5.1.1 Enabling environment for social accountability
It is important to ensure that the mechanisms used to achieve social accountability will be effective. For this to happen there needs to be a suitable enabling environment in which these approaches will work. An enabling environment means the set of conditions that need to exist for some event, phenomenon or action to take place. According to ANSA-EAP (2010), an enabling environment for social accountability of government organisations has four pillars. These are listed below.
1. Organised and capable community groups
Well-organised community groups should be able to gather information about government programmes and services, and use this to directly engage public officials, politicians and service providers. They can ask questions and demand that they serve the community interest, justly, efficiently and effectively.
2. Responsive government
The government organisation should be willing to respond positively to the community and provide opportunities and processes for constructive community engagement. The government officers should believe in the value of social accountability and community participation in governance, and support these processes.
3. Access to and effective use of adequate and essential information
High quality and reliable information is an important prerequisite for any social accountability programme. Monitoring and evaluation of government’s performance should be based on reliable evidence to make credible claims about whether the government is performing well or not.
4. Sensitivity to culture and context
All the people involved should have a good understanding of contextual factors that could help or hinder the adoption of social accountability mechanisms. Hindering factors may include values and beliefs that sustain a culture of favouritism, corruption and mismanagement in the government.