New evaluation finds social accountability led to system strengthening in Bangladesh

Social accountability supported system strengthening by providing a platform for citizen-state engagement and “overcoming inertia” on the part of citizens and bureaucrats, an independent evaluation has found.

 Improved government accountability and services resulted from the application of the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) methodology used in the USAID-funded Nobo Jatra (New Beginning) program in southwest Bangladesh. The CVA approach has underpinned Nobo Jatra’s approach to sustainability since the program began in 2015.

 “Insofar as the evaluation revealed ‘systems strengthening,’ we believe it did so by overcoming inertia for: i) citizens, who because of CVA, are now using their voice and providing new actions via robust social accountability while gaining the correct information, tools, and platforms to do so; ii) institutions, which are performing better from improving the work among institutional (agency) actors as well as from communities via social pressure exerted from the outside; iii) accountability, which resulted from strengthening both old and new formal and informal mechanisms of accountability that make inertia harder while rewarding positive performance and action,” the evaluation found.

 Citizen satisfaction with services and clinics meeting government standards improved significantly from the start of the project. “As a result of CVA, service provision improved by ‘reminding’ duty bearers and service providers to do their jobs while providing them with the motivation necessary to overcome their inertia,” the evaluation found.

Nobo Jatra (New Beginning) is a seven-year (2015-2022) USAID-funded project led by World Vision in partnership with the World Food Program (WFP) and Winrock International as sub grantees. Nobo Jatra is implemented in close partnership with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Government of Bangladesh (GoB), and three local partner NGOs. The goal is to “improve gender equitable food security, nutrition, and resilience of vulnerable communities” in Koyra, Dacope, Kaliganj, and Shyamnagar sub districts in southwest Bangladesh. Nobo Jatra has 856,116 direct participants with multi-sectoral interventions in water, sanitation and hygiene, maternal and child health and nutrition, gender, agriculture and alternative livelihoods, disaster risk reduction and good governance and social accountability.