If you only read one thing this week…

Accountability – is it a good idea? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 15, 2007, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you have 30 mins

The Humanitarian Practice Network has recently published a paper entitled: Concerning Accountability of Humanitarian Action. This is an interesting, and somewhat contraversial paper: in the current climate of increased demand for accountability among humanitarian actors, the authors ask us to step back and question whether accountability is really making us more effective and efficient. It argues that our unquestioning assumption that more accountability will lead to more effective programs can be damaging. It also points to the fact that there is no consistent understanding of what accountability means – on page 3-4 they highlight at least 5 different definitions. A table on page 9 is worth printing out for above your desk as it points out the multiple layers of accountability within any particular context: to governments, communities and individuals, to your professional standards etc. While the article doesn’t make me personally want to throw out all the accountability initiatives that we are undertaking right now, it does convince me that we need to a) be much tighter in our definition of what it means and b) closely monitor whether these initiatives really are leading to better programming or not.


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