The political economy of community scorecards

Research reports and studies
January 2012

This study examines a community scorecard initiative in Malawi, known as the Community Based Monitoring Programme (CBMP). The study was commissioned by Plan UK in response to a recent governance evaluation of the organisation’s work which recognised that Plan’s programmes had been more effective where they had worked with local political realities and supported local reform processes. As such, it does not attempt to provide a formal evaluation, but rather seeks to understand the political economy dynamics which have shaped this initiative and which can explain areas of success and challenge.

Two key strengths of the scorecards approach in Malawi emerge from the study:

  • Firstly, scorecards appear to work best where they facilitate collaborative spaces or forms of collective problem solving by actors across the supply and demand side. The provision of information is one part of this, but more important is the process for identifying who the key stakeholders are and bringing them together to devise joint action plans to tackle service delivery problems (and to follow up on these plans).
  • Secondly, scorecards have worked particularly well where they have reignited communities’ own capacity for self help alongside encouraging greater state responsiveness. While the current theory of change emphasises citizens’ empowerment vis-à-vis the state, what is interesting is the extent to which in practice the implementation of the scorecards has served as an important reminder of the roles and responsibilities of citizens themselves.