Making Local Democracy Accountable

Representatives from 10 countries met in Zambia in early December to review methodology from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).

The methodology, called the State of Local Democracy Assessment Framework (SoLD), allows people to carry out citizen-led assessments of local democracy.
It has already been tested in nine countries and is currently applied in Ghana, Indonesia, the Philippines (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), and Morocco.

Based on the challenging findings of assessment teams made up of academics and NGO representatives, delegates shared experiences and discussed the various strengths and weaknesses of the methodology.

Specific issues included challenges for assessment teams in conflict situations, urban versus rural contexts, the impact of informal institutions, the adequacy of methodology in capturing the gender dimension, and the need to include accountability for improving service delivery as a specific topic in the assessment.

On the final issue, a small team of experts of which I was part, was invited to contribute to the SoLD discussion and to work more specifically on IDEA’s methodology for assessing accountability in service delivery which was piloted in Lesotho, Bolivia and Indonesia in 2011 and which will be revised on the basis of these experiences in early 2012.

Renée Speijcken, Researcher, UNU-MERIT / Maastricht Graduate School of Governance.

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