Enhancing citizen-state relationships by using Social Accountability tools? CARE Egypt’s experience with Egypt’s Social Fund for Development

By Mays Abou Hegab
Submitted to Session P4922 (Local governance and social accountability reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring, 2017 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
Egypt;
Arab Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
The 2011 revolution in Egypt has awakened new-found interest in democracy and government accountability from civil society. In this political and administrative context, policy-makers put an increased focus on transparency and accountability within the Social Fund for Development (SFD). In 2013, CARE Egypt received funding for the Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Emergency Labor Intensive Investment Project (SA-ELIIP) to support local community and third party monitoring activities on the grants released by the SFD. The grants are labor intensive investment projects in community development initiatives in health; education; and environmental sectors; and public works grants in water irrigation; pavements; school, housing, youth centers and nursery infrastructure maintenance. The project uses social accountability tools to enhance spaces of interaction between power holders and the local community.

Based on the baseline survey conducted in 2013, we found that 39% of the respondents defined good governance as being fair between the citizens, while 27% of them defined it as referring to citizen’s participation and taking their opinion into consideration. 98% of Civil Society respondents showed willingness to participate in initiatives that apply social accountability to improve services compared to 84 % of government respondents. The project mid-term evaluation conducted in February 2015 indicated that creating spaces of interaction between citizens and power holders has resulted in greater efficiency and responsiveness by SFD officials and better reporting on service delivery. Currently, an end line study is being conducted to assess social accountability practices in the local context and to measure the extent to which it has supported citizen voice and narrowed the distance between the state and the citizen. The end-line study is being implemented in select communities of Sharkeya; Beni Suef and Assuit governorates, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative research tools (questionnaires) apply proportionate sampling as follows: 50% Males and 50% Females; 50% ELIIP Beneficiaries and 50% ELIIP Non-Beneficiaries. Qualitative data collection tools employ in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with the project stakeholders. Interviews are documenting participants’ views on the effectiveness of the spaces of interaction between power holders and citizens as well as their willingness to continue to use this space.