In partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation, One World Trust worked on a project across three Commonwealth countries, Belize, India and Uganda, and one region, the Pacific islands, to stimulate discussion among CSOs on what it means to be accountable.
Working with Society for Education and Research (SPEAR) in Belize, Voluntary Action Network India (VANI)in India, Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) in Uganda and the Pacific Island Association for NGOs (PIANGO) in the Pacific region the project engaged CSOs in each location in developing a set of common principles for accountability and developed a set of country toolkits that provide assistance to organisations in putting accountability into practice.
While the toolkits are no panacea to the challenges of accountability, they demonstrate that accountability is achievable for CSOs, and that few organisations are starting from scratch. While there are gaps that need plugging, many CSOs are already using innovative techniques to be accountable to the groups they affect. We hope the toolkits will help form the basis for ongoing discussion and learning on issues of CSO accountability and in turn lead to organisations strengthening their legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness as agents of social change.
The aims of the toolkit are to: 1 Identify common principles of accountability for CSOs; 2 Identify current good accountability practices that exist among CSOs and identify areas where capacity needs building in the sector and further support is required; 3 Provide practical steps, tools and frameworks that CSOs can use to realise accountability in their day-to-day activities and interactions with stakeholders.
The framework is organised as folllows:
Section 1 describes how the toolkit was developed, what it aims to do and the objectives of the larger project on CSO accountability in Commonwealth countries. Section 2 engages with the question: What is accountability and why is it important? Section 3 provides an accountability self-assessment for CSOs. Section 4 details how CSOs can put accountability into practice.