The Hindu, February 29, 2012

A World Bank Institute initiative in good governance and accountability, Community of Practice on Social Accountability (CoPSA) in South Asia will be launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka this Wednesday. CUTS (Consumer Utility and Trust Society), a Jaipur-based civil society organisation, has been entrusted with the task of anchoring the programme in South Asian countries by the Affiliated Network on Social Accountability – South Asia Region (ANSA-SAR) based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“Several civil society organizations in various South Asian countries and across the world have experience in executing the tools of social accountability. These tools are known as low-cost techniques, which can leverage $1000 million programmes by spending $20 million and improve service delivery for the beneficiaries,” observes Roland Lomme, Governance Advisor of the World Bank, India Country Management Unit, New Delhi.

Defining the concept of community of practice, George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS International, informs that it is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better through regular interaction within the group. “It is a group having an identity defined by a shared domain of interest, having mutual relationships that enable them to learn from each other and the members who are practitioners,” he adds.

CoPSA will bring together people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.

The initiative is in the context of poor transparency and accountability jeopardizing most of the development efforts in South Asian countries. It is pointed out that social accountability is derived as a mechanism to empower citizens so that they may demand accountability from the authorities in power, or in other words, it is an approach towards building accountability through civic engagement.

“CoPSA is a strategy to create linkages between different actors, practitioners of social accountability for knowledge exchange, mobilizing innovation and new ideas and using this knowledge and innovation to advance the practices and action on the ground,” Naimur Rehman, Chief Operating Officer of ANSA-SAR points out. “This investment is made because of the realisation of the need to anchor such emerging practices and learning from each other,” Mr. Cheriyan observes.

“This mechanism consists of many approaches and tools related to performance monitoring by the community, participatory financial management and development effectiveness,” he adds.

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