Monday, August 05, 2013

Facilitators’ Role In The Implementation Of Social Accountability Tools In Wash Projects

Women groups in Piina welcome Social Accountability in WASH projects
By Emmanuel Ato Quansah
Extension Services Specialist
Community Water and Sanitation Agency                                         Upper West Region

What is social accountability?

Social Accountability (SA) is an actions initiated by citizen groups to hold public officials, politicians, and service providers to account for their conduct and performance in terms of delivering services, improving people’s welfare and protecting people’s rights” (Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP).

Consequently, the implementation of the concept in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects offers a platform for service beneficiaries to demand for accountability from service providers. The implementation of the concept therefore makes contractors and consultants who provide WASH services answerable to the community members who benefit from such services. 

For instance, the implementation of social accountability tools provides an opportunity for community members to assess the quality of work that is rendered by a borehole drilling contractor or a consultant promoting sanitation or hygiene in a community. The ultimate goal of the concept is to attain quality service delivery that improves the welfare of the service beneficiaries. However in attaining this central goal, several social accountability tools are used.

Common among the social accountability tools often used in WASH projects are the Social Audit (SA), Community Score Card (CSC), Community Report Card (CRC) and the Public Hearing (PH). However, in the implementation of all these tools, one key stakeholder whose role cannot be downplayed is the social accountability facilitator. 

Role of WASH facilitator

A WASH social accountability facilitator is a person who mediates the engagement of service providers and service beneficiaries to ensure quality WASH services delivery. The principal role of a WASH social accountability facilitator is to ensure that service beneficiaries (community members) demand for accountability from service providers (WASH contractors and consultant) through civic engagement in a non-confrontational or non-accusatory manner.

The role of the facilitator is to assist the communities to generate their own score card (using CSC) and questionnaires (using the CRC) in line with the scope of the project. The facilitator is also to serve as the referee in the direct dialogue between the service provider and beneficiary to avoid unnecessary confrontations and accusations. The facilitator must also ensure that data collected by the community regarding the quality of service delivery reflects the situation on the ground (using the Social Audit).

Documentation of the outcome of the social accountability process is another key role of the facilitator. The facilitator needs to formulate a report on the exercise and disseminate the outcome through the media. Most importantly, the facilitator needs to ensure that the outcome of the exercise is fed into policy and advocacy processes.

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