Topic 3: How to Strengthen CD Through Mutual and Domestic Accountability?

Topic 3: How to Strengthen CD Through Mutual and Domestic Accountability?

Topic 3: How to strengthen CD through mutual and domestic accountability?

Introduction, objectives, abstracts

This document contains a brief note framing the issues as well as all the abstracts of the presentations as available as of 27 September 2006:

A well-known weakness of existing results-based approaches is their tendency to emphasize accountability to donors. This can lead to the neglect or even undermining of domestic ownership, capacity and accountability and to ignoring the political economy of development. Political and social relationships (including the aid relationship), interests, power differentials, and mind sets can significantly distort analysis and perception. That applies to the “soft” side of capacity as well including confidence, empowerment, relationships, negotiations, and coordination. Capacity development is also a function of domestic accountability structures and governance that allows for long term societal adaptation and transformation.
The Paris Declaration commits partners to “strengthen as appropriate the parliamentary role in national development strategies and/or budgets” and to “reinforce participatory approaches by systematically involving a broad range of development partners when formulating and assessing progress in implementing national development strategies” (para. 48). This echoes both the “broad consultative processes” through which development strategies are to be developed and implemented in the first place (para. 14) and the “participatory” approach, through which capacity and demand for results-based management are to be strengthened (para. 46).
Furthermore, as donors begin to face the consequences of an unprecedented era of significant increases of aid the issues of aid dependency and domestic revenue mobilisation capacity in poor countries are also gaining prominence. Experience suggests that public use of revenues from taxation, extractive industries, licensing fees and other instruments matters greatly for accountability because it is central to a social fiscal contract in building effective and accountable authority to citizens and ultimately better governance.
At the forum, domestic accountability will be addressed both among the thematic CD areas (especially under CD for improved governance) and as a cross-cutting concern for management of CD initiatives. This is a challenge not only to partner countries, but also to donors. It implies de-emphasizing programming of CD in line with donor concerns and taking off weight of accountability towards donors. On the contrary, it implies putting top priority on addressing CD needs of local constituencies and then to being accountable to them for results.
Excerpt from Conference Invitation

In democratic societies the ultimate sovereign is the people, including poor people, women, and marginalized groups. Governments are held accountable at the very minimum because they can be elected or replaced by public vote. During political mandates there are authorities mandated by the people, such as the auditor general, to hold public administration accountable to abide by the rules. Accountability denotes a relationship that relates closely to the responsiveness of the “duty bearers” to the concerns of the poor on one side and on the “voice” of the rights holders to articulate their needs

and claim their rights on the other side. Mutual accountability denotes the same in a reciprocal way based on the notion of a contract.

In reality, accountability relations are often not working properly, distorted or outright corrupt. Public institutions are captured by elites, individuals with power, and resources diverted to serve those with influence. The poor ultimately are not represented by public institutions. Even the aid relationship induces outward accountability at the expense of responsiveness of private or public service providers to their primary clients. The system is in a dysfunctional state and likely incapable to reform itself from within due to an ingrained architecture of vested interests and power differentials.

Defining clear accountability relations, responsibilities, rules and their enforcement can constitute powerful regulatory mechanisms for collective systems. Mechanisms that ensure accountability to poor and disadvantaged people shape the incentive structures and can boost overall capacity to produce pro-poor development outcomes. They build legitimacy and function as ultimate safeguard against the misuse of power and protect space for societies to negotiate their long-term social contract. Accountability is thus a critical pillar in developing a society’s ability to manage its affairs.

In exploring the principle issue of “How to strengthen CD through mutual and domestic accountability?” this segment of the Forum will particularly look at the following questions:

  • What are promising experiences in building trust and ownership through mutual accountability mechanisms between developing countries and donors?

The Paris declaration stipulates “mutual accountability” and even dedicates indicator 12 to assessing mutual progress through “increasingly objective country level mechanisms”. What mechanisms do in principle qualify? What makes them effective?

  • How can mutual accountability arrangements be tied into domestic accountability systems, such as parliamentary oversight, development planning and budgeting?

The Paris commitments recognize the importance of domestic accountability, parliamentary oversight, and participatory practices. What are promising approaches to strengthen such domestic accountability? How can domestic accountability mechanisms replace or shape particular arrangements in the aid relationship?

  • What accountability mechanisms are particularly suitable for coping with the reality of the political economy, vested interests and power differentials?

Progress in achieving development objectives are subject to political processes beyond the direct control of any partner. It is also a function of the quality of relationships, “clear rules of the game” and effective ways of dealing with undue influence. What mechanisms are useful, effective and sufficiently robust to deal with such pressures?

  • What criteria can guide and what propositions on promising practice should serve as pillars of mutual accountability arrangements?

Accountability mechanisms will need to fit the purpose and context. But critical criteria or features may be identified that safeguard their effectiveness. What are some of the critical innovations that should be pursued as a matter of priority in establishing acceptable ground rules and instruments? Perspectives and the perception of relative importance of measure may differ with constituency.

