Latin American CSOs self-assess accountability practices…and aim to improve them

By December 16, 2019 News, Uncategorized

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have recently self-assessed their institutional accountability practices. These organizations are now preparing to implement changes in 2020, focusing on the areas identified as in greatest need of improvement.

 Between October 2018 and May 2019, the regional initiative Rendir Cuentas implemented in Latin American and the Caribbean different activities related to the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, a reference standard that that prioritizes a dynamic approach to accountability. Rendir Cuentas and its member organizations   aimed to advance in the institutionalization of the Global Standard, and to collect and systematize information about how the Global Standard can be used as a tool to promote dynamic accountability.

During this period, Rendir Cuentas, also developed two organizational self-assessment tools, whose  launch represents important milestones. On the one hand, the web based Rendir Cuentas App (app.rendircuentas.org),an agile self-assessment application has been already tested by nearly 100 CSOs from different regions of the world.

On the other hand, based on pilot tests, a comprehensive self-assessment questionnaire and its practical guide were implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean. Supported by Rendir Cuentas member organizations, 121 CSOs from Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay obtained their organizational diagnoses by using a self-assessment tool based on the Global Standard. In addition, 39 of these organizations identified actions to address the weaknesses and maximize the strengths detected. Based on the self-assessment, the organizations designed initial improvement plans.

This process has distilled several lessons learned. The implementation of the self-assessment tool implies a valuable exercise, but it also requires time and willingness, as well as a substantive follow-up so that the improvement plans agreed are taken into action. As a consequence, in the next phase in 2020,  Rendir Cuentas members seek to follow up and support CSOs in implementing improvement plans previously adopted.

One of the aspects that unveiled the greatest weakness was CSOs accountability to their primary constituents (which is indeed the essence of the Global Standard). The mechanisms for feedback loops and dynamic accountability were evaluated as very weak, there are several opportunities for strengthening various and specific Global Standard commitments..  For instance, commitment #11  (aimed at ensuring that our decisions are responsive to feedback from the people affected by our work, partners, volunteers and staff)  was identified as an aspect that requires most attention.

Moreover, the aspects related to responsibility towards a sustainable planet (commitment #3), the promotion of women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality (commitment 2) and the promotion of transparency and openness (commitment #8) were also recognized in several countries as critical and in need of improvements. The Global Standard’s commitments on alliances, staff and volunteering and responsible leadership (commitments #6, #9 and #12 respectively), were also identified as critical areas.

In this new phase, Rendir Cuentas members  are expected to take specific steps to provide follow-up and support to the organizations that self-assessed their practices in the previous  phase.

Supporting tools will be prepared to address the weaknesses identified, and organizations from Colombia, Perú, Argentina and Uruguay will receive different forms of technical assistance. Good practices will be shared, staff and team meetings will be held and customized trainings will be designed. A participatory methodology will include exchange meetings, and collecting and processing feedback.

More information will be soon available and made public. So, stay tuned to know more about the results of these important processes!

Uruguay – Self – assessment meetings

Argentina – Self – assessment meetings

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