Citizen report cards pilot produce promising results
While researching good practice in social accountability – processes that increase civil society participation in government and improve government transparency – I was excited to see a report that provides an excellent example of social accountability from VSO India.
Social accountability can include initiatives like participatory budgeting or, as piloted by VSO India, citizen report cards. Social accountability initiatives can increase the direct oversight and accountability of service providers and government officials to their users.
Last year, VSO India and its partner organisations NEEDS, Manthan Yuva Sansthan and ADHAR, piloted a citizens report card to assess the quality and inclusiveness of primary education and of the Mahatma Ghandi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), in three districts of Orissa and Jharkhand. MGNREGA guarantees 100 days of employment in every financial year to adults willing to do public related unskilled manual work.
The citizen report card surveyed a representative segment of the community, which particularly included women, disabled people and members of scheduled castes or tribes. We asked them about their experiences accessing and using these services.
In primary schools, the survey showed high levels of dissatisfaction from adults on uniform stipends, study stipends and health check-ups . There was very little dissatisfaction with MGNREGA in one district. However, in two districts it was reported that work was regularly blocked, wages left unpaid and a hostile environment existed for disabled persons.
Findings from the citizen report cards pilot were released in Jharkhand in 2011 which have led to some improvements in how the services are delivered.
In the Ranchi district MGNREGA was restructured so that the local community now has the ability to monitor and help implement the scheme. This will make the scheme transparent and accountable.
In Lohardaga district, where primary education was assessed, the quality of uniforms, teaching materials and mid-day meals has improved. Village level education committees also merged into local level committees for better local monitoring and results.
Encouraged by these promising results, VSO India is currently working on scaling up citizen report cards to cover more districts in Orissa and Jharkhand.
Policy intern working on social accountability