Social accountability compromised?

9 April 2013

The World Bank’s controversial Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA), a new mechanism for the Bank to provide financing directly to civil society organisations (CSOs), opened its first call for proposals from mid February to mid March. Decisions on grants from the GPSA, which some critics have worried may be used to buy off opposition to Bank-funded projects, will be made by a nine-person GPSA steering committee, equally composed of donors, developing country governments, and CSO representatives.

Fifteen nominations for the CSO chairs were collected from the World Bank Institute-funded Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability (ANSA) of Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as networks in Europe, Japan, Australia and North America. The final three were selected by “a multi-stakeholder group of persons from the Bank, donor agencies (US Agency for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency), and CSOs (Instituto de Comunicacion y Desarrollo, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law)”. Of the two CSO representatives selected from developing countries, one is from TrustAfrica, a grant making organisation endowed by the Ford Foundation, one of the steering committee’s donor chair holders, while the other is from ANSA-Arab World, a branch of ANSA.

The first call for proposals only accepted submissions from the 14 countries that have ‘opted-in’ to the GPSA, including countries facing accusations of human rights abuses, such as Belarus, Tajikistan and Honduras (see Update 85). More than 200 proposals were submitted in the first round, including over 100 from Malawi and Bangladesh, two of the three developing countries represented on the steering group. Once assessment of the submissions is finished, the GPSA will “make selected proposals available to governments for a 10-day vetting period.”