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Case Study 4: Maharashtra, India: Improving Panchayat Service Delivery through Community Score Cards

By: J.V.R. Murty, Sanjay Agarwal, Parmesh Shah

Social accountability refers to a broad range of actions and mechanisms that citizens, communities, independent media, and civil society organizations use to hold public officials and public servants accountable. Social accountability tools include participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking, citizen report cards, community score cards, social audits, citizen charters, people’s estimates, and so forth.These mechanisms are being increasingly recognized world-wide as a means of enhancing democratic governance, improving service delivery, and creating empowerment.

The state of Maharashtra in western India adopted the three-tier Panchayati Raj model of democratic decentralization in 1961.Today it has 28,000 Gram Panchayats, 350 Panchayat Samitis, and 33 Zilla Parishads (ZPs) delivering a variety of services such as health, education, sanitation, and water supply to a rural population of 56 million.This note summarizes the experiences from a pilot project undertaken by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, in partnership with the World Bank-sponsored Jalswarajya Project. In the pilot the community score card (CSC) methodology was applied to assess the performance of 14 Gram Panchayats in Satara District in four service sectors, namely Village Panchayat Services, water and sanitation, health, and education.

The encouraging results from the pilot have led Satara Zilla Parishad to expand the pilot to 121 villages with the objective of achieving the Millennium Development Goals with regard to malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality.