Social accountability, governance, corporate social responsibility, transparency and integrity etc, are new words being increasingly used in our local vocabulary in Tunisia. Civil Society organizations are very active in integrating new concepts such as social accountability and translating them into actions .One of the main assets of Tunisia after the revolution would be without any doubt the emergence of the civil society as a force that will be able to balance the political landscape and foster the democratic transition.
According to the World Bank, Social accountability refers to the engagement of citizens and Civil Society Organizations with policy makers and service providers to ensure that public officials account or take responsibility for their actions and public institutions are more responsive to citizens’ needs.
The World Bank is undertaking global initiative, through its Social Development Civil Society Fund to empower civil society organizations in developing countries to enable them to undertake social accountability i. Few months ago the CSF has launched a global initiative towards supporting non Governmental Organizations to undertake activities to reinforce social accountability .This initiative aims at providing strategic and sustained support to beneficiary groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) in developing countries that are working with their governments, to promote greater transparency and accountability.
A call for proposal was launched as part of this initiative towards CSOs working on issues pertaining to Social Accountability in various sectors in select countries in the Africa and the Middle East and North Africa regions. The CSF looks for active and capable NGOs to undertake on the ground activities to disseminate a culture of accountability and empower citizens to stand for their rights in a very proactive and constructive manner by holding public officials accountable for their decisions.
Over 300 proposals were received. After careful selection of this highly competitive grant, 24 winner organizations were chosen, representing the following countries Egypt, Moroocco, Sudan, Kenya, Zambia , Nigeria and Tunisia.
The Tunisian winner is the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, Committee on Anti-corruption .The WFEO CAC is hosted by Tunisia since 2005 and chaired by Kamel Ayadi former president of the WFEO, and renowned expert on corruption .A first workshop meeting with the winners was held in Istanbul .During the workshop the CSF young, competent and dynamic team presented to the winners the world bank social accountability tools and helped them fine tune their proposals to better accomplish the announced objectives .
The Tunisian winner project focuses on corruption. WFEO has been very active over the past 15 years in Tunisia and Africa. Its committee on Anti-Corruption has undertaken a number of capacity building initiatives in Tunisia and elsewhere.
The WFEO project’s objective is to foster civil society engagement to address corruption and advance governance, transparency and accountability of public officials and service providers in Tunisia. The proposal is timely and most relevant as it meets an urgent need of the society. Tunisia is undergoing a critical transitional period which requires increasing civil society capabilities to disseminate culture of transparency and good governance.
The project consists of three complementary components, including an online platform, Virtual Knowledge Management Centre, a ” Train the Trainers Program” on corruption and a study about the major causes of corruption and fraud in procurement.
WFEO-CAC has been very active over the past months in conducting trainings across the territory of Tunisia. A number of trained trainers are now ready and willing to disseminate the training they received. A workshop was also organized a few weeks ago addressing corruption and fraud in procurement. This workshop gathered together for the first time civil society activists, academic, business representatives, Tunisian and foreign experts and public officials to discuss openly and constructively about fraud and transparency in procurement. A number of recommendations emerged from the gathering and are now subject of discussion between the WFEO experts and the Government.A major reform will be undertaken in the coming months to adapt the procurement system to the growing demand on equity and transparency.
Another round of call for proposals was again launched a month ago by the World Bank Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) . A meeting was hosted by the World Bank office in Tunisia to announce the new initiative and encourage CSOs to suggest proposals that will be examined by the GPSA. The meeting was brilliantly moderated by Donia Jemail from the World Bank.