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Susan O'Leary- Giving voice to development beneficiaries
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Susan O'Leary- Giving voice to development beneficiaries


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  • 1. Giving voice to development beneficiaries: the role of downward accountability Susan O’Leary Monash University
  • 2. Motivation o Participation, Empowerment, Rights o Re-orients accountability relationships and mechanisms o Impact on planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • 3. Giving voice to the beneficiary o Desire, mindset and capability to embrace empowering potential of downward accountability? o Mechanisms to actively encourage and capacitate local communities
  • 4. Variations in how communities use and derive benefit from different types of accountability mechanisms
  • 5. Power ‘Presumably, if we want to see people empowered we consider them to be currently disempowered i.e. disadvantaged by the way power relations presently shape their choices, opportunity and well-being. If this is what we mean then we would benefit from being better informed about the debates which have shaped and refined the concept of power and its operation’. - Mosedale (2005)
  • 6. Research Focus What conditions are necessary to ensure that NGO beneficiaries reap the empowering potential of downward accountability mechanisms? • What role does power play in their design and use?
  • 7. Clarissa Hayward – “Power de-faced” (1998) Conceptualising power - important starting point in analysing empowerment outcomes Power-with-a-face agency Power de-faced networks
  • 8. Research Methods o Two case studies of development NGOs in India o Women’s empowerment programme Rural Life Unison
  • 9. Findings - overview Conceptualisation of power Underlying reasons for disempowerment Attitudes towards beneficiary capabilities Downward accountability mechanisms and controls Empowerment and development outcomes
  • 10. Governance & communication Community Governance • • • • Communication • Rural - Life Hierarchical Structured Inflexible NGO and experts Factual information Unison • Overlapping • Collaborative • Led by community • Purpose of plans are clearly explained
  • 11. Planning & Implementation • Planning • • Implementation • Rural - Life Undertaken by NGO Technical planning Emphasis on rules and discipline Rewards and punishments • • • • • Unison Co-produced with community Critical confrontation of societal issues Continuous needs assessment Advocacy Flexibility
  • 12. Monitoring & Evaluation Rural - Life Unison • Ensure adherence to • Compilation of data on What? rules societal issues • To highlight failures • To identify societal issues Why? and reward discipline and plan activities accordingly • Specific people • Compiled by all participants Who? designated as rule enforcers
  • 13. Empowerment outcomes Rural Life Unison • Perpetuation of a dependency on external help • Restriction of analytic ability for self-development • Societal roles are not challenged • Communities become knowledgeable and competent participants • Reliance on external help reduced • Re-configuration of thought patterns and societal roles
  • 14. Conclusion o Simply providing opportunities for participation is insufficient o A propensity to participate is shaped by power relations o Reasons for disempowerment need to be critically analysed and addressed