Poverty Day

Session I.B: Empowering clients: Incentives to Deliver

Key messages on “How can the poor be empowered to effectively monitor service delivery?”

  • The emphasis should shift from service delivery to service co-production with the communities. Examples of co-production where the Bank has provided support include: the EDUCO program in El Salvador, land reform in Brazil, delivery of rural services in Nepal, and PROSCAP in Malawi.
  • Leading problems that these programs have faced include too many intermediaries, low efficiencies in transferring resources, hostile institutional settings, poor assignment of roles and responsibilities, incomplete incentives, logistical gaps in contracting and delivery of support services to communities, and legal barriers.
  • The main requirements for poor communities to participate and monitor the delivery of basic services are: a) real commitment from central governments to provide authority and resources to local authorities and communities; b) a focus on cost-effectiveness through subsidiarity: empowerment of communities results in better outcomes; c) mobilizing the latent local capabilities through both organizational, management as well as technical support; d) clarifying the functions amongst the different actors involved; e) managing the logistical problems derived from including large numbers of communities; f) a systematic approach to diagnose needs and monitor outcomes.
  • A major challenge for the Bank to empower poor communities through community-driven service provision is the issue of scaling up. Two such solutions to overcoming bottlenecks that have gone to scale include community-managed contracting of local training and other services, and communities providing technical assistance and supervision to other communities. There have also been powerful demonstration effects of successful CDD programs, but more hard work is needed to convey successes and bring policy leaders to see firsthand these programs in action.
  • NGOs can facilitate the identification of problems, can help build social capital locally and can provide technical support. But the Bank should avoid placing them squarely as intermediaries for the communities since this can result in unresponsive behavior similar to that of public service delivery agencies.
  • A fundamental mechanism to get poor people involved is to measure the quality of services by the users. Citizen report cards can help in two ways: a) by establishing a dialogue on the services provided (or not provided), b) by bringing about more responsive forms of governance at the local level. The Karnakata Citizen Report Card presents the innovative approach of including the views of both the service users (individually at the household level and collectively as community focus groups) and the providers to correlate findings and establish priority areas for improvement.