Social Accountability Mechanisms in Social Protection

SPRI Global is currently supporting Oxfam Cambodia in carrying out a study and a workshop on the most appropriate social accountability mechanisms on social protection for Cambodia.

Social accountability is usually defined as “the extent and capacity of citizens to hold the state and service providers accountable and make them responsive to the needs of citizens and beneficiaries”, strengthening the social contract between state and society. Specifically, this is translated into two different mechanisms: answerability, defined as the obligation of public officials to inform and explain what they are doing, and “enforcement”, defined as the ability impose sanction on those who violate their mandate.

Social accountability is relevant for social protection, as usually social protection beneficiaries tend to be poorer, more vulnerable and more politically marginalized than the average citizen. This often constrains their capacity to hold the state and service providers accountable for the delivery of social protection. Thus, social accountability is key not only to provide empower these vulnerable groups to pursue the enforcement of their social rights, but it is an important mechanism for creating demand for the expansion of social protection and for improving implementation in existing schemes, being tightly linked to a rights-based approach to development.

Consequently, the correct design and implementation of social accountability mechanisms should lead to an improve of the focus of public service delivery; increase the demand of transparency and expose government failure and corruption: facilitate effective links between citizens and local governments; and empower marginalized groups traditionally excluded from policy processes. Thus, social accountability is the cornerstone of good governance.

Cambodia has been involved in several programs related to social accountability in the past years, such as the Implementation of the Social Accountability Framework since 2014 (currently in phase II of implementation), the Social Accountability for Child Protection project, the Voice and Action: Social Accountability for Improved Service Delivery started in 2019, or the Innovations for Social Accountability in Cambodia (ISAC) program from 2019 to 2024.

This national analysis will be complemented with a broader study of other social accountability programs in Cambodia not just strictly related to social protection, as well as a global research of other country case studies or good practices around the globe.

The research and its conclusions will serve as input for a two-day capacity building workshop on social accountability for social protection to be delivered to civil society organization partners.

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