Public Organization Review

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 317–333 | Cite as

The Role of Social Accountability in Poverty Alleviation Programs in Developing Countries: An Analysis with Reference to Bangladesh

  • Abu Elias SarkerEmail author
  • Mohammad Habibur Rahman


In spite of different approaches being experimented over the past six decades, poverty alleviation programs in the developing world have largely failed to improve poverty situation. Of all the factors responsible for the growing trend of poverty, the accountability of public officials remains an intriguing one. The relative ineffectiveness of conventional accountability mechanisms has given rise to social accountability practices. This paper aims to explore the terrain of social accountability and its role in poverty alleviation programs in Bangladesh. The paper argues that despite the great potentials, social accountability mechanisms work with difficulties in Bangladesh owing to contemporary socio-economic and political realities.


Social accountability Poverty alleviation Developing countries Bangladesh 


  1. Ackerman, J. (2004). Co-governance for accountability: beyond “exit” and “voice”. World Development, 32(3), 447–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ackerman, J. (2005). Social accountability in the public sector: A conceptual discussion. Washington, D.C: World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Ahmad, R. (2008). Governance, social accountability and the civil society. Journal of Administration & Governance, 3(1), 10–21.Google Scholar
  4. Ali, T., & Hossain, N. (2006). “Popular expectations of government: Findings from three areas in Bangladesh.” PRCPB working paper no. 13. Dhaka: BRAC.Google Scholar
  5. Apusigah, A. A. (2009). Promoting citizen government engagement for good governance in Ghana: the place of rights-based approaches. European Journal of Social Sciences, 11(4), 551–563.Google Scholar
  6. Azeem, V. (2006). Social accountability and poverty reduction in Ghana. Accra: ISODEC.Google Scholar
  7. Azfar, O. (2007). Disrupting corruption. In A. Shah (Ed.), Performance accountability and combating corruption (pp. 255–283). Washington D.C: World Bank.Google Scholar
  8. Behn, R. D. (2001). Rethinking democratic accountability. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  9. Blair, H. (2011). Gaining state support for social accountability. In S. O’dugbemi & T. Lee (Eds.), Accountability through public opinion: From inertia to public action (pp. 37–52). Washington DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blind, P.K. (2011). “Accountability in public service delivery: a multidisciplinary review of the concept.” Paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on Engaging Citizens to Enhance Public Sector Accountability and Prevent Corruption in the Delivery of Public Services. Vienna, Austria, 7–8 and 11–13 July 2011Google Scholar
  11. Centre for Good Governance and World Bank. (2005). Draft report of the orientation and methodology workshop for the application of social accountability mechanisms in community driven development and decentralization programs in South Asia. Hydarabad: Centre for Good Governance.Google Scholar
  12. Centre for Policy Dialogue (2004). “Poverty reduction strategy for Bangladesh: Views of civil society.” Available online at URL: Accessed 18 Aug 2011.
  13. Chondhoke, N. (2003). Governance and the Pluralization of the State: Implications for democratic citizenship. Economic and Political Weekly, 38(28), 2957–2968.Google Scholar
  14. Choudhury, Z. (2012). “Politics of intolerance and our future.” Available online at URL: Accessed 30 June 2012.
  15. Devine, J. (2006). NGOs, politics and grassroots mobilization: evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of South Asian Development, 1(1), 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Enrique, P. (2011a). “Public practices and institutions for enhancing public accountability and preventing corruption in the delivery of public services through the engagements of citizens.” A presentation prepared for the Workshop on Engaging Citizens to Enhance Public Sector Accountability in the Delivery of Public Services. Vienna, Austria, 11–13 July. Available online at URL: . Retrieved on 5 August 2011.
