How braver citizens make governments more effective

by 30th Apr 2019
Oeun has seen improvements at her local health centre in Koh Kong province, Cambodia Oeun has seen improvements at her local health centre in Koh Kong province, Cambodia

It’s something every country in the world can use right now: braver citizens and more responsive governments. That’s what CARE’s Implementation of Social Accountability Framework project in Cambodia achieved. So how did we do it, and what are the key learning points?

According to citizens in Cambodia, one key result of CARE’s project is that “The project made citizens braver ....” But braver citizens isn’t all. The project also made people more likely to believe that government officers will help them. And government officers like it because “we as the service providers don’t know where we are weak or insufficient that needs to be improved.” Using the Community Scorecard helps them figure out where to strengthen their work. People even report that governments discriminate less between rich and poor.

What did we accomplish?

  • People are more satisfied with services: 86% of people report that they are satisfied with local services, 5.8 times more than they did when the project started. They are 47 percentage points more likely to say that local officials will actually respond to complaints.
  • Decision-makers are more diverse: From a decision-making process that was made up of 100% men from ethnic majorities, now target districts see that 58% of women, 38% of youth, and 38% of ethnic minorities are participating in governance.
  • Minorities saw discrimination go down: 98% of minorities, women, and youth report improvements in services and lower discrimination.
  • People are using services: There was a 27% increase in the number of women giving birth in a health facility. Communities report that schools have better toilets, and enough books to go around for the first time.
  • Local partners are stronger: 100% of local organisations that worked with the project said that they are better able to support local social accountability and the local communities.

How did we get there?

  • Focus on implementation: This project focused on taking an existing national policy and helping local governments implement it. Besides aligning with government priorities, this highlights an important part of scale. Passing policies isn’t enough, and this shows us useful tools for how to move to implementation.
  • Use Community Scorecards: The project used Community Scorecards as the primary tool for creating spaces for social accountability, and connecting service providers to communities.
  • Work with partners: The project had 27 local partners involved in implementation to ensure that they had the best local knowledge and relationships.

Want to learn more?

The Implementation of the Social Accountability Framework project ran in Cambodia from 2015-2018 with $2.5 million from the European Union. It reached 28,500 people.

Check out the project evaluation.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.