Implications of systems-wide approaches for policy and practice

What are the implications of systems-wide approaches for changing practice? This section highlights the main issues and steps for approaching accountability support on a systemic basis.

Identify the core accountability problem or function and the wider political economy

First, the design of any accountability programme needs to start with a strong understanding of the wider political economy and an initial analysis of the key accountability problem or function to be addressed (see Chapter 2).

A systems-wide approach requires a well-founded diagnostic assessment of the relevant accountability system. It may be particularly helpful to adopt a problem-driven approach in identifying the core accountability gaps or weaknesses to address (but with a focus on the functions of accountability rather than just the forms of accountability). For example, if particular accountability weaknesses are identified in overseeing budgets or in government’s responsiveness to service delivery needs, this should sit at the heart of any programme of support. From this, different dimensions of political economy analysis and stakeholder mapping can identify the key actors and institutions and the pivotal entry points for support.

It may prove especially helpful to ground accountability support in concrete issues. For example, in Peru a fruitful approach has been to focus on health issues as an entry point for political party support. USAID’s support to Acuerdo de Partidos Politicos en Salud (Political Party Agreement in Health) has helped create consensus among political parties on important health reforms (Box 3.2). While it has not been linked to parliamentary assistance (a remaining gap), it is a useful example of linking political party support to core sectoral concerns and issues.

Box 3.2. USAID support to political party platforms in Peru

USAID’s support to political parties in Peru has focused on a specific sector - health - in an effort to stimulate endogenous political platforms and cross-party engagement in health policy making. Participating political parties were supported in their efforts to 1) generate health information and data; and 2) strengthen their capacity to analyse health priorities and advocate for reform. One approach was to develop a novel cross-party consensus on a “Political Party Agreement in Health”. The project has also created space for other advocacy organisations to put forward policy proposals. This has reportedly been successful in influencing the platforms adopted by parties, although a lack of enforcement remains challenging since there is little monitoring to ensure that platforms are then implemented by participating parties.

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