Donors and partners are accountable for development results
47. A major priority for partner countries and donors is to enhance mutual accountability and transparency
in the use of development resources. This also helps strengthen public support for national policies and
development assistance.
48. Partner countries commit to:
? Strengthen as appropriate the parliamentary role in national development strategies and/or budgets.
? Reinforce participatory approaches by systematically involving a broad range of development partners
when formulating and assessing progress in implementing national development strategies.
49. Donors commit to:
? Provide timely, transparent and comprehensive information on aid flows so as to enable partner
authorities to present comprehensive budget reports to their legislatures and citizens.
50. Partner countries and donors commit to:
? Jointly assess through existing and increasingly objective country level mechanisms mutual progress in
implementing agreed commitments on aid effectiveness, including the Partnership Commitments. (Indicator 12).

The objective of the discussions under the topic is to address as concrete as possible the above questions, in particular the potential avenues and innovations that should become “default” mechanisms in development cooperation. Presenters and participants are encouraged the lead their exchange with a view of identifying lessons and practices that will be of wider interest to development practitioners. While contextual information is important to understand the specific case, contributions should address the questions and try to pinpoint the essential features of promising practice.

The process is foreseen as follows:

1) The topic will be introduced in plenary with a short presentation on dimensions to consider. Each of the presenters will have 2 minutes to make very selected propositions of desirable innovation and practice.

2) The breakout sessions have the task to consider the above questions also but not only in light of the presentations. In effect presenters are asked to directly address these questions from their perspective and evidence.

3) Please note that participants will regroup around constituency perspectives for last 45 minutes to identify concrete propositions and arguments for the panellists that will engage on the arguing panel on the next day. Informal preparation groups can continue beyond 18h during the evening as useful.

4) During the arguing panel one advocate for each constituency perspective will present the propositions and arguments in a first round. In a second round a second advocate for each constituency perspective will respond and deepen the case as useful. The forum participants can contribute short inputs and questions in writing that will be presented and taken on board in the discussion. After final observations from the panellists, three observers will reflect on what promising practice they have been able to make out during the debate.

Breakout session

Working Group 1:

Anchoring mutual accountability in domestic accountability – Civil society perspectives


  • Making visible women’s initiatives for engendering accountability towards community Development and Local Governance in India – Prema Gopalan, Executive Director, Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), India
  • Real Accountability: improving aid through better accountability – Jasmine Burnley, Accountability Group, Action Aid, UK

Working Group 2:

Anchoring mutual accountability in domestic accountability – Between donors and parliament


  • Maximising Accountability around Technical Cooperation - Tessa McArthur; DFID, UK
  • Working with Parliamentarians to Improve Their Capacity to Oversee Economic Policy: a Case Study – Mr. Nhlanhla Nene, Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Finance, South Africa and Neal P. Cohen (USAID), South Africa

Working Group 3:

Flexible approaches to forge mutual accountability: addressing the political economy of aid relations


  • Accountable Cooperation through Flexible Brokering and Mutual Trust – Transformation Steering Committee (TSC) in Uganda - Godfrey Ssebukulu, Transformation Manager, TSC, Uganda
  • A promising approach to mutual accountability: the Tanzanian experience with the Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) – Prof. Samuel Wangwe, Tanzania

Working Group 4:

Exploring promising ground to strengthen capacity through accountability


  • Capacity for mutual accountability: domestic resource mobilisation - Interim Steering Committee of the Kenyan National Tax Payer's Association and OECD DAC GOVNET
  • “Refocusing Capacity Development at the African Development Bank” and Lessons in Building Local Governance Capacity – Claudius Bamidele Olowu, African Development Bank and Mr Ola Adigun, African Development Bank

Abstracts of presentations

1. Making visible women’s initiatives for engendering accountability towards community Development and Local Governance in India

Ms. Prema Gopalan, Director - Swayam Shikshan Prayog – India

Global Coordinator – Women and Disaster Campaign – HUAIROU Commission

The process of globalisation, liberalisation, privatisation and decentralisation has unleashed a wide range of policies and programmes, which in the absence of safety nets affect the poor negatively, especially when they are not organised into collectives. […]

A "critical mass" of well-informed women's groups and poor communities can be encouraged to participate in the development reforms, then their concerns can become central to the planning process. Strengthened by this belief, SSP seeks to influence shifts in policies and resource allocations from below, creating a micro-macro balance. SSP, through its projects, helps to redesign the governance mechanisms to promote participatory democracy, which allows communities particularly elected representatives, women’s collectives and marginal sections of society to take lead roles in determining development priorities and deciding resource allocation. SSP initiated and stabilised Savings and Credit Groups (SCGs) for women through regular meetings, mobilising savings, giving loans and instituting transparent systems for financial and social accountability. Simultaneously, SSP worked with the state and district administration to include participation of women’s collectives in monitoring development allocations and resource decisions.


