Social accountability refers to the wide range of citizen actions to hold the state to account, as well as actions on the part of government, media, and other actors that promote or facilitate these efforts. Social accountability strategies and tools help empower ordinary citizens to exercise their inherent rights to hold governments accountable for the use of public funds and how they exercise authority. This book explains what social accountability means in the African context, distilling some common success factors and lessons that can help other practitioners and innovators in the field. Demanding Good Governance: Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa presents case studies from a cross-section of countries, drawing on initiatives launched and implemented both by civil society groups and by local and national governments in countries with a wide range of political contexts and cultures. The case studies demonstrate that although social accountability approaches are strongly influenced by many underlying legal, social, cultural, and economic factors, they can still be implemented in difficult political environments (for example, in Zimbabwe). They point to the overriding problem of access to information (Ghana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe) and the low readability of information when it is available (Benin). They demonstrate what can happen when governments and civil society work together to institute accountability measures (Nigeria) and the implementation challenges they face in environments ranging from decentralized (Tanzania) to more centralized (Senegal).
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