Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Vietnam

3Ts

By Adel Briones

A team from ANSA-EAP Foundation conducted a "Workshop on Social Accountability: Tools & Approaches" at the Army Hotel in Hanoi City, Vietnam, on April 8 to 10, 2015.

The resource persons cum facilitators were Adelfo V. Briones, Learning Manager, and Gladys Honey Fontamillas Seloso, Project Manager.

The learning event was held upon the invitation of the Australian Foundation for Peoples of Asia and the Pacific in Vietnam (AFAP). The activity was crucial for the Awakening the Silent Voice Project led by AFAP and supported by the Irish Aid and the Public Participation and Accountability Facilitation Fund (PARAFF). The project aims to empower local people and civil society organizations (CSOs) to effectively engage and advocate in public programme and service delivery planning and monitoring in two of the poorest provinces in Northwest Vietnam through the introduction of a localized social accountability approach and development of a simple, efficient and effective monitoring framework for the Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) and National Target Program (NTP) 135 Phase III.

The workshop participants represented partner civil society organizations of AFAP who are working on specific social development projects in the countryside. A number of local government officials, the academe, and support staff from AFAD and PARAFF were likewise present. All in all, a total of 45 participants were registered.

The workshop was aimed to help the participants have a common understanding of social accountability principles, methodologies and enabling conditions; a shared appreciation of the need for social accountability in Vietnam; acquire basic skills in designing appropriate social accountability tools; and consider social accountability practices and their applicability in the Vietnamese context.

The workshop was guided by ANSA-EAP’s 3Ts learning framework of “Tales, Tools, and Techniques” (http://www.ansa-eap.net/resources/research-strategy/). Using the adult learning approach, the facilitators cum resource persons conducted experiential learning activities and provided inputs on the concepts, principles, frameworks, and competencies of social accountability; guided them in the development and customization of the social accountability tools; and critiqued their action plans. The discussions and conversations were mediated by professional translators.

The workshop had two major outputs: a) a set of draft social accountability tools that were developed to address the participants’ social accountability issues and needs, and b) 100-day action plans designed to implement the roll-out their social accountability tools in their on-going projects.
It is expected that the workshop will provide the stimulus to mainstream social accountability and deepen practitioners’ understanding of citizen engagement in Vietnam, especially through the Awakening the Silent Voice Project of AFAP.

However, while its engagement with the three partners has been limited to the current capability building activity, ANSA-EAP offers several pointers that it believes should be considered in future initiatives. These are a) a more strategic approach to mainstreaming social accountability, especially capacity building of key actors, b) establishment of partnerships with the country’s higher academic institutions as knowledge exchange and capability building hubs, c) coordination and interface of common social accountability activities, d) strategic and deliberate partnerships with government offices and units at all levels, and c) enhance social accountability partnerships within the Mekong Delta region.

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