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Monitoring and Social Accountability for Roma Poverty Reduction


Virtual Learning Environment - Enter to view materials from this workshop
May 10-14, 2004
Belgrade, Serbia
Sponsors: World Bank (WBI/CESI, SDV, ECCYU) and Open Society Institute
Presenter: Aline Coudouel (PRMPR, World Bank)


According to the World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People key services often fail poor people - in access, quantity, and quality - imperiling the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) .The main difference between the successes and failures in the efforts by developing countries to make services work is the degree to which poor people themselves are involved in determining the quality and the quantity of the services which they receive. Capacity building for poor stakeholders as well as policy/decision makers is essential to achieve the levels of community empowerment (demand-side) and social inclusion (supply-side) required to make gains in service effectiveness, human development and poverty reduction.


This workshop aims to provide training and dialogue space for Roma civil society delegates from Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania on social accountability. Accountability can be defined as the obligation of powerholders to account for or take responsibility for their actions and choices. “Powerholders” refers to those who hold political, financial or other forms of power. Social accountability is 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. Such mechanisms are hence demand-driven, and operate from the bottom-up.[1]

Hosted in the Knowledge Learning Center in Belgrade, May 10-14, 2004, this workshop will build upon the achievements of the recent high-level regional conference addressing Roma poverty in Central and Eastern Europe by responding to the specific priorities voiced by Roma delegates from the region, including the need for capacity building related to monitoring and social accountability. Such capacity will have a positive effect on the development, implementation and monitoring of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, an international government-owned initiative to improve the well-being of Roma communities in the region (similar to the MDGs).


This learning program seeks to share tools and techniques for monitoring budgets and evaluating actions at the policy level, including actions to create space for Roma representatives in decision-making processes. A key goal of the course is to enable Roma civil society to better hold accountable policy/decision makers through enhanced capabilities in areas such as participatory monitoring and evaluation. Action learning and trust building will be achieved through group work on the design of practical action plans focused on applying accountability mechanisms to government and donor operations. The course will provide opportunities for continued cross-country exchange of knowledge/experience at both policy and program levels. A ripple effect is anticipated as participants will be expected to disseminate workshop findings to broader constituencies and perhaps serve as assistant trainers/facilitators in subsequent events.

Content Overview:

The 5 day program will bring together Roma civil society, government representatives and donor staff to exchange experiences and learn from case studies on social accountability from various regions of the globe. A new conceptual framework on social and public accountability will be presented by the World Bank. Some of the tools to be introduced include: participatory policy formulation, participatory budgeting and budget literacy, participatory public expenditure/input tracking (social audits), participatory performance monitoring & evaluation (citizens’ report cards).

To ensure that this is not a one-time intervention, follow-up technical assistance will be offered via Distance Learning as needed. A local website/Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has been designed to support Serbian and Romanes-speaking constituents as well as regional networking. Materials from this event are also accessible from the VLE.


Approximately 40 participants will include Roma civil society delegates from Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania (and perhaps a few Roma observers from neighboring countries), along with some government officials and donor staff. Participation will be by invitation only. Potential participants will submit applications from which the most competitive candidates will be selected based on announced criteria. Participants will be expected to speak Serbian, English or Romanes.

Expected Outputs:

The workshop will broaden the skill base of the young Roma delegates as well as their government and donor counterparts to strengthen opportunities to collaborate with powerholders and hold them accountable for commitments made. This intervention will further cultivate a cadre of young Roma leaders trained in policy monitoring tools and techniques that can be applied to on-going reform efforts at the local, national and regional levels. The course will amass a collection of ‘best practices’ for strengthening voice and decision-making power among Roma communities. Sustainable communities of practice will emerge from the workshop at both the national and international level.

[1] Excerpt from Social Accountability: A Concept Note Based on Emerging Practice by Carmen Malena for SDV, World Bank, 2003

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