The question of accountability

One question that is often neglected is that of accountability. To start with, you need to know yourself what you’re doing and achieving. But otherwise: do you create a monitoring system to report what you’re doing and what you’ve achieved just for the donor’s sake? Or do you (also) create it to show to your beneficiaries and stakeholders what’s been done and achieved?

  • If your system of indicators and reports focuses on reporting to the donors, we speak of upwards accountability.
  • If your monitoring system and reporting system is focused on sharing with the beneficiaries (and stakeholders), then we talk about downwards accountability.

In principle, the two are not mutually exclusive. In practice, we see that most projects only have upwards accountability, to the lead-NGO and to the donors. Very often, beneficiaries and stakeholders are very poorly informed about the general state of the project. They only get information on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, meaning information that directly concerns them. They do not have the opportunity to give feed-back, to give their assessment and appreciation of the activities and the project as a whole. In this respect, they are not really empowered and become recipients in the project instead of actors or participants.

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