Social Protection Program in Ethiopia Helps Citizens Monitor Services and Budgets
Washington D.C., February 22, 2011—Ethiopia’s Protection of Basic Services (PBS) program, which is supported by eleven donors, is to receive additional financing of $420 million from IDA, the World Bank’s fund that assists low-income countries with interest-free credits and grants.
Launched in 2006, the nationwide PBS program has helped improve public service delivery in education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation, and rural roads. The new funds will continue this work as well as support the government’s anti-malaria efforts with the procurement of insecticide-treated bed nets.
In order to achieve improved results in local service delivery, the program works to increase transparency, especially of financial information, and help citizens hold service providers accountable for basic services.
Making progress toward the Millennium Development Goals
Ethiopia has made significant progress in its efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. With the support of the PBS program under which over 100,000 primary school teachers were recruited, net primary school enrollment rates increased from 68.5 percent in 2005 to 87.9 percent in 2010.
PBS also placed 35,000 primary health extension workers nationwide (two trained workers in every new health post in every community in the country), and contributed to increasing the child immunization rate in Ethiopia from 70 percent in 2005 to 82 percent in 2010.
Piloting the largest World Bank-supported social accountability effort in Africa
The PBS program, working closely with civil society organizations (CSOs), has successfully piloted a large scale social accountability effort that empowers citizens to voice their needs and demands relating to basic public services, and keep track of services that are due to them.
Measures taken in the pilot areas include increasing awareness among people of their rights and responsibilities relating to basic public services; promoting the use of evaluation tools like Community Score Cards and Citizen Report Cards; and holding interface meetings between providers and citizens.
An external evaluation of these measures notes that citizens in the pilot areas had a deeper understanding of their rights, and some became aware of specific services available to them. For example, in Fantalle woreda, pastoralists did not know that services for better management of draught animals were available, until they heard of it at a meeting with the Animal Health Clinic staff.
“The interface meetings made us realize that all civil servants are accountable to citizens,” said Roshan Giday, a farmer in Tigray. “We did not know this before.”
While awareness of rights is reasonably high in pilot areas as well as areas where the measures were not rolled out, the use of simple tools like Community Score Cards boosted a sense of empowerment in the pilot areas. About 99 percent of those surveyed in the pilot areas reported positive feelings of empowerment after using such tools, compared with 40 percent of those surveyed in areas where these measures were not implemented.
The social accountability pilot covered 86 districts or towns in a number of regions—Somali, Harari, Amhara, Tigray, Oromiya, Beni-Shangul Gumuz, SNNPR; and the federal cities of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
Social accountability measures will be rolled out to 170 woredas in collaboration with over 50 CSOs, as a means to make basic service delivery more effective, efficient, responsive and accountable.
Community Score Cards: the tool that worked best in Ethiopia
Access to clean water is a high priority for people across Ethiopia, and the citizens of Maji Shanan are no exception. Maji Shanan is a kebele, or neighborhood, in the Ziway Dugda woreda in Oromiya state.
Feedback from ordinary people living here, delivered to public sector employees through a Community Score Card, has had a direct impact on the efficiency of these employees, as these excerpts from separate interviews (conducted by an independent evaluator) show:
“I felt great and empowered when I gave a low score to the cashier of the Water Committee for being inefficient and ineffective in cash handling.”
—Citizen, Maji Shanan
“I was given a zero score and felt really bad. I have apologized and since then I have made a tremendous improvement in timely collection and deposits of cash every week in the bank. I keep records of all cash collected and disbursed. We have today Birr 23,564.33 in the bank and Birr 6,000 cash on hand.”
—Cashier , Water Committee, Maji Shanan
The external evaluation of the social accountability pilot noted that Community Score Cards worked best of all the tools that were tried out as part of this pilot. Nearly 85 percent of those surveyed said that this tool was simple and user-friendly.
Promoting transparency and encouraging timely audits
To complement social accountability activities, the PBS program promotes greater local transparency. Ninety percent of local governments have posted budgets in public places, and more than 3,000 local government officials have been trained in tools that explain budgets and solicit citizen feedback. More than 43,000 citizens have been trained on “budget literacy”.
The program has also strengthened Ethiopia’s fiduciary systems, by encouraging quarterly audits in local governments nationwide. The additional IDA financing will continue to strengthen accountability mechanisms, including through stronger public financial management systems, enhanced local transparency and accountability for service delivery, and better verification of basic service results.