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Social Accountability: Democratic Innovations

3-4 October 2019, Islamabad

The Foundation brought together its 50 CSO partners from 12 KP districts to draw lessons from their engagements with governments to improve delivery of public services. Strategies to consolidate & extend efforts were also developed.
Working in regional — Central, Hazara, Malakand & Southern — groups, participants reviewed their social accountability experiences. Lessons were drawn out and prioritized, including the following:

•       Collective action & platforms: Working in groups is more effective than individual actions. An effective CSO provides a platform for collective action.
•       Problem identification: Participatory assessment of government services to define problems and shape demands to address them was a critical step in the social accountability process.
•       Documentation: Maintaining a paper trail helps hold the government to account.
•       Government – duty bearers: Effective social accountability requires citizens be aware of the system of governance and relevant elected and non-elected duty-bearers.
•       Timing: Seizing opportunities, like greater responsiveness during election campaigning, is important.

An overview of the social accountability work was presented. Key results upto December 2018 were also shared.

Shifting context: a review of local government
In a plenary, participants discussed the definition and importance of local government. “It brings government closer to citizens,” said Ms. Sehar Naeem from Haripur.  Mr. Sher Afzal Gujjar from Mansehra stated that amendments to KP’s LG law made in 2019 will reduce representational opportunities as the numbers of councillors and tiers have been reduced. The evolution of local government was presented through a powerpoint presentation, which was much appreciated by participants.

Taking stock: Social Accountability Action Plans
Working in regional/district groups, CSO partners reviewed SAPs and updated its status. Strategies were also discussed to pursue active SAPs and inactive CSOs. Information provided indicated that many SAPs have been achieved since the last DFVs in January 2019.

Moving forward: District Field Visits (DFVs)
Based on the strategies for moving forward, DFVs in October-November 2019 were discussed. It was agreed that districts with low SAP count would focus on problem identification meetings. Ways of extending outreach were also decided. These included working in new areas and engaging additional CSOs partners.