[P4922] Local governance and social accountability reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring

Created by Sylvia Bergh
Monday, 11/20/17 8:00am


In recent years, various social movements throughout the MENA region began challenging existing regimes of rule, focusing their public accusations on political elites as well as the institutions of the state. Underpinning and propelling different forms of collective action was a wide discontent regarding an uneven distribution of civic, political and social rights of citizenship between different groups and classes of the state. While there is now quite a substantial body of literature on the underlying causes of the various revolutions and protests, and valuable studies are emerging on the main actors and their practices, the responses from the states and donors in the area of strengthening social accountability at the local level remain under researched.
These responses include the creation of new "participatory" institutions (e.g. participatory urban planning systems, municipal service centers, and consultative committees for gender equity and equal opportunities in Morocco and Tunisia), increased decentralization to municipal levels, and the establishment or strengthening of Economic and Social Councils and Ombudsman offices. Similarly, international donors have scaled up their work on social accountability initiatives, including community score cards in the education, health, and water sectors. Various participatory and gender-responsive budgeting initiatives are also underway.
However, it is not well known to what extent social movements and individual citizens are willing to engage with these new state and donor initiatives, and what the outcomes of such engagements are in terms of local accountability, state legitimacy, and citizenship. A related question is whether local actors hold notions and understandings of accountability that differ from Western ones. The papers in this panel address these questions based on case studies that span the full expanse of the MENA region: the first paper on Iraq examines the potential for social accountability through deepening decentralization and involving civil society in the education and social protection sectors. The second paper assesses the effectiveness of the Beirut Madinati campaign during the municipal elections of 2016 in Lebanon. The third paper then analyses CARE Egypt's experience with community monitoring activities on the grants provided by Egypt's Social Fund for Development. The fourth paper focuses on the role played by Amira Yahyaoui, a Tunisian cyber and social activist, in developing participatory platforms at the parliamentary and municipal levels. The panel concludes with a paper analyzing the use of Community Score Cards in the education sector in Morocco.


Pol Science




Dawn Chatty

(University of Oxford)
Dawn Chatty is University Professor in Anthropology and Forced Migration and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House), University of Oxford, UK. Her research interests include coping strategies...
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Habiba Boumlik

(LaGuardia Community College, CUNY)
Dr. Habiba Boumlik is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Language Acquisition at LaGuardia. She received her Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Strasbourg, France in 1996. She also holds an M.A. in...
Panel Participating Role(s): Co-Author;

Asya R. El-Meehy

(United Nations)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Sylvia Bergh

(Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Sylvia I. Bergh (a Swedish national) is Associate Professor in development management and governance at the ISS. She completed her D.Phil. thesis in Development Studies at the University of Oxford in 2008, focusing on decentralisation and local governance...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Ward Vloeberghs

(Erasmus University College Rotterdam)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mariz Tadros

(Institute od)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Joni Schwartz

(CUNY- LaGuardia)
Joni Schwartz is an associate professor in the Department of Humanities at the City University of New York - LaGuardia Community College. Her research interests include critical race theory, communication activism, mass incarceration and adult education....
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mays Abou Hegab

(CARE International in Egypt)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;
Boumlik, Habiba (LaGuardia Community College, CUNY) - Abstract Second Author