ESAN’s goal is to encourage citizens to actively participate in decision-making processes at local levels by providing them with the required suitable Social Accountability (SA) tools and strategies — a special emphasis being placed on participatory, accessible and clear processes, with a focus on local, open budgets. Strengthening civil society organization, and building a constructive dialogue between government and civil society should ultimately be the launching pad for a sound and sustainable model of cooperation — whereby citizens and CBOs/CSOs are empowered to engage in decision-making and planning processes at local level, while local authorities are able to tailor local development and broader socio-economic initiatives to better serve the needs and priorities of constituents.
ESAN’s expected results can be fully appreciated by looking at it within the broader context of the Arab Spring’s aftermath, characterized by a widespread resolute demand for greater openness for information, involvement in decision-making, and accountability of public officers and employees to the people. With this view, and in line with PJ’s longstanding successful experience within this arena, the project is tailored to guarantee realistic and achievable results, namely: (1) increased capacities of 75 CSOs, CBOs, and activists from 6 selected municipalities on SA; (2) activation of the networking among CSOs, CBOs and activists who work on SA (also
through the presence of media); (3) bridges built between local governments and CSOs/CBOs/activists - to foster active SA - through meetings and seminars; (4) selection of 4 SA initiatives elaborated by CSOs/CBOs/activists, with a focus on local services provided to citizens; (5) promotion of the importance of SA, encouraging and enabling citizens to provide a solid feedback on the services provided and, later on, monitor the progress.
With this view, the project envisages 3 activities clusters - outlined in detail in the attached document: (1) Project activities preparations; (2) National Social Accountability Networking and Capacity Building; (3) Monitoring and Evaluation.
The idea of change promoted through the project traces PJ’s implicit theory of change: increasing individual knowledge and skills, building relationships between civil society and government, and setting up participatory, cooperative processes whereby people can use their skills and maintain their relationships, paves the way for the empowerment of citizen, and for more accountability on the part of governments towards to its citizens — all of which would ultimately facilitate and lead to solutions that meet shared goals. In this sense, the definition of SA “as an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, i.e., in which it is ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations who participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability” (World Bank, 2004), to “stimulate demand from citizens and thus put pressure on the state or private sector to meet their obligations to provide quality services” CARE) acquires a concrete meaning and gets closer to “shared leadership”, a pillar of Community Organizing (CO) — as will emerge throughout the trainings. PJ will hire a partner organization, AHEL, as a consultant to specifically focus on the idea and potential of CO as a way to empower constituency groups be change agents and mobilize communities in active citizenship, building people’s leadership and community power.