The SAM in MobiSAM

By Professor Hannah Thinyane: Co-Director

For those who have always wondered what the name of our project means, it refers to two equally important parts: mobi, and SAM.  ‘Mobi’ is obvious – it refers to our use of technology (in particular mobile phones); and ‘SAM’ – social accountability monitoring.  This part is a bit more complicated and what I will be discussing in this post.

Social accountability is a process where citizens and civil societies work together to put pressure on government to meet their obligations to deliver quality services.   Social accountability monitoring therefore is a process to monitor how services are being delivered.  What immediately springs to mind is negative connotations of such monitoring, but it can also be a tool to show how well government is performing, as well as to help government with long term planning, to ensure it is responsive to citizens’ needs.

There are a number of different techniques that can be used to perform social accountability monitoring, but the one that we use in MobiSAM is based on community monitoring of public service delivery.  By using MobiSAM to report problems, we generate a log of service delivery problems.  This log provides details of the kinds of service problems, how quickly they were responded to, the location of the problems, and the frequency that the problems occurred.  As MobiSAM users, we all have access to some of the data that was reported (for privacy reasons, we do not provide details of who reported what problem, or exact locations of reports).  The hope is that citizens can use this information as a base of evidence for further engagement with local government.

Part of the MobiSAM project is to provide basic information to citizens on how they can participate in local government.  For those who would like more information on the social accountability monitoring methodology that our work is based on, we have developed a guide that can be used to learn about monitoring local government.  For even more details,  Public Service Accountability Monitor, part of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, hold training sessions on this methodology, in the form of a SAQA accredited course.

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