Improving Access to Public Services
and Promoting Social Accountability

Access to quality, affordable public services such as education and health is a crucial element in poverty alleviation and supports the development of people’s capabilities and choices. Achieving equitable and sustainable development is also underpinned by an active and engaged community.

In Vietnam, the policy of socialization has promoted greater involvement of the wider community in the provision of education and health services. This has led to households financing a larger proportion of education and health costs. Due to the decentralization of financing, public service expenditure varies across different provinces in Vietnam and people in rural geographic locations and ethnic minority groups experience poorer access to public services than people living in urban areas or those from the Kinh/Hoa majority. 

In Vietnam, there is a lack of established processes to allow citizens to engage with, and participate in, government decision making. Additionally, improved monitoring and evaluation are crucial to support evidence informed policy making. The use of social accountability tools aim to address the issue of people having limited or inequitable access to affordable public services through:

  • Engaging citizens directly via information gathering techniques such as surveys and evaluation report cards to receive feedback on how public services delivery
  • Improving the quality of information received by government that is used for policy making.

AFAP will design and implement social accountability tools that collect information from citizens and the government on the delivery of public services. AFAP aims to build capability and capacity among civil society organizations and government partners in the design and use of social accountability tools in Vietnam through education, training, information exchange and dissemination. AFAP also intends to collaborate with different groups involved in social accountability in Vietnam to build a voice of greater legitimacy and influence and engage in dialogue with stakeholders at a government, national and multi-lateral level.

To improve access to public services and promote social accountability, AFAP will focus on the following activities:

  • Complete reviews and participatory action research in the key geographic regions in which AFAP have a long term, collaborative relationship using social accountability tools to gain information on the impacts of the government of Viet Nam’s socialization policy, particularly the policy’s impact on the poor
  • Disseminate information and provide opportunities for information exchange on social accountability (including the work of AFAP) through the development of a resource centre for local, national and international collaborators, and to beneficiaries in the regions in which AFAP works.

 Case Study 

AFAP has been working with communities in Hoa Binh and Ha Tinh provinces to assess the impact of new programs introduced as part of the Viet Nam government’s socialization policy (Decree 49). This work has been funded by USAID Building Bridges for Better Spending in South East Asia Program. Surveys were conducted with local people to gather their feedback on the quality, accessibility, responsiveness and overall satisfaction with selected education services for lower secondary students. Local people were involved in all aspects of this process including survey development, conducting interviews, data analysis and sharing workshops at which findings were discussed in a public forum.

The research indicated a number of inefficiencies in the process of providing support payments to poor households to support school expenses and indicated that about 40% of respondents were not satisfied with the current system of contribution payments from households to schools. When these findings were shared in local communities, local authorities made a strong commitment to improving processes for education support payments. This participatory process has supported improvements to the delivery of education services as well as increased engagement by citizens into how public services are delivered, a model which AFAP hopes to build on in other communities and with other types of public services. 

Interview for Public Expenditure Tracking Survey study in Da Bac District, Hoa Binh Province
Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty