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Gothenburg 1 Sept 2011

Governance assessments as a tool for enhancing social accountability Ingvild Oia Programme Specialist UNDP (Drawing on previous presentation by Paul van Hoof for UNDP, Namibia 2009) 1

Objectives and structure of the session 1.

Introduction to the concept of local governance and its present dynamics in relation to decentralisation and democratisation trends


Local governance assessments and how to optimize citizen participation and local ownership


How this can be done in practice: example of the Local Governance Barometer

After presentation: Practice governance: have a meaningful conversation between people of equal standing but diverse views


Service delivery protests South Africa

At first glance strange:  People protest against a government they overwhelmingly elected into office only three months earlier  Objectively seen the Gov of SA has achieved a lot over the last 15 years in terms of improved services  Government aims to establish developmental democracy  optimal participation 3

"We are burning stuff because those who are our mayors took money for themselves" Resident of Shakile near Johannesburg


Conclusions Idasa action research: 

Protests are about decreasing service delivery and the erosion of governance and democratic structures (nepotism, clientelism corruption).

Due to non-existing/non-functional communication structures between LG and citizens, people resort to violent protests in order to be heard.

Citizens loose confidence in Local Government as an institution that is able to respond effectively to the challenges that they as citizens face.

The sense that democracy does not work for the poor and unemployed is growing.

Government wants to respond but doesn’t know where to start  resort to state-centered measures like more internal control but not addressing the core of the matter (inter-relationship state citizens). 5

Conclusions regarding local governance 1.

Strong link between the quality of service delivery and the quality of governance: the what and the how are related


The complex problems we face in society nowadays cannot be solved without government, but government can’t solve them on their own


In order to be able to address governance at local level we need to make it tangible, measurable, debatable


We need tools that are:

a. Diagnostic to identify gaps in capacities or systemic defects a. Can be used for monitoring to improve accountability a. Will help to restore communication and dialogue between state and citizens 6

Governance definition The way in which services and public goods are allocated and delivered and the interaction between public, economic and social actors in society related to the allocation of public goods.


Local governance context The Legitimacy crises of many democratic governments is for a large part a reflection of poor governance at the level where state and citizens interact; the local level The structure and functioning of government at local level is mainly defined by:

a. The way in which decentralisation is designed and functioning b. Democratic challenges governments are facing in the relationship with their citizens


Reasons for decentralisation 1.

Development rationale. Bringing services closer to the people should lead to improved and context relevant service delivery and increased efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery


Democracy and good governance rationale. Decentralization has a potential to promote transparency and accountability in public administration and to promote democracy, from both the ‘supply’ and the ‘demand’ side.


Conflict management and peace building rationale. If people have better development opportunities and their voice is taken into account, they are less likely to resort to violence to resolve their grievances.


Types of decentralisation •

Deconcentration: Transferring responsibilities to field and subordinate units of government (no distinct legal entity).

Devolution: Transfer of competencies from the central state to distinct legal entities at lower level. It acknowledges the importance of local ownership and the need to adjust planning and resources allocation to specific local settings  potential for downward accountability + active citizen engagement.

Local Government  Government at local level  what do you want to assess?


Recent trends in decentralisation From “decentralization of government” to “decentralized governance” or “democratic local governance”: the art of governing communities in a participatory, deliberative and collaborative way to produce more just and broadly acceptable outcomes.  more attention in basic service delivery process is placed on government-citizen relationships, civil society engagement, public private partnerships, social accountability, etc.


Democracy challenges 1.

Consumer culture (culture of grievance) Rights based approaches, western individualistic definitions of democracy and expansion of consumer culture  relation between citizen and state is reduced to one of consumer   provider of services. Citizens’ responsibilities and agency for social action/self help are lost.


Political disaffection and failures of representation Loss of legitimacy of representative democracy and public institutions  people alienate from politics  “we against them” instead of “together we can solve”.


Technocratic management Solutions by government are symptomatic and introduced top-down, ignoring local knowledge and local assets  civic disablement.


Conclusion for (Local) Governance assessment In order to improve governance (which deals to a large extend with the quality of citizen-state interaction) we have to work on both the demand and supply side (a more engaged civil society on the one hand and a more responsive and accountable government on the other side). This requires us to re-think our notion of participation and citizenship which should focus more on agency and on citizens as “shapers and makers” than as “users and choosers” and on the state as catalyst and facilitator and co-creator rather than provider.  How to integrate such notion in our assessment tools???


Why is it important to address good governance? “Good governance is the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development� Kofi Anan. 1.

Quality of governance affects quality of service delivery (good governance as a means to improve livelihood)


Quality of governance affects legitimacy of the state governance as an end: building local democracy)



Measuring Governance 1.

You need to define the “ideal” situation (if you don’t know where you want to be, you can never be sure how good you are doing at the moment)


You need a tool to asses the reality against the ideal

Defining the ideal: 1.

Universal definition/criteria


Define “good (local) governance” within the specific context in a participatory manner  consensus


Essential characteristics of “democratic local governance” UN-Habitat Guidelines on Decentralisation and the Strengthening of Local Authorities (April 2007):

An increase in functions of local authorities should be accompanied by measures to build their capacity.

Participation through inclusiveness and empowerment of citizens shall be an underlying principle of decision-making, implementation and follow-up at the local level.

All different constituencies within civil society should be involved in the development of their communities.

The principle of non-discrimination should apply to all partners and to the collaboration between stakeholders.


Essential characteristics of “democratic local governance” cont’d •

Representation of citizens in the management of local authority affairs should be stimulated, wherever practicable.

Local authorities should promote civil engagement and new forms of participation like community councils, e-democracy, participatory budgeting, civil initiatives and referendums.

Records and information should be maintained and made publicly available.

Democratic local governance pays equal attention to the process of decision-making as to the actual results (improved services)


Why is it important to address good governance at the local level? 

Direct interaction between government and its citizens.

More services are decentralized to the local level and an increasingly larger part of government budget is spend at the local level.

It is at this level where “consumerism” and citizen dissatisfaction is most apparent and where government (or the state as institution) derives a large part of its legitimacy.

Poverty = exclusion from decision-making. Structurally resolving poverty requires a change in decision-making processes

If local government is not accountable to its citizens or not responsive to their expressed needs, people will loose trust in the processes that regulate interaction and in their (local) government.


Reasons for Local Governance Assessments If good governance is important than measuring governance is equally important. •

Diagnostic: For identifying gaps and constraints in local policy implementation; for unearthing systemic deficits, for identifying specific capacity-building needs, for evidence based planning on local governance.


Monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring results of capacity building efforts and changes in governance and for providing an objective account of achievements of local government, and thus building accountability.


Dialogue and advocacy: For creating a platform to involve civil society and citizens in local governance and to empower stakeholders to demand change based on evidence.


Do’s and don’ts of Local Governance Assessment 1.

When dealing with Governance we need to be aware that there is not one reality. We are dealing with different stakeholders with different perspectives and therefore different expectations. These expectations are often not explicit and sometimes not realistic. This is why an assessment process is usually a capacity building process at the same time and a start of a dialogue process. Which is why it is extremely important to make the assessment as inclusive as possible.


Do’s and don’ts of Local Governance Assessment 2.

You can’t just copy an assessment tool from other countries, while you even might have to adjust your instrument to a regional or local level depending on the geographical diversity in your country. This depends amongst others on: – The extend and level of institutionalisation of devolution (i.e. local government’s mandate and level of autonomy); – The existence and actual functioning of democratic structures and processes (e.g. the extend of the invited space for citizen participation); – The capacity of local government in terms of staffing, resource availability and resource mobilisation; – The vibrancy and capacity of civil society (including the media) and the voice of citizens.


Do’s and don’ts of Local Governance Assessment 3.

Governance assessment is not the same as performance measurement although it is related. Making it part of a local government performance management system could undermine the purpose of the whole exercise to unearth deviances in governance as municipalities involved will strive to obtain a high score and not a real score;


Who should own the methodology and the results of the assessment? Is it a central government issue: curbing bad governance, is it a Civil Society issue: holding government accountable or is it a Local Government issue: improving its own performance?  who is the leading agent?  neutral facilitator 22

Do’s and don’ts of Local Governance Assessment 5.

The driver of the process of Local Governance Assessment should have its own idea of what “democratic local governance” ideally means in the specific country context as this defines the framework and benchmarks against which you assess the actual situation. One should then either make clear at the start of the exercise to all the stakeholders what that “ideal situation” is or include a collective visioning exercise in the consultation process. Balance local ownership with comparability.


Be clear on the purpose of the exercise. Is it done to influence policy making at national level? Is it mainly to identify actual capacity gaps at local level or is it to initiate an actual dialogue process at the local level. The purpose should define the instrument, not the other way around. 23

Ensuring inclusiveness Optimal participation = the best possible form of participation in a certain context -

Conceptual considerations: How does society define democracy? What is ideal participation in terms of:  Active participation in the selection of methodology  Participation in defining what good governance means in the local context  Equal representation of views in the assessment  Equal say in selecting priority areas for action  Dissemination of outcomes Practical Considerations: - Purpose of assessment - Cost-benefit considerations


Ensuring inclusiveness 1.

Treat local governance assessment as a collective learning process to start understanding each other. ďƒ Work with groups individually (to stimulate the emergence of true opinions): collect scores, motivation and issues ďƒ  and work with them collectively (to stimulate dialogue). Use differences in perceptions and scores as a starting point for dialogue and collective prioritisation.


Inclusiveness starts at the definition and selection of stakeholder groups. Many of the instruments give you the freedom to select stakeholder groups.


If you don’t include marginalised groups or issues of exclusion explicitly they will not be heard (stakeholder, sub-indicators, segregated data)


Participation is also dissemination of findings. Aim to do so as broad as possible (local radio) 25

How to ensure that findings are used 1 1.

Capacity development should be issue based. This requires intensive tailor made support.


Ensure high level political support and buy-in to ensure that the more systemic issues that emerge are addressed.


Ensure on forehand that there is a budget and technical support available to address capacity needs identified at local level.