  17. Enrique, P. (2011b). The workings of accountability: Context and conditions. In S. O’dugbemi & T. Lee (Eds.), Accountability through public opinion: From inertia to public action (pp. 53–64). Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  18. Goetz, A. M., & Jenkins, R. (2001). Hybrid forms of accountability: citizen engagement in institutions of public sector oversight in India. Public Management Review, 3(3), 363–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Capital Development Fund. (2007). Project for the government of the people’s republic of Bangladesh project title : Local governance support project – learning and innovation component (LGSP-LIC). Dhaka: Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.Google Scholar
  20. Hassan, M., & Sarker, A. E. (2010). Civic engagement and public accountability: an analysis with particular reference to developing countries. Public Administration and Management, 15(2), 381–417.Google Scholar
  21. Heller, P., Harilal, K. N., & Chaudhuri, S. (2007). Building local democracy: evaluating the impact of decentralization in Kerala, India. World Development, 35(4), 626–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hossain, N. (2009a). “School exclusion as social exclusion: The practices and effects of a conditional cash transfer program for the poor in Bangladesh.” Working paper, no. 148. Sussex: IDS.Google Scholar
  23. Hossain, N. (2009b). “Rude accountability in the unreformed state: Informal pressures on frontline bureaucrats in Bangladesh”. Working paper 319. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  24. Iftekharuzzaman. (2009). “Implementing right to information in bangladesh: opportunities and challenges.” Key-note paper presented at the International Conference on “RTI Implementation: Law, Institutions and Citizens” organized by the RTI Forum, Dhaka, 21–22 June.Google Scholar
  25. Institute of Governance Studies (IGS). (2007). The state of governance in Bangladesh 2006: Expectations, commitments and challenges. Dhaka: IGS, BRAC University.Google Scholar
  26. Institute of Governance Studies (IGS). (2008). The state of governance in Bangladesh 2007: Confrontation, competition and accountability. Dhaka: IGS, BRAC University.Google Scholar
  27. Institute of Governance Studies (IGS). (2010). The state of governance in Bangladesh 2009: Entitlement, responsiveness and sustainability. Dhaka: IGS, BRAC University.Google Scholar
  28. Institute of Governance Studies (IGS). (2012). The state of governance in Bangladesh 2010–11: Policy, influence, and ownership. Dhaka: IGS, BRAC University.Google Scholar
  29. Jayal, N. G. (2008). New directions in theorizing social accountability. IDS Bulletin, 38(6), 105–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Joshi, A., & Houtzager, P. P. (2012). Widgets or watchdogs? Public Management Review, 14(2), 145–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kabeer, N., & Kabir, A. (2009). “Citizenship narratives in the absence of good governance: Voices of the working poor in Bangladesh”. Working paper 331. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  32. Kabeer, N., Kabir, A., & Huq, T. (2009). “Quantifying the impact of social mobilization in Rural Bangladesh: Donors, civil society and the road not taken”. Working paper 33. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  33. Kabeer, N., Mahmud, S., & Castro, J. (2010). “NGOs’ strategies and the challenge of development and democracy in Bangladesh”. Working paper 343. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  34. Kamruzzaman, P. (2007). “The PRSP of Bangladesh – ownership, participation and poverty reduction.” Available online at URL:
  35. Keohane, R. O., & Nye, J. S. (2000). Introduction. In J. S. Nye & J. D. Donahue (Eds.), Governance in a globalization world. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kim, P. S., Halligan, J., Cho, N., Oh, C. H., & Eikenberry, A. M. (2005). Special report: toward participatory and transparent governance: report on the sixth global forum on reinventing government. Public Administration Review, 65(6), 646–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Knox, C. (2009). Dealing with sectoral corruption in Bangladesh: developing citizen involvement. Public Administration and Development, 29, 117–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Malena, C. M., Forster, R., & Singh, J. (2004). Social accountability: An introduction to the concept and emerging practice. Washington, D.C: World Bank.Google Scholar
