Published Date: Feb 16, 2012
EXPERTS CALL FOR SCALING UP SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY INITIATIVES IN SOUTH ASIA REGION
Speakers at a roundtable demanded constructive civic engagement between government and citizens towards strengthening the principles of democratic governance in Pakistan. They also underscored youth involvement to ensure effective social accountability as 68 percent of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 30.
The roundtable, ‘social accountability stock-taking in Pakistan’, jointly organized by ANSA-South Asia Region and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), was aimed at collecting accomplishments and challenges on public accountability and to build an information base for present and emerging accountability agenda for South Asia and especially in context of Pakistan.
Dr.Vaqar Ahmed, Research Fellow, SDPI spoke on social accountability and civic engagement in Pakistan. He was of the view that social accountability needs to be seen in overall framework of participatory development. He said, softer image of accountability is desired so that all stakeholders including government, civil society, and business community can recognize their roles and responsibilities. He added that concept of mutual accountability was also important to realize community of their own responsibilities. Finally, youth need to be taken onboard in leveraging accountability at gross root level, he said while concluded his remarks.
Tony Verheijen, Sector Manager for Governance, World Bank appraised audience on activities of World Bank in area of social accountability. He said Pakistan provides more opportunity for civic engagement in government monitoring
as the society is opening up. He also talked of third party monitoring on service delivery and said, community mobilization by civil society organizations leads to good governance mechanisms in the country.
Farzana Saleem, Chief Operating Officer, Hisaar Foundation, Karachi, stressed civil society to have a common platform and devise and initiate collectively efforts to bridge the widening gaps between the public expectations and existing deteriorating situation of service delivery by the state. She also stressed on building mutual accountability mechanisms where all stakeholders are accountable to each other including government agencies, private sector, civil society organizations and citizens.
Gulbaz Ali Khan, Senior Research Associate, SDPI said citizen driven accountability measures complement and reinforce conventional measures of accountability such as political checks and balances, auditing systems, administrative rules and legal procedures. He said, key common building blocks for social accountability mechanism include obtaining, analyzing and disseminating information , mobilizing public support and advocating and supporting change.
Naimur Rahman, Chief Operating Officer, ANSA-SAR & Global said that roundtable aims at identifying driving force behind social accountability initiative across the South Asian region, and, to know the willingness and capacities
of citizens to engage with government along with appropriate specific tools and also how can information and communication technologies based solutions may facilitate can enhance accountability. He also briefed participants on ANSA Network that was launched in 2009 to facilitate networking of practitioners and help build their capacities to initiate social accountability interventions.
Mario Picon of World Bank deliberated on having youth as monitors in community in social accountability interventions. He said youth can serve as constantly engaged citizens and be helpful in distribution of common messages on social accountability. They can also be instrumental in use of technology for transmission of content and providing communities with access to social media, he added.