There has been a
significant change in citizen engagement through awareness raising and capacity
building of the community people. They have been proactively participating in
ward shovas, planning meeting and open budget sessions. Women participation has
been increased in UP led initiatives. Community support groups have proactively
visiting the implemented development schemes and provide recommendations to
UPs.

 

Capacity building of
the institution made the UP representative more responsive and accountable to
the service users. A large number of first and second round Wardshava has been
conducted ensuring participation of women and poor and vulnerable groups. This
has capacitated the local governments to become familiar with accountability
process in planning and implementation of their budgets. By exercising two
rounds of community score card process the local elected public officials have
gained confidence to become more responsive to the community.

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Enhanced responsiveness had been attained by engaging both service
providers and local community though developing joint action plan aimed at
improving the service quality through efficient use of public resources. The
systemic introduction of the complaint mitigation process in local governments
had helped people to lodge complain in relation to schemes implemented by using
Union Parishad budget and block grants. Respective community support groups and
the Union Parishads jointly developed a mechanism to redress peoples’
grievances by monthly meeting of respective UPs. 

 

Rights of access to
information has been the key area of improvement interms of capacity building
of the community and their local government institutions. The local governments
have changed their views on proactive disclosure of information regarding
development initiatives, the fiscal information in particular. Community people
have changed their reluctant behavior pattern on access to information. Now,
they are eager to know more information about the services provided by the
service providers. Transparency and accountability of the Union Parishads
though disseminating information to the people and identifying if there is any
flaw in budget expenditure in particular in relation to the block grants
disbursed under LGSP II as well as defined recommendations for respective
service providers.

 

IDEA-SEBA project has
been implemented in 09 UPs of Dakshin Surma Sub-district under Sylhet district with
a view to enhance the fiscal transparency of local public spending ensuring peoples’
participation and to create a responsive and accountable local government. For
this, the project has formed community support groups and capacitated them
through different training and meetings on LGSP-II and Social Accountability
tools through which they can create an enabling environment for citizens to
greater access to information and services. UP representatives had been
capacitated by different trainings and workshops on LGSP, social accountability
tools and Right to Information (RTI) Act-2009.

 

Throughout the
project duration, the UPs were sensitized in disclosing different information
and engaging local community in development initiatives. But after the latest
UP election in 2016 the situation has been changed because of newly elected UP
bodies. Now, there are some newly elected UP representatives along with some
re-elected members in the local governments.  The re-elected members should orient the newly
elected members on social accountability mechanism and their roles in ensuring
transparency and accountability of the public spending. Knowledge needs to be
transferred through institutional process so that the local governments
continues with the changes acquired over time. The district administration of
the local government department should become the vehicle to capitalize the
lessons learned. The designated officials responsible to implement the LGSP had
been engaged with the project interventions. They are also informed about the
learning captured by the project. The community support group are the local
change agents which need to be remain functional. It is possible by the local
government department and UP bodies to ensure peoples’ participation in the political-administrative and governance system through
recognizing the community support group.   

 

Historically the accountability to the people in
political-administrative and governance system has been insignificant in
practice in the context of Bangladesh. The colonial culture of
political-administrative system which is mostly top-down in nature has been
sustained in local governance system. The idea of social accountability is relatively
new in Bangladesh context and has been practiced by donor driven CSO programme.
The educated and more informed segment of the society want accountability to be
ensured in providing basic services. The poor and marginalized community people
are indifferent about their rights into basic services. However, once they are
educated on their rights entitlement and they become familiar to the process of
participation they tend to demand accountability from their service providers.

 

The entire social accountability mechanism needs facilitation
particularly in educating community people the process of participation and its
importance to establish people centred governance. The Community Score Card
tool needs to be practiced for a long period of time to benefit both the
service users and service providers. The success always depends on peoples’
participation. Also, success in a particular context never confirms success in
every other context. There is no shot-run process for this mechanism to achieve
ultimate success.