Thursday, May 30, 2013

Community Report Card Tool For Social Accountability In WASH Projects

Ato Quansah, Social Accountability Ambassador
Over the years, one common phenomenon associated with the implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in Ghana is the failure of service beneficiaries (community members) to demand for accountability from the service providers.

With such culture of social accountability-demand silence of service beneficiaries, implementation of WASH projects in Ghana are likely to suffered under sustainability benchmarks.

There is therefore the need to ensure that Social Accountability (SA) is promoted for sustainability in WASH projects. Against this backdrop, one approach, identified through which service delivery from providers can be improved in the WASH sector is through SA.

What is Social Accountability (SA)?

Social Accountability (SA) is an approach used by citizens and civil society organizations to demand accountability from public servants, group leaders and other service providers through civic engagement in a non-confrontational or non-accusatory manner (Allah Mensah - 2011). SA enables service beneficiaries to collected, analyzed and share project information publicly in a participatory fashion to find out if planned activities are indeed executed on the ground. Through SA, the capacity of service beneficiaries is enhanced such that they are able to monitor and supervise their own WASH facilities during and after project implementation for sustainability.

What is Community Report Card (CRC)?

Citizen Report Card (CRC) is participatory survey which solicits user feedback from the service beneficiary on the quality and performance of the service provider in order to raise citizen awareness and ultimately bring about reforms in service delivery.

CRC is not just a public opinion survey; but rather, it is a collective reflection of citizens’ feedback on the performance of a service provider, shaped by their experience of having actually used a particular service such as water from borehole for a length of time. The CRC is used for assessing the overall performance of a service provider based on satisfaction of the service beneficiary regarding the quality of the service provision. The findings of the survey are placed in the public domain through the media and during public meetings. This makes it an effective instrument to promote transparency, responsiveness and public accountability.

The CRC which was pioneered in the early 1990s by Public Affairs Centre (PAC) in India has since grown to become a widely applied tool by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), multilateral donor agencies and the governments across the globe. By systematically gathering and disseminating user feedback, the CRC provides the information needed to goad service providers towards initiating reforms in service delivery.

However, the CRC tool is often used when the quality of service delivery is questionable.

How to use CRC

The following are some key steps for the implementation of CRC:

1. Preliminary

Determine the type of service to be assessed (e.g. latrine, borehole, hand dug well etc)
Select officials from NGOs, academic institutions and other government institutions to assist (e.g. researchers, MMDA officials, NGO personnel)
Determine the segments of the population to be sampled (target group e.g. women, adults, school children etc) as well as the sampling size (e.g. 300).

2. Questionnaire Design

Organize group discussions involving service beneficiaries and service providers to collectively identify issues to be assessed 
Structure your questions systematically or thematically (e.g. quality, access, reliability etc)
Pre-test or pilot your questionnaire before the CRC begins (using a small population size)

3. Administering the questionnaire

Use an experienced official to administer the questionnaires (good researcher)
Conduct back-check interviews to ensure that information recorded on the questionnaires are accurate (randomly, sample few people and interview)

4. Data Analysis

Data from the questionnaires must be accurately entered using statistical software (e.g. Statistical Package for Social Sciences- SPSS),
Analyze the findings of the survey to assess the citizens’ feedback along the established parameters of quality, access, reliability, problem incidence, grievance redress, instances of bribery etc. (use as many parameters as agreed by the service beneficiaries & provider)

5. Dissemination of findings

Formulate a report on the findings and then disseminate the findings through newspapers, public meetings, radio, television, internet etc. (The findings must be disseminated  in languages that the service beneficiaries understand)
Organize a joint meeting between service beneficiary and service providers to allow constructive dialogue (non confrontational manner) to take place and to enable the service providers to improve their performance.


The CRC enhance public awareness on issues of service quality and encourage citizens to pro-actively demand greater accountability, accessibility and responsiveness from service providers.

Hence, CRC facilitates open and proactive discussion on the performance of service providers. This therefore enables the views of service beneficiaries to be factored in service delivery for efficiency.
It also makes the service provider answerable to the service beneficiaries during service provision. The CRC thus resolve grievances of service beneficiaries on the quality of service provision.

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