How women in Koh Kong are holding authorities accountable
Last week saw communities and local authorities in Koh Kong province take a big step towards improving government services which support community members to develop their livelihoods.
Since March 2014, CARE and local partner HEAD have been piloting the multi-sector scorecard, an interactive process which helps community members give feedback to those providing key services such as health, education and government services at commune level. This allows communities to hold them accountable for the quality of services available while creating opportunities to plan for improvements. CARE has taken this a step further to use the scorecard to encourage women to voice what is important to them for improving their income and advocate for improved support for rural farmers.
CARE organised meetings for different departments – the Provincial Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs and local authorities in the districts of Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor – to score themselves on the quality of the services they provide to their communities.
At the same time, community members across 28 villages scored these departments on the same areas of service. Many of those who joined the scoring are female farmers who earn income raising animals or growing vegetables around their home and are now encouraging others in their communities to do the same. Therefore, the quality of support available to them – whether through improved access to water in their commune or greater availability of agriculture training – can have a big impact on women’s lives.
At the interface meetings held in early June, the two groups were brought together to compare their scores. The results showed that authorities often scored themselves higher than the communities did. For example, while over half of district agriculture authorities thought they were providing an acceptable amount of guidance on how to use composting to improve soil quality, two thirds of community members said that they had very poor knowledge of this.
Bringing them together to compare how authorities perceive the support they provide with the reality of communities’ experiences was very positive. It helped them to work together to find ways to bridge these gaps.
In Sre Ambel district, the head of the agriculture office plans to organise training on soil improvement and incorporate this into their five year action plan. Other plans in this district include anything from communes taking action to limit the spread of disease in animals to the Director of the Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs committing to work with the Provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sport to help more girls access scholarships to attend high school.
CARE continues to use the multi-sector scorecard to increase the accountability of local authorities to the communities they serve and ensure the voices of mariginalised women are heard.
The multi-sector scorecard is part of the Integrated Social Accountability Framework which has been developed by the World Bank from CARE International’s Community Scorecard. CARE has been piloting this as part of the Local Economic Leaders project, which is funded by the Australian government, with the dual aim of increasing women’s voice and participation in their communities while supporting them to improve the economic prospects. To learn more about this project see http://www.care-cambodia.org/#!lel-project-profile/c1l0e.