Objectives of the ESAP-3 program

The Ethiopia Social Accountability Program Phase 3 (ESAP-3), as part of the Enhancing Shared Prosperity through Equitable Services (ESPES) program, seeks to improve basic public service delivery of local governments in assisting to make services better attuned to the needs and priorities of citizens. 

The development objective of ESAP-3 is to support strengthening the Social Accountability (SA) system and mechanisms for enhanced service delivery in Ethiopia. The ultimate target is service improvement in the five identified basic sectors where SA is considered a critical means to intervene. The more specific objective of ESAP-3 is to enhance the dialogue and feedback loop between basic service users and service providers on the quality and accessibility of services. 

ESAP-3 is sub-divided into three separate components.  

Under ESAP’s revised strategy approved by the ESAP Steering Committee in December 2020, the activities under each component have been slightly amended. 

Components 1 and 2 represent social accountability activity implementation and capacity development activities related to the implementation, respectively.   Component 3 represents the management agency (MA) operations which ensure that program implementation is conducted effectively and in compliance with all applicable policies and rules and regulation. 

Component 1, the ESAP grants component, supports actual implementation of SA activities by ESAP partners in the woredas.  Under this component, IPs extend and expand the SA process and are expected to introduce innovative approaches. An increase in target woredas and kebeles where SA is introduced is envisaged.  This can materialize only when awareness about SA increases among citizens and government, and where they collaborate to produce joint action plans (JAPs) for service improvement that feed into local government plans, budgets and service delivery plans. Much is known on introducing SA to woredas and kebeles, but innovative approaches are needed.

Grants to SA implementing partners (IPs) remain the core of the program.  The new strategy requires a new partner mix, whereby strong current partners with the right capacity and motivation to implement SA activities remain under a new grants program, complemented by motivated and capable new partners that bring expertise to ESAP that is not currently available.  

The earlier distinction between regular ‘program’ and ‘innovation’ grants has been eliminated; we expect a degree of innovation and creativity from all partners.  A limited amount of funding can be reserved for innovation in the use of technology, and possibly some research. 

Component 2, i.e. the capacity development component, supports key SA actors to engage in enhancing service delivery and to embed SA in systems and institutions related to public service planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring. Knowledge management will be integrated with documentation of processes, impact and communication methodologies, as they critically support institutional development. 

This component covers program activities that are required to strengthen the implementation by ESAP grantees, mostly CSOs and community radio stations, as well as other types of partners.  The MA identified a need to invest substantially in capacity development across the partner network. Capacity development needs exist across all functional areas, involving management of ESAP clusters, financial and operational functions as well as contract compliance, program implementation, communication, gender, social inclusion and safeguarding, and, importantly, monitoring (and evaluation). 

CSOs affiliated with ESAP are not the object per se of capacity building, and rather function as the ESAP ‘instruments’ for implementation. Nevertheless, the MA recognizes the need for strengthening and maintaining CSO capacity to effectively implement and monitor program implementation. It also is the MA’s primary task to monitor the quality of program implementation and general compliance, thus using monitoring visits to ‘detect and redress’ gaps.   

The revised ESAP strategy requires an adaptation of the monitoring framework and plan in line with the outcomes (and intermediate outcomes) that form the core of a revised results framework. A rigorous monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system has been elaborated as part of the AWP 2021 and include a comprehensive capacity development plan for IPs in the area of MEL with a focus on monitoring.

The MA anticipates that newly joined partners require intensive preparation and ongoing training.  Much of this training will be conducted online, as we do not intend to organize meetings that bring large groups together in-person. Smaller in-person meetings may be necessary, always adhering to the necessary precautions to prevent and mitigate the risks of infection. 

The media are expected to play a significantly more prominent role as part of the new strategy implementation, and the MA envisions the need for expertise in the strategic use of

‘communications’ for SA.  We do not currently have this expertise available within the team.   

Online training likely requires, at times, the contracting of specialized agencies who can assist in designing these from a technical perspective.  This also would be covered under component 2.   

The MA reiterates the need to build an evidence base for its interventions.   

Component 3 covers the MA operations costs and serves to manage and coordinate program implementation.  

The MA’s role involves the monitoring on compliance, and any action required to prevent or redress cases of aid diversion (fraud, money laundering, corruption and bribery).  The MA has implemented additional measures to strengthen its zero tolerance with regard to such cases.  ESAP regional hubs were eliminated due to funding constraints that have prevented these hubs to become fully functional.