Social protection accountability (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1178)



What demand and supply side tools, mechanisms and approaches have been used to improve accountability in social assistance programmes, and what is the evidence of their impacts? Where accountability mechanisms have been built into social assistance programmes, what have their stated objectives been (i.e. improving quality of delivery, reducing fraud and corruption, empowerment, or others)?

Key findings

Accountability and good governance are strong themes of development interventions in general, but have yet to be applied systematically to social protection programmes. This rapid literature review collates evidence on the use of accountability mechanisms in social assistance programmes.

Social assistance accountability mechanisms usually focus on two main areas: (i) the flow of information and (ii) the flow of funds (Bassett et al., 2012). Most programmes have implemented a series of audits, spot checks, grievance redress mechanisms and other good governance principles. There is also a broader understanding of accountability as providing social justice and empowerment to citizens, but there is much less discussion and evidence on this in relation to social protection programmes.

In general, much of the literature is focused on best practice, lessons learned, the theory and principles of accountability, and policy guidance. There is little systematic evidence on whether accountability mechanisms have improved programmes or had effects on human development outcomes.


Browne, E. Social protection accountability (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1178). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 12 pp.

Social protection accountability (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1178)

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