A number of offices across the organisation is focusing on institutionalising CARE's accountability commitments - building accountable practices into all aspects of their work and making it a core part of their culture. These offices are profiled below, with links to key tools and good practices that they have in place. If you would like your office to be represented on this page and have good practices to share, please contact us!
CARE Egypt’s team emphasizes accountability across their internal and external engagements. This includes creating mechanisms for holding management accountable to staff and using social accountability mechanisms with partners to monitor public services. They see that these are interconnected - a way of modeling internally the good governance and social accountability work they promote externally. The team has developed formal processes to support accountability, including embedding mechanisms in key systems and processes, e.g. staff councils, HR practices, program design and M&E. There is an expectation set that internal and external feedback and complaints are addressed in a timely manner and that feedback from staff has a set response timeframe as well. But the team emphasises that the informal spaces are just as important. They feel strongly that accountability cannot be reduced to a bullet point in someone’s job description and should not be reduced to compliance. Instead, it should be founded on values and be part of an active, open and accountable culture maintained by management and all staff.
Below are several mechanisms that have helped promote this culture in CARE Egypt:
1. Accountability with Staff
a) 360 Feedback Template
CARE Egypt has developed an internal feedback mechanism that seeks feedback from direct reports, peers, and those who staff report to against core values and competencies markers. These markers are respect, GED acumen, adaptability, stress tolerance, operational decision making, managing performance, negotiation, building partnerships/commitment/collaborative relationships and facilitating change.
b) CARE Egypt Staff Council
The Staff Council in CARE Egypt is an internal accountability mechanism in the form of a small elected body established “to achieve better internal governance and control, as well as to enhance the sense of ownership and belonging through the involvement of employees in the organization's affairs”. The Council through a ToR has a clear set of roles and competencies to carry out including to ‘hold the program management and program support management teams accountable with respect to decisions, justifications behind decisions, and the guidelines that regulate them’.
The Staff Council engages in and is consulted on not only on programmatic issues but also on strategic (closing and opening of offices, organisational structures, and policy decisions) and operational issues (HR, staff concerns, knowledge management) concerning the office. CARE Egypt is considering using a smaller staff committee selected from within the staff council to work closely with the senior management team (SMT) to fast-track the process of institutionalizing accountability and to maintain a direct channel with the SMT on on-going issues raised by partners and programme participants.
c)Transparency about decision-making processes
2. Accountability with partners and communities
a) A participatory design approach
CARE Egypt has institutionalised participatory design approaches along with their partners. Because proposal development timeframes are usually too short to undertake a full participatory design, the country team actively solicits concept notes from local partners and conducts consultations with communities to better understand priorities and aspirations in advance of any calls for proposals. At the design and concept notes submission state, an emphasis is placed on the right partner for that particular project, especially looking at their level of mobility and access to community participants, and ability to collect local feedback on the draft concept. This forward planning has enabled the team to closely align local needs to the proposal and to build stronger relations with partners. It has also helped to establish and maintain better communication channels and introduce the philosophy and CARE’s model of accountability to the stakeholders early on.
3. Complaints mechanisms
CARE-Egypt welcomes any feedback or complaint from employees, stakeholders, local partners, and venders who have the right to complain if they face any corruption, sexual harassment, child abuse or any kind of violation of rights, dignity, or organizational core values by the organization or its staff.
4. The Third Party Monitoring tool, a promising social-accountability practice from CARE Egypt
Accountability: CARE defines accountability as explaining, being held responsible for and hearing the perspectives of others about how well we are meeting our commitments - and then actively making changes and improvements based on what we’ve learned and heard.
Social Accountability: Accountable Now platform defines it as an approach toward building accountability that relies on civic engagement, that is, in which its ordinary citizens and/or civil society organisations who participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability. The overall goal is to establish trust between the implementing parties and citizens by reaching consensus.
Forming synergies: the partnership between Social Fund for Development (SFD) and CARE International in Egypt
In 2014, the Social Fund for Development (SFD) Programmes contacted CARE International in Egypt with a proposal for the two organisations to work together to implement a social-accountability mechanism on a community project.The SFD has received a number of grants from key organisations, including the World Bank, to fund economic and social development projects. Their objective was to create more short-term employment opportunities for underprivileged individuals and communities in 3 governorates of Egypt, namely: Beni-Suef, Assiut and Sharkeya. The SFD identified CARE International in Egypt as the best development actor able to help them better understand the concept of social accountability and appreciate how it would benefit them. In the early stages, the main concern in the partnership was how to raise awareness on what social accountability actually means and entails, and why it would be relevant to apply social accountability in the programmes. Both parties, drawing on their main strengths, experience and diverse approaches made the most of the opportunity to partner and thrive.
