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Beyond the Short versus Long Accountability Route Dichotomy: Using Multi-track Accountability Pathways to Study Performance of Rural Water Services in Uganda


  • Dewachter, Sara
  • Holvoet, Nathalie
  • Kuppens, Miet
  • Molenaers, Nadia


Performance of social service delivery is often linked with effective accountability. Accountability studies increasingly acknowledge that studying one type of accountability relation at a time is too restrictive. Our study aims to correct for this and explores the effectiveness of combinations of different accountability mechanisms. We take the World Development Report’s accountability triangle as a starting point and adapt it in three ways. First, we refine the long route to accountability into three tracks by differentiating between the three groups of demand side actors; political accountability (opposition), citizen-led, and civil-society-led social accountability. Second, for each track we take into account the demand and supply side and the availability of supply–demand interfaces. Finally, we adopt a holistic approach through the simultaneous incorporation of both the short and long (with the different tracks) routes. To test its usefulness, we use our refined accountability framework to study the accountability constellations and their link to performance in Uganda’s rural water sector. Building on QCA, our findings identify the long three track route (supply—interface—all three demand actors) and the citizen-led social accountability route as viable routes to high water service performance in Ugandan districts. Additionally, a set of new hybrid accountability arrangements are identified while—contrary to theoretical assumptions—the short route (clients to service providers) does not prove effective.

Suggested Citation

  • Dewachter, Sara & Holvoet, Nathalie & Kuppens, Miet & Molenaers, Nadia, 2018. "Beyond the Short versus Long Accountability Route Dichotomy: Using Multi-track Accountability Pathways to Study Performance of Rural Water Services in Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 158-169.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:158-169
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.09.018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Collins & Pan Suk Kim & Frederick Golooba‐Mutebi, 2012. "In Search Of The Right Formula: Public, Private And Community‐Driven Provision Of Safe Water In Rwanda And Uganda," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4-5), pages 430-443, October.
    2. Gershberg, Alec Ian & González, Pablo Alberto & Meade, Ben, 2012. "Understanding and Improving Accountability in Education: A Conceptual Framework and Guideposts from Three Decentralization Reform Experiences in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 1024-1041.
    3. Gaventa, John & Barrett, Gregory, 2012. "Mapping the Outcomes of Citizen Engagement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(12), pages 2399-2410.
    4. Francis, Paul & James, Robert, 2003. "Balancing Rural Poverty Reduction and Citizen Participation: The Contradictions of Uganda's Decentralization Program," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 325-337, February.
    5. repec:eee:wdevel:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:160-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Martina Björkman & Jakob Svensson, 2009. "Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 735-769.
    7. Shantayanan Devarajan & Stuti Khemani & Michael Walton, 2014. "Can Civil Society Overcome Government Failure in Africa?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 20-47.
    8. Ragin, Charles C., 2006. "Set Relations in Social Research: Evaluating Their Consistency and Coverage," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(03), pages 291-310, June.
    9. Batley, Richard & Mcloughlin, Claire, 2015. "The Politics of Public Services: A Service Characteristics Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 275-285.
    10. Bakker, Karen & Kooy, Michelle & Shofiani, Nur Endah & Martijn, Ernst-Jan, 2008. "Governance Failure: Rethinking the Institutional Dimensions of Urban Water Supply to Poor Households," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1891-1915, October.
    11. Fox, Jonathan A., 2015. "Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 346-361.
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