sub-Saharan countries: Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
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McNeil, Mary; Malena, Carmen. 2010. Demanding Good Governance : Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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