Citizen report cards pilot produce promising results

Carrie Baptist
By Carrie Baptist: July 18th, 2012

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.

Carrie Baptist
Policy intern working on social accountability


2 comment on Citizen report cards pilot produce promising results

  1. Charles Gay says:

    Thanks for this Carrie – and well done to the VSO India programme staff, volunteers and partners – exciting to see the contribution that VSO volunteers and the community volunteers of VSO’s parners can make to improving service delivery on these important issues for poor people and children li ing in poverty. Active citizenship nd social accountability methods seem to be working effectively here! looking forward to more from this programme! Charles

  2. Steve Morris says:

    Yes this is an interesting pilot. It would be even more interesting to know the context – whether it was part of an overall programme, a specific project or a pilot of the tool/methodology itself. There are a number of projects being run or set up at the moment in VSO country programmes that aim to use community scorecard methodology but perhaps there is a role for VSO working with local governments to embed such methods into their interface with communities purely as a good governance issue. And while we are at it let us not forget that the NGOs (including ourselves) and donors need also to be held to account – perhaps also through this methodology.

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