Forum Syd / The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Realizing SDG’s through sanctions, rewards, and learning from experiences

Monday 29 August | 14.00-15.30 | Room: NL 357
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There is global recognition that improving public services such as WASH is a critical component of poverty reduction – even more so with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

People have the right to expect public services to be distributed according to human rights standards and principles. Services which are distributed without discrimination, can contribute to improvement of living conditions and poverty reduction. People have the right to sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.

By the same token, people should be able to raise their concerns when services are not delivered, or the quality is below standards. This is why accountability can become crucial in ensuring that public officials take responsibility for their duties and are answerable for their actions. To ensure compliance, sanctions, rewards, or learning from experiences would be of critical importance if applied in democratic ways and according to human rights standards and principles.

The event aims to address the importance of availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation in poverty reduction, sustainable growth and development, and how this can be realized by improving democratic accountability in service delivery, in particular through sanctions, rewards, and learning from experiences.

Programme

 #accountablewater

14:00  Opening of session and introductions.

Co-facilitators:

Ms. Helena Bjuremalm, International IDEA and Ms. Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd, Kenya

14.10  Short film on why accountability matters for development.

Introduction by Ms Helena Bjuremalm, International IDEA

14.15  Experiences of using sanctions, rewards, and lessons learned for better service delivery on the ground: What does the research tell us? Based on International IDEA’s forthcoming study: ‘Sanctions, Rewards and Learning: Enforcing democratic accountability in the delivery of Health, Education and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene)’ including cases on inter alia India and Malawi.

Ms. Sarah Polek, Program Officer, International IDEA

14.25 Short film on Forum Syd’s work on social accountability in Kenya.

Introduction by Ms Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd, Kenya

14.35  The case of Kenya: ‘Strengthening Community’s Drivers of Change towards Realisation of Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Molo and Menengai West Wards of Nakuru County, Kenya’, a joint study by Forum Syd and the UNDP Water Governance Facility at the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Ms Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd, Kenya

14.45 Introduction to group discussion on whether  political leaders and service providers respond better to being (a) sanctioned for poor performance; (b) rewarded for a job well done; or (c) from learning from experiences?

Co-facilitators:

Ms. Helena Bjuremalm, International IDEA and

Ms Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd, Kenya

14.50 Group Discussions.

15.10 Brief report back from group discussions.

15.15 Participants' takeaways, reflections and concluding remarks.

Co-facilitators:

Ms. Helena Bjuremalm, International IDEA and

Ms Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd, Kenya

15.25 Closing remarks: Dr. Alejandro Jiménez, UNDP Water Governance Facility at the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Conclusion

The session Realizing the SDG’s through Sanctions, Rewards and Learning from Experiences was hosted by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Forum Syd and the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility. Moderators of the event were Ms Helena Bjuremalm, International IDEA, and Ms Hellen Njeri Kuria, Forum Syd/Kenya office. Around 50 people attended, with academia and government being the largest two categories, followed by civil society. The twitter hashtag #accountablewater was used for the event.

As an introduction to the topic, an animated video clip was showcased by International IDEA on democratic accountability in service delivery.  This was followed by a presentation of the role of Sanctions, Rewards and Learning by Ms Sarah Polek, International IDEA. The presentation was based on the recently published discussion paper, ‘Sanctions, Rewards and Learning: Enforcing democratic accountability in the delivery of health, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene’. Sarah Polek presented the ways in which accountability mechanisms can be enforced as well as the benefits and problems with using the three mechanisms, referring to case studies of inter alia Mongolia, and the MENA region.

Adversial accountability would include sanctions, which need to be context specific, effectively enforced, and backed up by legitimate institutions and legal framework. Having unenforced sanctions can be worse than having none as it undermines authority and respect for rule of law. Cooperative accountability, on the other hand would focus on rewards or learning. Cooperative relationships appear to provide a better, more positive and satisfying working atmosphere. However, rewards need to be realistic and connected to actual excellence – not given as a standard bonus. Further, rewards should ideally speak to motivations beyond personal financial gain, such as:  long-term career planning, ideological beliefs and/or party standing (for politicians), or gains for an entire department, team etc. Lastly, learning is about involving all affected actors (decision makers, service providers and users) to collect and act on lessons learned. Such cooperation presupposes that people have the capacities and space to participate in meaningful ways.

