Community Score Card (CSC) is a two-way and on-going participatory tool for assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of services. The tool brings together the“service user” and the “service provider” of a particular service or program to jointly analyse issues underlying service delivery problems and find a common and shared way of addressing those issues. With the country adjusting to the participation and active involvement on revenue expenditure for access to quality service delivery, assessing the level of community’s voice on thus is very important.
Chamwino and Singida Districts are both rural areas where, especially women, farmers and children are still living in poverty, and face injustices to human rights caused by structural imbalance of powers enshrined in the cultural and traditional values.
Participation and active involvement of women on issues affecting them at household and community level is usually compromised due to these injustices. Also with the high impact from the climate change, greater yield of harvest cannot be realised meaning the cycle of poverty continues. It was from this background that the community through the community score card sought to verify the quality of public service delivery against the national and locally generated revenue to benefit the communities.
In this case, AATZ through Public Financing for Agriculture project capacitated communities in the two districts to lead the community score card on service delivery particularly in agriculture sector.
For each district 7 wards and 2 villages per ward were sampled to participate in process. In undertaking the exercise in each village participants worked in two groups of service providers(village and ward leaders) and service receivers(community members).
Before assessment members in each group set and agreed on criterias by which each service will be judged.Key issues for the assesment were, participation of citizens on agricuture budget,accountability and transparency of community leaders,extension services,agriculture inputs,access and ownership to land and climate change.
Low ratings were noted in the areas of access to agriculture finance as most small holder farmers are women with no collateral and ownership to land making it difficult to take a loan from the financial institutions. In Singida, one of the small holder farmers confirmed that men had access and control over land and women had nothing to do about it.”We are aware and accept that land belongs to men, we can only till and harvest but ownership,marketing and pricing of farm produce is men’s inherent thing”.commented one of community member.
This is a sign of cultural and traditional injustice which needs the intervention of the local leaders to ensure ownership access and control to natural resources benefits all community members.
In the ratings, there were however very noticeable positive changes in the areas of increase of women’s participation and active involvement in the agriculture budget, increase in communities knowledge and capacity to understand and question revenue expenditure reports.
It was attention-grabbing seeing the community scored card team leading the process of engaging the ward and village executive committee members, ward councillors, agriculture extension officers, small holder farmers as well as ward development officers in verifying and scoring performance, accessibility, transparency and accountability on issues raised on the score card.
At the end of the day, it was all smiles as it was clear that the community had lead, owned the process and knowledgeable on community development process, but best of all being able to make leaders accountable to quality public service delivery for all.
Although there is still a milestone to achieve in the quality public services, communities and the leaders acknowledge concerted efforts can help curb low ratings on government’s mandate on subsidising farm inputs, improve quality of extension services including allocation of extension workers versus regulated population allocation per village.
“The process has opened our minds,reminded us our responsibilities and gave us chance to interact closely with our people about our services”said Patrick Stanley, Chairperson Mlodaa village.”
In as much as there were low ratings noted, that did not deter the spirits of all the 515 community members representing fourteen wards and sixteen villages in Singida and Dodoma, to them it was a welcome move that opened their eyes for more engagement with community leaders to demand quality public service.