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'Strategic' and context appropriate social accountability practice is likely to play an important role in successful delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) on water and sanitation for all.

TitleSocial accountability for a water-secure future : knowledge, practice and priorities : discussion paper for Stockholm International Water Week, 2016
Publication TypeWorking Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHepworth, N
Pagination23 p. : 5 fig., 3 tab.
Date Published08/2016
Publisher Water Witness International
Place PublishedEdinburgh, Scotland, UK
Publication LanguageEnglish

An urgent rethink is needed within the global water sector and the international donor community if we are to meet the goal of sustainable water management and sanitation for all by 2030. Despite some success in mobilising funds, capacity and institutional reform, global efforts to nurture effective water institutions and implement progressive policy, legal and financing frameworks have stumbled. Social accountability practice on water is attracting growing interest as a means of improving sector performance, service delivery and governance. Inspired by work in other sectors, and by notions of participation, inclusion, transparency, integrity and rights, a new wave of initiatives are applying diverse methodologies to support systematic citizen monitoring and civil-society advocacy for water security. This paper draws on literature, examples of practice and practitioner insights to explore current knowledge, practice and impact, and to synthesise key lessons. In conclusion, it is proposed that ‘strategic’ and context appropriate social accountability practice is likely to play an important role in successful delivery of SDG 6. Two areas of controversy remain. The first concerns the shift in roles and relationships required across the sector: from service delivery to oversight, implementing partner to outspoken critic, beneficiary to watchdog, process master to equal partner etc. The challenges and conflicts of interests this presents need to be managed, and ‘accountability politics’ given proper consideration to ensure genuine representation for the most vulnerable. The second relates to how social accountability practice in the water sector can best be nurtured and supported, with questions regarding the availability and conditionalities of financing, the risks of delegitimising or stifling local effort, and the need for enlightened approaches to monitoring, evaluation and learning. Resolving these questions can help unlock the potential of social accountability for a watersecure future. [author abstract]


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Citation Key82265


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