  39. McCourt, W. (2003). Political commitment to reform: civil service reform in Swaziland. World Development, 31(6), 1015–1031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ministry of Finance (MoF). (2009). Bangladesh economic review. Dhaka: MoF, Government of Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  41. Novy, A., & Leobolt, B. (2005). Participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre: a social innovation and the dialectical relationship of state and civil society. Urban Studies, 42(11), 2023–2036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Osborne, S. P., & McLaughlin, K. (2002). From public administration to public governance: public management and public services in the twenty-first century. In S. P. Osborne & K. McLaughlin (Eds.), Public management: Critical perspectives (Vol. 1, pp. 1–10). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Osman, F. A. (2010). Bangladesh politics: confrontation, monopoly and crisis in governance. Asian Journal of Political Science, 18(3), 310–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Peruzzotti, E., & Smulovitz, C. (2006). Social accountability: An introduction. In E. Peruzzotti & C. Smulovitz (Eds.), Enforcing the rule of law: Social accountability in the Ne Latin American Democracies. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press.Google Scholar
  45. Public Affairs Foundation, Sirker, K., & Cosic, S. (2007). Empowering the marginalized: Case studies of social accountability initiatives in Asia. Washington, DC: World Bank Institute.Google Scholar
  46. Rahman, M.H. (2006a). Institutional Mapping for Local Government Reform in Bangladesh. A report submitted to Bangladesh Democratic Local Governance Program (DLGP) [USAID/Dhaka sponsored Program]Google Scholar
  47. Rahman, S. (2006b). Development, democracy and the NGO sector: evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of Developing Societies, 22(4), 451–473.Google Scholar
  48. Sarker. (2011). Public accountability in quandary: the case of Bangladesh. Asian Profile, 39(3), 205–218.Google Scholar
  49. Sarker, A.E. (2012). “The political context of decentralization: reflections on South Asia.” Paper presented at the 16th IRSPM Conference held at Rome, 11–13 April.Google Scholar
  50. Sarker, A. E., & Rahman, M. H. (2007). The emerging perspective of governance and poverty alleviation: a case of Bangladesh. Public Organization Review: A Global Journal., 7(2), 93–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sobhan, R. (1998). “How bad governance impedes poverty alleviation in Bangladesh”. Working paper no. 143. Paris: OECD Development Centre.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. The Daily Star. (2006). Repeal official secrets act, ensure press freedom. Dhaka: The Daily Star.Google Scholar
  53. The Daily Star. (2011). “Good initiatives lost to bad instances”. Available online at URL: Accessed on 19 Aug.
  54. Thomas, T. & Rahman, M.H. (2011). Breaking the cycle of frustration: towards a new governance framework for Bangladesh, paper presented at the International Conference on “Governance in Bangladesh: retrospective and future prospects”, Institute of Governance Studies, BRAC University, Bangladesh and Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath, UK, Dhaka, 26–29 November, 2011.Google Scholar
  55. Transparency International Bangladesh. (2012). Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCC) – Youth Engagement and Support (YES). Dhaka: Transparency International Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  56. United Nations Development Program (UNDP). (2013). Human development report. New York: UNDP. Available online at URL: Retrieved on 17 February 2014.Google Scholar
  57. White, S. (1999). NGOs, civil society and the state in Bangladesh: the politics of representing the poor. Development and Change, 30, 307–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wood, J. (2000). Prisoners and escapees: improving the institutional responsibility square in Bangladesh. Journal of Public Administration and Development, 20, 221–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. World Bank. (2004). State-society synergy for accountability: Lessons for the World Bank. Washington, D.C: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. World Bank. (2008). Poverty assessment for Bangladesh: creating opportunities and bridging the east-of west divide. Dhaka: World Bank.Google Scholar
  61. World Bank. (2011). Supporting social accountability in the Middle East & North Africa. Washington D.C: World Bank.Google Scholar
  62. Wright, G., Noble, M., & Magasela, W. (2007). Towards a democratic definition of poverty. Socially perceived necessities in South Africa. Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council. Available online at URL: Retrieved on 17 February 2013.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, Marketing and Public AdministrationUniversity of SharjahSharjahUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Mohammed Bin Rashid School of GovernmentDubaiUnited Arab Emirates

Personalised recommendations