Building an innovative tool within the Egyptian NGO landscape
When the Third Party Monitoring (TPM) Tool was first developed, few organisations, individuals or entities worked on social accountability in Egypt or MENA. Touted as groundbreaking, the TPM tool has been entirely designed and envisioned by the CARE Egypt team, with some initial consultations from the Inclusive Governance Team at CARE International UK. The Governance Programming Framework served as guidance for the new tool. Both SFD and CARE Egypt also hoped to use the tool’s success story to advocate for a social accountability drive that will be replicated across the country. Teams agreed that they needed a platform through which governments and citizens could get involved, discuss and negotiate with each other and agree on changes and improvements.
The TPM tool cycle and its impact on stakeholder’s relationships
The tool is composed of 5 pillars which are:
Once the information is collected, it is shared with citizens, the SFD and other implementing bodies. The Field Monitoring Guidelines was the reporting format used by volunteers to track input. During the public hearing phase, they had the opportunity to discuss the results of field visits and to develop a new implementation plan to reach new objectives.During the project, CARE only played a monitoring role in providing volunteers with soft-skill training sessions to introduce them to social accountability. The very first project welcomed 921 youth participants and resulted in 198 corrective actions. Youth volunteers also played a role in following up the recommendations.
This social accountability tool was developed to monitor and track the Sustainable Development Goals and help to generate citizen data. The tool had also a clear impact on improving interactions and trust between stakeholders. InEgyptit served also to break some taboos about what information-sharing means.
Overcoming cultural and institutional challenges
When this tool was first used in 2014 for the youth project, expectations were unrealistic. Youth volunteers showed a lot of enthusiasm to the point of becoming aggressive and CARE had to intervene several times to resolve internal conflicts.The second resistance came from within the Social Fund for Development itself, where some members of staff did not understand why they should include citizens to oversee their work. CARE built on good personal relationships to internally promote the tool and the positive impact of social accountability for the programmes. Managers had a particular role to play both externally and internally. Another challenge came from civil society organisations receiving grants from SFD. They found it difficult to accept that youth groups asked questions and raised concerns about their projects. They often rejected the approach as they feared that applying accountability would mean putting them on trial. NGOs staff were really resistant to applying the social accountability tool. They were mostly concerned with additional workload. It required some time and investment to introduce this new approach and its benefits.
Opportunities for scaling up the TDM tool in other contexts
CARE worked for 3 years with SFD and was able to replicate the approach to other governorates in Egypt. At the end of the 4th year of the initial project, CARE Egypt asked for another fund from the World Bank to help in institutionalising the process and replicating it in two other governorates.The tool itself has been adapted to other purposes. In an important cash programme: “Dignity and Solidarity”, CARE Egypt supported programme teams to include a social accountability component. CARE Egypt is now working with them in 4 governorates, building on the experience gained from the SFD.The Third Party Monitoring (TPM) tool has also been applied to a huge project currently implemented by CARE Egypt, giving direct grants to over 150 civil society organisations on the local level. Recently an EU funded programme called “Spring” implemented in consortium with four organisations, CARE International, Save the Children, Plan International and Action against Hunger used the TPM tool. The consortium received 3 million euros to evaluate the programmes and the work of each organisation. During the final session in front of the Egyptian governments, participants agreed to say that the model CARE Egypt had created for social accountability was a unique innovation which is recommended to be implemented in other organisations and other EU projects in Egypt.
An inspiring community monitoring model for CSOs
Therefore, the TPM tool showed its huge potential for replication and implementation in other programmes or countries. At the Accountable Now workshop Amr Lashin noted the great reputation of CARE International “as an organisation” among other CSOs as participants exchanged positive feedback about our internal governance and how we as an organisation are taking concrete steps to improve it. They also recognised that we are not afraid to admit our failures and challenges.Moving forward CARE Egypt would like this method to be replicated and used by other government institutions in order to address a fundamental issue: building trust between citizens, non-government organisations and public sectors.
CARE Ethiopia has defined accountability as one of its core values and principles when working with its partners and communities and is committed to giving more voice to the communities it serves in the design, implementation, and review of projects. Through this approach, CARE Ethiopia wants to better listen and respond to the concern of its different stakeholders and in particular to the women and girls whose lives CARE seeks to improve. CARE Ethiopia has already established a clear organisational accountability system and distinguished various levels of accountability: internal, lateral, upward and forward accountability which are defined in the Accountability Policy below. Additionally, they developed a set of 8 accountability benchmarksto be applied in their work. Finally, embedding accountability practices into daily activities, projects implementation and M&E processes ensure that all Staff at CARE Ethiopia is responsible for the promotion of accountability in the organisation and will contribute to a better impact of CARE’s work.