Ensure that your methodology is rigorous, i.e. that the results are accepted by all stakeholders. One way to do so is to triangulate your methodologies.


How to ensure that findings are used 2 5.

Apply the principle of “good enough governance�: select what is really critical and prioritise with all stakeholders. Address direct capacity needs of all stakeholders and tackle systemic issues at the same time (requires high level government commitment).


Build on the strengths that are identified during the assessment and don’t focus on the shortcomings only (appreciative enquiry).


Provide capacity development and backstopping to civil society to enable them to hold government to account on the agreed upon agenda


Idasa’s Local Governance approach 0. Introduction to municipality and reference group + local contact person 1. Interview local resource persons ďƒ identification of issues



2. Citizen Report Card

3. CSO and Media performance ass.

4. Local Government performance (using existing data)

5. Municipal service profile

6. Local Governance Barometer exercise

CSOs & media Government Staff

7. State of governance report and collective Governance improvement statement

Councillors Private sector

8. CSO and media Gov. capacity assessment

Capacity development

10. CSO and media Capacity Development. Plan

9. LG Governance Capacity Assessment

11. LG Capacity Development. Plan (councillors + staff) 28

Local Governance Barometer Core question addressed: Why are the services provided not as they should be? The LGB measures the perception of the quality of governance at local level from different stakeholder perspectives. The strength of the methodology, compared to similar tools, is that it combines standardisation with local adaptation by translating universal complex criteria in locally specific, measurable and easy to understand indicators ďƒ context specific but comparisons are possible. Universal criteria: 1. Effectiveness 2. Transparency and rule of law 3. Accountability 4. Participation and civic engagement 5. Equity and fairness


Local Governance Barometer Advantages: It stimulate consensus building around good governance as all stakeholders are involved in defining the standards per criteria and indicator. It stimulates dialogue as stakeholder perspectives are presented individually and used for collective reflection. It is action oriented as it indicates areas of below standard performance and identifies capacity gaps, while outcome can be used to lobby for change. It raises consciousness about the importance of good governance Disadvantage: Local models need to be designed which requires in-depth context knowledge


Local Governance Index

Core model Participation and agency


Rule of Law and transparency


Effectiveness and efficiency

SA local model Internal control

Legal framework

Participation Strategy

External Accountability

Corruption incidence

Community involvement

Oversight role


Citizens rights and duties

Service delivery standards

Community Dialogue

Legal framework

Vision and plan

Access to Power

Financial Management

Access to income and services HIVAIDS strategy Community safety strategy

Indicators and data

Decision-making Satisfaction of service delivery Leadership



Citizen participation in Local Governance Barometer process 1.

Perspective of un-organised citizens on service delivery and governance ďƒ Citizen Report Card


Participation in the definition of good governance and benchmarking:


Stakeholder groups score individually and discuss collectively but separately (openness) and meet plenary (start of dialogue)


Collective agreement on governance statement and agenda


Start of dialogue platform and practice of mutual accountability


Assist media/CSOs to disseminate results + follow up

a. Sub-criteria: National Steering Committee b. Indicators and benchmarks: Provincial/local level


Average LGB Scores for 16 municipalities in SA 70











ul e

To ta l

Eq ui ty


of la w

Ac co un ta bi l it Pu y bl ic pa rti ci pa tio n

0 Ef fe ct iv en es



Governance indicators


Measure change/impact Governance municipality A in 2004 and 2008 100 80 60 40 20 0 Effectiveness

Rule of law



Public Participation




- Governance improved from 40 to 49 between 2004-2008 - Rule of law improved most (24 to 50) - Public participation decreased ďƒ needs attention in next period 34

Compare situations Governance in municipality A and B in 2009 100 80 60 40 20 0 Effectiveness

Rule of law


Municipality A

Public Participation



Municipality B

- Overall score almost the same - A could learn from B how to improve on accountability - B could learn from A how to improve on effectiveness and equity 35

Local Governance Barometer SA 1.

By comparing stakeholder scores, we were able to detect differences in perception about e.g. what ideal participation should look like. This created the starting point for dialogue between the stakeholders as well as the start of capacity development interventions by identifying priorities and action plans with measurable benchmarks.


By comparing scores for different municipalities on the main criteria we were able to unearth underlying capacity gaps and establish peer relationships between municipalities.


Practical policy advice to the department of Provincial and Local Government regarding the improvement of public participation and engagement ďƒ Idasa is now involved in a policy revision process.


Conclusions By conducting Local Governance assessments we are able to assess the quality of governance at local level in such a way that: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Governance becomes measurable and thus discussible at local and national level; We can detect capacity building needs amongst all stakeholders that if addressed properly can strengthen governance; We are able to prioritize, plan and budget for related capacity building activities; We can (based on a sufficient number of assessments) provide evidence based policy advice to central government. Start to create emerging social contracts between government and civil society by showing that they work towards the same objective albeit with different instruments and that win-win solutions to governance problems are possible. 37

For more information on local governance assessments: For more information on the Local Governance Barometer:

Thank you


World cafĂŠ question: What can we do to ensure local ownership of and optimal participation in governance assessments at the national and/or local level?



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