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The second phase of the Ethiopian social accountability program (ESAP) has reached 223 Woredas. The program, initiated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) with support from the World Bank, is expected to provide better services and increase citizen involvement.
A recent evaluation by regional representatives indicated that users of basic services increased to 75 percent from a baseline of 33 percent.
“We have had the most success in increasing the participation of citizens in public service,” Lucia Mass an expert for the project said. “When people face challenges sometimes they feel helpless and angry so we want to alleviate this problem by making them feel they can assertively ask their responsible body for help.”
She added that projects like these are important in countries like Ethiopia where civil societies and advocacy groups are not well developed.
Delegates from across Ethiopia presented their experiences and challenges at the consultation held last week. The common challenge faced was frustration by Government bodies when asked to meet the national standard and also understanding the project as a fault finder of their job.
“There was a public school where traditional alcohol was being sold, class rooms being rented for residential proposes and so on. Using our ESAP structure we were able to solve this malpractice which the principal can’t achieve,” a representative from Amhara region pointed out.
The project has an impact on the budgets of regional governments.
Lucia feels public services must be simplified.
“People must easily be aware of their health, education, roads and other basic access rights so that they know where to go for help.”
She also added that the media can be used to inform society and help people stand up for their rights. Public awareness through media will be the focus of the next phase in January 2019.
The accountability of government officials who refuse to respond when citizens ask for their rights is an issue that needs addressed.
Associations like the Youth and Women Association are groups that will be utilized by the project. The final report indicated that 81 percent of women approved of the project, compared to 41% as the baseline value.
Another tool Lucia points to is using corrective approaches to dealing with problems as opposed to discipline.