Holding local leaders and local service provision to account: the politics of implementing a local governance performance index

Lead Research Organisation: Mzumbe University
Department Name: Institute of Development Studies

Abstract

This research is exploring practical ways in which citizens in low income countries can hold their local leaders to account for their performance in delivering basic services and in reducing poverty.

In recent years there have been great efforts to decentralise the delivery of services and political power to the local level. The assumption behind this being that this would make service delivery more responsive to local needs. In reality this has sometimes led to local leaders and richer people being able to take control of resources and services.

There has been some research that shows that when local people, and particularly those from poorer and more marginalised groups, have access to information about their rights and the performance of local government and other service delivery agencies then they are better able to demand improvements and fairness in accessing services. They are also better able to challenge corrupt practices.

There has also been some helpful recent work in using national level data on government performance in order to hold national governments to account. Some of these include the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index, World Governance Indicators, Open Budget Index and Afrobarometer. This project, the idea for which comes from an important civil society activist organisation in Tanzania, proposes to adapt the ideas from these national indices to the local level.

This project, which involves a partnership between a Tanzanian University, The Foundation for Civil Society in Tanzania and the International NGO Research And Training Centre (INTRAC), Oxford, will use a participatory process in 3 local government areas in Tanzania to create a locally meaningful governance index. The project will then pilot and test this index as a tool for citizen engagement and improvement in local service delivery and governance performance over a period of 3 years. The project will use a range of traditional and social media and public events to publicise the results from the index and enable citizens to engage with local leaders. However, it will not apply the same publicity tools in all areas in order to assess the impact of these tools. The project is interested in how the index might contribute to public dialogue and political change. It will be exploring the extent to which a local index can provide a tool to produce better access to local services and reductions in poverty.

It is expected that the results of this research will benefit academic researchers and civil society actors working on the reduction of poverty in low income countries. It will also be of practical interest to national and local governments seeking to improve their performance in reducing poverty, as well as other organisations working on this issue.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
This research will be of benefit to academic researchers working on citizen participation, decentralisation, service delivery, poverty reduction, local government and civil society actors. It will also be of benefit to policy-makers, donors and civil society actors seeking mechanisms to enhance the effectiveness of local governance and metrics and measurement in relation to poverty reduction and inequality.
It will also potentially benefit citizens and civil society actors in Tanzania.

How will they benefit from this research?
Academic researchers will benefit through the creation and piloting of a local governance performance index in Tanzania. This will build on existing research on national level governance indices as well as local governance accountability mechanisms. An additional aspect of this research will be in pioneering a methodology that incorporates new forms of technology such as mobile phones and social media.
Policy-makers, donors and civil society actors will benefit from evidence based findings in relation to the possibility for creating a local governance index that specifically tackles structural inequalities and enables new spaces for public dialogue and scrutiny of local governance processes and politics.
Citizens will benefit from access to new spaces and new knowledge with which to tackle local governance issues relating to service delivery and local political leadership.

What will be done to ensure they will have the opportunity to benefit from this research?

Different audiences will require varying forms of engagement. Academic researchers will be engaged through the production of working papers and peer-reviewed published outputs. The Mzumbe University Centre for Society and Governance on-line open access journal will be used for the majority of these outputs in order to ensure accessibility to academics working in Africa and also to a wider policy and practitioner audience who do not have access to many mainstream academic journals.

For wider benefit we will create spaces for dialogue on the creation of the index and for dissemination of results using traditional and social media as well as public events. Dialogue with relevant stakeholders and citizens is an intrinsic component of the project methodology and therefore will be built into the project from start to finish. The partnership with INTRAC will also extend the impact to international civil society networks beyond Tanzania, through tailored publications and network sharing.

Key Stakeholders Workshop
This scheme requires a stakeholder workshop and we would hold this in Dar-es-Salaam at the end of the project. Given that this project is being led by a Tanzanian institution we anticipate that significant local networks of stakeholders will be mobilised and that interest and participation in a final workshop will be significant. We will not pay any sitting allowances or hold the workshop in a lavish hotel as is characteristic of most of these type of workshops. We will be seeking a more accessible and cost effective local venue that enables the participation of the widest range of stakeholders possible. We will also seek to ensure participation of key policy-makers from the relevant Ministries and Development Partners. Full media coverage will be facilitated for this event. The workshop will also make provision for stakeholders who are unable to travel through the use of social media tools.
 
Description That lines of accountability and blame in Tanzanian local governance are blurred and multiple.
This undermines the assumptions of many social accountability projects that aim to improve local governance.
We produced a performance index for local governance (LGPI), through action research, that acts as a tool for structuring a more constructive process of collaborative problem solving between local government actors and civil society organisations. This was tested with two District Councils in Tanzania. • A LGPI offers potential as a problem-solving tool for different actors to work together on local issues, overcoming weaknesses in many existing accountability initiatives
• A facilitated process, grounded in political and structural realities not theories, to explore perceptions between citizens, civil society, politicians and civil servants might strengthen the prospects for more responsive local government
• The use of the indicators should be embedded in local practice in these two districts, then reviewed over time to test the impact of this process
Exploitation Route This is currently a process of active collaboration with the Wajibu and the Act2 programme in Tanzania and with the International Training and Research Centre for NGOs (INTRAC) in the UK. The findings have implications for all those working on citizen or social accountability projects- as our research illustrate why many working assumptions of such programmes are problematic.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.chronicpovertynetwork.org/projects-1/2015/11/3/holding-local-government-to-account-can-a-performance-index-provide-meaningful-accountability
 