After this another video was shown, explaining the role of sanctions, rewards and learning mechanisms in enhancing water and sanitation service delivery in Nakuru County, Kenya. The video showcased the accountability mechanisms used by two communities in Nakuru County, Kenya.

Following the video, Hellen Njeri Kuria presented the various ways in which the county government, the Rift valley water services board and the community members use sanctions, rewards and learning, based on a case study, “Strengthening Community as Drivers of Change towards Realisation of Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Molo and Menengai West Wards of Nakuru County, Kenya.” The study, as well as the video, was done in a collaboration between Forum Syd and the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility. The case study was validated by representatives from the community, local CBOs, Nakuru Water and Sewerage Company, Nakuru Rural Water and Sewerage Company, Rift Valley Water Services Board, County Government, in Nakuru town on the 22nd of June, 2016. 

The study found out that sanctions were applied by all key stakeholders targeted in the research. Most of the sanctions used either by right holders or duty bearers are provided for in the various legal frameworks governing water service provision.  Examples of sanctions by duty bearers included warning letters, penalties, and dissolution of the board of directors of the water service company. Communities, on the other hand, applied sanctions such as threat to withdraw support (votes) for those in elective positions, community memos, litigation, demonstrations and non-participation in events organized by duty bearers.

As for rewards mechanisms, although applied, they were not deemed as equally important. The duty bearers had a formal provision for rewards mechanism in their service charter mainly monetary incentives, office equipment and materials. On the other hand, communities used informal methods of rewards including recognition of good service provision, promise of votes in-case of an elected representative. As for learning, this was seen by all parties as work in progress, in that efforts were being made to make it deliberate and focused.  

The whole group was then asked to discuss ‘in your experience, do you believe that political leaders and service providers respond better to sanctions, rewards or learning?’.

The group discussing sanctions discussed how sanctions can be effective albeit in a roundabout way. Sometimes politicians ignore sanctions, and try to ‘eat as much as they can’ while in office. When they are voted out of office, they do not mind and just leave.

In the rewards group a participant mentioned an example from South Africa: municipalities; are responsible for water provision. As a reward scheme, the government ranked municipalities; the scheme was discontinued, however, due to the embarrassment felt by the municipalities who did poorly in the ranking. This group also said that we should not treat sanctions and rewards as separate, but rather as a circle that includes both.

The learnings group began by saying that sanctions, rewards and learning are parts of the same process. Learning can help change norms related to accountability. But how do you create a learning environment to make sanctions and rewards more effective? It was also mentioned that learning could be seen as a pre-condition to understand the context in order to tailor sanctions and/or rewards mechanisms.

The last group, titled ‘other reflections’ looked into what actors other than those mentioned during the presentations can do as a part of an accountability process, and the behavioral codes of politicians. The group also noted that progress can build on different types of sanctions and rewards (social norms or rigorous standards to be fulfilled, or both) depending on the context.

The closing remarks were made by Mr Alejandro Jimenez, Programme Manager at the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility. The discussion from the session demonstrated that all mechanisms (sanctions, rewards and learning) are challenging and context specific, and can even be counterproductive if not designed and enforced properly; successful cases show an iterative process to monitor and fine tune different mechanisms to serve the purpose; the combination of all these mechanisms are likely to work better than separated; and it is of essential to develop trust among key stakeholders for any mechanism to be useful; in that regard learning processes can be a meaningful starting point in many cases.

In conclusion, the audience had a chance to share their key take aways:

- All parts of society should collaborate to help build new solutions, for all users;
- It is surprising that so few favor using rewards as an accountability mechanism;
- Context matters as to what works with regards to sanctions, rewards and learning.  The moderators thanked all for their contributions.

Links to resources:

International IDEA video on democratic accountability

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkCUGCmNx7k
 

International IDEA study on Sanctions, Rewards and Learning:

http://www.idea.int/resources/analysis/sanctions-rewards-learning.cfm

Forum Syd/UNDP-SIWI video: https://vimeo.com/180311409

Forum Syd/UNDP-SIWI study on Strengthening Community as Drivers of Change towards Realisation of Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Molo and Menengai West Wards of Nakuru County, Kenya (forthcoming), link to be added later in 2016