WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 –The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved in principle the creation of a Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). The GPSA is a new mechanism to scale up and support social accountability by beneficiary groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) in developing countries. The Bank’s Board will review operational details of the proposed Partnership in June.
“The Bank understands now more than ever that citizen voice and the engagement of project beneficiaries are crucial for lasting development results,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “This new dedicated partnership will support critical work on social accountability, including beneficiary monitoring and oversight of projects and programs. I hope this new Partnership can become an integral part of the Bank Group’s work going forward.”
The Bank plans to invest $20 million in seed money to create the Partnership and will work with others to raise additional funds. As well as investing in projects to boost social accountability, the Partnership will also focus on exchanging knowledge of best practice.
In a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics a year ago, Mr. Zoellick spoke of the need for a new social contract to improve domestic accountability and constructive engagement between citizens and their governments. He announced that the Bank would explore with its shareholders means to support CSOs working on social accountability. The GPSA is a direct result of that pledge.
The scope of the GPSA is global, and over 20 potential partners—including foundations, think tanks, governments and bilateral organizations--have provided input to its design, along with more than 1,300 representatives of civil society organizations from 60 countries, who have participated in consultations on the proposed Partnership.
Current World Bank-supported social accountability work includes: CheckMySchool.org, an interactive map of basic public education information in the Philippines to support citizen oversight of the education sector; the use of community scorecards to help reduce child mortality in Uganda, and public participation in local budgeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo so citizens can have a say where their money is going. The GPSA can help to scale this up.
The World Bank has long acknowledged the important role of civil society and has worked with CSOs for several decades. In 1983, the Bank established the Small Grants Program (later known as the Civil Society Fund, or CSF) to provide direct support to CSOs. In recent years, the CSF has annually supported 350 to 400 CSOs in more than 55 countries. Additional World Bank funding for CSOs, directly and through governmental channels, has also increased steadily over the past decade, totaling an estimated $645 million during FY08-10.