  1. Increasing space for womens participation and building capacities for decision making
  2. Enhance access, outreach and quality of services to communities through community monitoring and lobbying with local authorities
  3. Promoting grassroots democratic forums, with participation of women’s community groups in local governance structures.
  4. Policy and Institutional reform towards control of decisions and resources by community groups and elected local governments


  • Women and Women's groups are not controlling governments, but they are taking up new citizenry roles that are resulting from political frameworks such as decentralisation, privatisation, fundamentalist governments etc.
  • Grassroots women are producers of knowledge, skilled and drivers of their communities. Solutions at the community level can be invested into grassroots women's groups themselves.
  • Grassroots women can be partners with professionals who can support grassroots initiatives.
  • Grassroots women are holding key public spaces and hence they can be operated and managed by women.

Links to supporting resources, other background Documents

Swayam Shikshan Prayog

Key contacts

Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Room # 20, 1st Floor, Shahaji Raje Municipal School
Opp: Parleshwar Society, Shahaji Raje Road, Vileparle (East), Mumbai 400 057, India
Tel : 91-22-55841388, Tel/Fax: 91-22-26820905 , Email:

2. Real Accountability: improving aid through better accountability

Jasmine Burnley, ActionAid

The presentation looks at ActionAid work on aid effectiveness and highlights the following key issues:

Accountability is key to aid effectiveness but donor behaviour tends to undermine relationships of accountability. In particular, practices such as conditionality put donors in the driving seat and subvert domestic lines of accountability by taking decisions out of the hands of both country governments, and civil society. Our research shows that Technical Assistance in particular is an area with an accountability vacuum. It is donor-driven, overpriced and ineffective, and as a result, prioritises government-to-donor accountability over any other form of accountableness. Mutual accountability is on the table as a result of Paris Declaration donor commitments, but will it solve these deep rooted accountability problems? Our recommendations suggest that genuinely mutually accountable aid processes must be based on southern country ownership combined with donor practices which de-emphasise their demands for accountability and look to strengthen rather than weaken domestic accountability processes.

Links to supporting resources, other background Documents

“Real Aid 2: Making Technical Assistance Work”

“Real Aid 1: An Agenda for Making Aid Work”

Key contacts

Jasmine Burnley; Aid and Accountability Team; ActionAid UK

3. Maximising Accountability around Technical Cooperation

Tessa MacArthur, DFID, UK

This presentation will discuss the Paris Declaration as a framework for mutual accountability between international partners and developing countries in the area of Technical Cooperation. The Paris monitoring process has the potential to improve data about TC coordination and alignment and hold development partners more accountable to developing countries. It will promote more joint dialogue on preferred practice.

Other aspects of the Paris Declaration encourage development partners to be more accountable for providing TC in an effective way. It continues to be one of the most criticised areas of aid. For example, the targets encourage greater use of country systems, avoidance of Project Implementation Units, and progress on untying.

The presentation will consider the complex accountability relationships surrounding donor funded Technical Cooperation. Consultants are often more accountable to the donor than the partner institution they are working to. Partners do not always feel accountability for the TC where it is a ‘free good’ and where it has been donor driven rather than arising in response to their demand. The presentation will emphasise that if donor TC initiatives could be more jointly designed, contracted and managed by the partner, there would be more straightforward accountability for delivery from the consultant to the partner. The partner would also feel more accountable to domestic actors for the overall impact and cost, thereby strengthening domestic accountability and ownership. The presentation will conclude by considering the practical challenges of moving faster towards joint and partner-led TC processes, noting DFID’s new How to Note and good practice principles on this area.

Links to Supporting Resources:

Key Contacts

Tessa MacArthur
Governance Adviser

Donor Policy & Partnerships Team

Room 8E13, Department for International Development

+44 207 023 1143

  1. Working with Parliamentarians to Improve Their Capacity to Oversee Economic Policy

Mr. Nhlanhla Nene, Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Finance, South Africa;
Neal P. Cohen, formerly with USAID/South Africa

  • USAID’s program focused tightly on improving the capacity of black South Africans to understand, design and implement economic policy. Underlying USAID’s program was the thesis that good economic policy was more likely to emerge if there were well trained government economists.
  • Initially USAID worked with the national government and universities to improve the capacity of black South Africans but later the SA government and USAID both realized that it was necessary to improve the capacity of parliamentarians to monitor and publicly discuss economic policy. Initially USAID assisted the Auditor General’s office to help parliamentarians understand Auditor-General reports and investigate misspending.
  • Inquiries from parliament and requests from senior government officials that we help provide basic economics training for parliamentarians led to short courses on how to understand the Minister of Finance’s budget speech and its impact on economic policy. Parliamentarians requested expansion to other areas of economics and it eventually led to an undergraduate degree in economics (public policy).
  • Economic policy capacity development that is demand-driven, localized, focused on imparting skills rather than prescribing policies is more likely to become institutionalized and sustained beyond the period of donor assistance.

Links to supporting resources, other background Documents