Description This is an action research project and so the process of doing the research necessitates active interaction and dialogue with a range of non-academic partners. Findings are therefore also part of an iterative process. We know that they have been useful at the level of local government in Tanzania, for local civil society organisations and are of interest and relevance to a wide range of development actors working on governance and social accountability. Since May 2018, the findings of the research also began to draw the attention of donors in Tanzania- specifically GiZ and Swiss Embassy. Anna Mdee and Andrew Mushi were invited to work with GiZ to understand on the findings of the research could inform their work with a local accountability NGO, Wajibu. This led to a collaborative workshop in October 2018 and ongoing advice to both agencies on their interactions with local government and civil society. Anna Mdee also met the Permanent Secretary in Tanzania responsible for local government. He was very receptive to further engagement and validated the findings of the research.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Helping donors questions assumptions on social accountability
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact This research is challenging the erroneous assumptions made by donors as to how social/citizen accountability can operate in contexts such as Tanzania. Some donors are better at understanding this issues than others- notably GiZ and Swiss. We are working with them to reframe the way that they fund civil society groups to engage with local government in Tanzania, through more appropriate and context specific problem solving mechanisms.
 
Description Impact on local governance in Tanzania
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Politics of accountability and local governance This area of work has considerable impact potential as the foundations are there- needs some focus on ensuring these happen. High level- changing the way donors approach accountability interventions, particularly in the context of more authoritarian rule. Foundation for Civil Society- Tanzania feeding into review of funding via DFID and INTRAC (8) ODI event- livestreamed leading to Duncan Green blog This led to Twaweza and DevelopmentGateway.org picking up the work.. now acting as an advisor to Twaweza Setting up of Centre at Mzumbe University in conjunction with Foundation for Civil Society Local level 3 years of interactive work with 2 District Councils, Ward Councillors and civil society actors. Changed local perceptions on service delivery. Revealing lines of blame and accountability. Problem focused. How can an index be an aid to local problem solving, rather than blame local officials. Has to fit new governance environment in Tanzania Local Districts- Mayor of Kigoma keen to adopt and roll out the index process.
 
Title a. Focus group discussion b. Reflective interviews c. Small workshops 
Description We are moving to phase two of data collection and this will be done through a further research process with targeted respondents. In this phase we will work closely with District Government and local civil society organisations. This will be done through: a. Focus group discussion b. Reflective interviews c. Small workshops This aim of this discussion is to stimulate a process of sharing the data and stimulating a collaborative discussion 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We have not applied these tools, we expect to start applying them in the second phase of the research that starts on 21/03/2016. 
 
Description Advisory and network collaboration 
Organisation International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Regular discussions on working papers, research process and findings.
Collaborator Contribution Rachel Hayman from INTRAC is an Advisor to the project- she supports analysis and dissemination of outputs, reviews working papers and participates in project meetings. She advises on communicates and sharing of findings with the civil society audience.
Impact See briefings and working papers
Start Year 2014
 
Description Communications with Overseas Development Institute 
Organisation Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have entered into an agreement with ODI on their support to the research and communications dissemination in the project. Dr Anna Mdee (CI) on this project is a Research Associate of ODI and an enabled this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution ODI have supported with the development and dissemination of our working papers.
Impact See link to URL where outputs can be found
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research collaboration with Foundation for Civil Society 
Organisation The Foundation For Civil Society
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We engage in a co-operation on this project. Researchers have regular meetings with FCS staff.
Collaborator Contribution FCS staff engage in project meetings, advise on the research process, and now are keen to adapt research findings into their own work in Tanzania
Impact See working papers
Start Year 2012
 
Description Engagement with Government Agency responsible for Poverty Reduction Programmes. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We have engaged Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) and share our research- agenda, process and preliminary findings of the study. Some of the findings are related to Cash Transfer programme TASAF is engaged in. We share with them what people think of their programme. One key outcome of this engagement is that TASAF has invited PI to participate in their field work and advice what could be improved based on their experience gained from the research. Also TASAF have promised to see the possibility of joint research (TASAF will fund it) and see how we can use the findings of the research to shape their research Agenda.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Impact event in Tanzania- with Foundation for Civil Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Meeting with Senior Staff from Foundation for Civil Society (Tanzania) to discuss how to use the findings to shape their future work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with Permanent Sec- President's Office for Regional Administration and Local Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 30 minute meeting with PS Engineer Iyombe to share publications and findings from the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to Tanzania Civil Society Week in Dodoma- Anna Mdee 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Civil Society week is organised by the Foundation for Civil Society in Tanzania in Dodoma, and is used to engage MPs and policy makers. My presentation related to the findings of our research on social accountability and how the assumptions used by civil society actors in Tanzania are problematic in relation to the reality of local goernment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public Event at ODI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Livestreamed event held at the Overseas Development Institute- London on the 22nd June 2017 Improving local governance and service delivery : Shouting at the system won't make it work!- a panel event with team members and external speakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.chronicpovertynetwork.org/blog/2017/5/15/event-shouting-at-the-system-wont-make-it-work
 
Description Sharing Research with Policy Advocacy NGOs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We attended two sessions of Local Policy advocacy NGO that were discussing findings related to Access to Water and second session was on Challenge of provision of free education in Tanzania. In both events we were able to share experience and preliminary findings of our research. Also we used the occasions to distribute flier of our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Sharing Research with Think Tank 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact We attended one session of Think Tank issues related to Poverty. During the session we were able to share experience and preliminary findings of our research. Also we used the occasion to distribute flier of our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Workshop with GiZ/Wajibu/Twaweza 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Commissioned workshop activity with Wajibu/GiZ to co-design a public accounting index for local government in Tanzania
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018