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Learning Agenda Brief – How do CSO partners use child centered social accountability to steer dialogue between right holders and duty bearers for the advancement of children’s rights

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Save the Children Ethiopia,Save the Children International

Save the Children Ethiopia, with the support of Save the Children Sweden and Save the Children Norway, has been working with civil society organizations and implementing child centered social accountability (CCSA) program to improve the delivery of social services for children. The study addressed three key issues that the CCSA program contributed: developmental outcomes, participation outcomes, and accountability outcomes. This study was conducted to bridge the knowledge gap on what worked well and not well and use the findings for learning. The study also answers one of the Child Rights Governance Learning agendas planned for 2023 and contributed to evidence and learning.

How do CSO partners use Child-Centered Social Accountability (CCSA) initiatives to steer dialogue between right holders and duty bearers for the advancement of children’s rights?
The study employed a descriptive research design applying mainly a qualitative approach. In total, 34 CCSA groups were functioning (eight in Addis Ababa, 16 in Ada’a district in Oromia, and 10 in Guraghe and Siltie Zones in SNNPRS). Eight CCSA groups were selected randomly and 149 purposefully selected program participants participated in focus group discussions. Additionally, three Focus Group Discussions with children and six focus group discussions with service providers were conducted. Moreover, 20 key informants from duty bearers, Save the Children, and partners were selected using purposive sampling. The primary and secondary data were analyzed using a qualitative approach (thematic analysis). Issues were categorized to form different themes, which essentially answer the learning agenda (questions). Furthermore, individual narratives showing the contribution of social accountability with children’s programming in empowering children and adult members were used to substantiate the findings.
The study revealed that social accountability groups used the community scorecard (CSC) as a social accountability tool to assess the accessibility, quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of education and health services for children in their respective districts. The CSC is a monitoring tool for child-focused services that allows community members including children to track the quality, accessibility, efficiency, and effectiveness of child-focused services. The child-centred social accountability enabled to identified of gaps in service deliveries and child rights and protection issues, and advocated service providers and duty bearers to take progressive actions. Local administrative bodies and service providers (mainly health and education sectors) used the identified gaps in social services to improve their sector-specific planning and budgeting. Child-centered social accountability facilitated dialogue between children and duty bearers; empowered children and communities, and influenced service providers to address gaps in education, health services, and various child rights issues. It has also reduced the barriers to social inclusion of children from socially excluded community groups; and facilitated their access to education and other services.
Key lessons learned include capacity-building activities and information sharing increased understanding of children’s rights and duty bearers’ responsibility as a social contract, and participation of women and girls has added a gender lens to the child-centered social accountability programming. Investing in civil society capacity is essential for the successful implementation of social accountability and the effective implementation of social accountability requires synergy between communities, civil society organizations, and local government offices.

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