CARE Ethiopia Organisational Accountability Framework care_ethiopia_organizational_accountability_policy_framework_gc_edit.docx
Piloting citizen oversight committees made up of community and local civil society members provided citizen-led external monitoring of CARE’s work. CARE was able to improve the quality of our programmes by responding to three issues that were reported by these comités de vigilancia (citizen oversight committees):
In thinking how to strengthen accountability in Rwanda, the Country Office decided to begin with internal relationships and introduced a ‘management scorecard’ conducted twice a year. It is used to providea formal avenue for gathering and responding to staff feedback on management decisions (performance quality), onsetpriorities and directions for the country programme. Staff reaches a consensus rating on management performance at an ‘interface meeting’. The objectives of the management scorecard are:
CO leaders enthusiastically state that this led to almost immediate improvements in staff motivation and relationships, and made the next phase – broadening externally to partners and communities – much easier. They report that there is no finger-pointing, and as staff came to see this as normal, their fear to give critical feedback dropped. Management finds it helpful to manage expectations, and it builds collective commitment and energy. They claim that this approach of leading by example – start by making management accountable and demonstrating the benefits – works better than trying to impose accountability through compliance standards and reporting that can feel very rigid.‘Accountability must be lived, not imposed’, they say. ‘The staff of CARE needs to have a voice if you want to ask them to give impact groups a voice. Accountability becomes less threatening if people see it as part of the culture that applies to everyone’. CARE Rwanda is also experimenting with an electronic information sharing and feedback system with partners and impact groups through mobile phones.
CARE UK hosts the Inclusive Governance programme outcome area on behalf of CARE International and is committed to reflecting dimensions of their social accountability approach within the organisation. One of the key mechanisms set up to design and take forward this effort is the Staff Representative Group (SRG), an internal accountability space designed to hold the senior management team (SMT) to account. The group arose out of a demand from staff fora more systematic and institutionalized means for SMT to justify and communicate decisions, and most importantly, to generate a safe space for staff to voice their concerns. The SRG is a nominated group of up to 5 staff members representing the different departments within CARE UK. Their role is essentially one of liaison between staff and the SMT, to provide information, ensure that unrecognized issues are raised and advocate for these with the SMT.The SRG has various channels for staff to raise issues or provide feedback:
CARE Uganda has long been a champion in social accountability mechanisms. They use community-based monitoring systems, and they are focusing on scaling these practices up. With a local context marked by corruption, CARE Uganda feels that any approach to accountability must be institutionalisedand innovative. Teams are looking for new ways to amplify the voices of citizens and local organisations.
CARE Uganda has a long history working in partnership with civil society organisations or government partners in different programmatic areas such as Women and Youth Financial Inclusion, Natural Resources Governance and Women Empowerment. Through diverse projects, CARE Uganda has been extremely strong in encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships and in strengthening capacity-buildingthat helped partners to be more sustainable in the longer-term. The openness, flexibility, and support of CARE staffhave also been the conditions to build “partnership of equity”.
The ‘CARE Uganda Partnership Strategy’ developed in 2011 (see below) marked the first attempt to design a clear strategy to systematize CARE Uganda ’s approach to partners and helped in identifying the 4 main steps to build a successful and accountable partnership: 1) Scoping and building, 2) Managing and Maintaining, 3) Reviewing and Revising, 4) Sustain and/or moving on.
Last year in August in 2017, CARE Uganda organised a two days’ workshop, the ‘Partner Reflection Meeting’ (see report below), which stands as a new practice for improved communication and coordination between the implementing partners, based on honesty and transparency. Partners highly appreciated being given the opportunity to meet together and share openly on what has worked in the partnership and what needed to be improved in the near future. Therefore, CARE Uganda Office’s experience offers a great example of how CARE implements accountability practices with its partners.
However, long-term partners are also willing to see a new shift in CARE’s role that would lessen their dependencies on CARE and allow them to have a leading role in the national scene. They wish to see CARE able to take more risks advocating on local issues at the international level, and ready to stand behind them instead of protecting their own interests as an INGO.
More recent partnering experiences in Northern Uganda in humanitarian contexts are also significantly challenging CARE’s current business model while bringing the localisation debates at the forefront on how to reinforce local partners capacities during emergency responses.
A recent case-study conducted with CARE Uganda in February 2018 is shared below. It captures the key dimensions of CARE's Uganda accountability practices with some of its partners and includes main findings and suggestions for improvement.