Citizen-Led Accountability: Strategies and Tools

Citizen-Led Accountability: Strategies and Tools

Citizen-Led Accountability: Strategies and Tools

November 2 – December 18, 2020
Applications for this program are closed.

Online Delivery 

Citizens have the right and responsibility to hold state actors and other power holders (e.g., corporations, NGOs) accountable for decisions and actions that affect their lives. Indeed, the participation of active citizens is key to ensuring good governance, which directly affects people on a daily basis (i.e., by influencing access to health care, education, housing, water and sanitation, roads, and job opportunities), and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a powerful reminder of the critical importance of transparent, accountable, and responsive governance to ensure the basic needs and well-being of communities are met, and that systemic injustices are not further entrenched.   

Yet, around the world, many governance systems lack accountability, leading to problems of poor-quality public services, mismanagement of resources, corruption, waste, and social injustice. At a time when many countries are experiencing democratic backsliding, shrinking civic space, and persistent gender inequality – in many cases exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – many citizens feel powerless to voice their opinions and concerns, let alone to influence government decisions, push for improved responsiveness, demand accountability, and effect meaningful change.  

Citizen-led accountability – or “social accountability” – refers to a range of approaches and mechanisms that enable citizens (including those who are often excluded) to do just that: to work with governments in a meaningful, productive, and effective way in pursuit of increased transparency, citizen voice, improved governance systems, and ultimately, a culture of accountability leading to positive changes in people’s lives. 

This online Certificate program will help equip you to understand the underlying principles of citizen-led accountability, and craft context-appropriate proposals to build accountability into your work. Through case studies from around the world and intentional peer learning, you will learn innovative practices to engage citizens, monitor government actions, seek accountability, prevent corruption, and improve essential public services. You will also learn to design inclusive pro-accountability strategies and bridge conceptual learning with practical applications in your own work to foster a culture of accountability in your organizations and societies. 

Benefits and Learning Objectives 

By the end of the course, you will be able to: 

  •  explain the fundamental principles of citizen-led accountability, its role in good governance, why it is important, and the potential benefits it can bring;  
  • identify the characteristics of an enabling environment for citizen-led accountability, and explore strategies for creating/nurturing enabling conditions; 
  • describe a range of citizen-led accountability practices and tools (such as participatory planning, gender budgeting, participatory budgeting, social audit, community scorecard, and citizen report card); 
  • apply an inclusion lens (e.g. accounting for factors of power, gender, and intersectionality) in your analysis of governance and planning for citizen-led accountability; 
  • apply strategic thinking to develop a proposal for citizen-led accountability adapted to your own context; and, 
  • reflect strategically on how to maximize the impact of citizen-led accountability approaches in order to successfully negotiate change and achieve concrete improvements (such as enhanced quality and accessibility of public services). 

Time Requirements 

You should prepare to dedicate eight hours per week (approximately), over the course of seven weeks. 

 Technology Requirements 

  • Reliable internet access (high speed is recommended) 
  • Speakers and microphone 

Who should take this course? 

This certificate course is designed for practitioners from civil society organizations and social movements, as well as staff from government, development agencies, or the private sector, who are engaged in governance, public services, human rights, advocacy, and/or accountability work. Applicants should be open to sharing their knowledge and skills, and motivated to apply their learning in their own work. 


The tuition fee for this course is $650 CAD. Coady strives to ensure that individuals working with marginalized communities locally and globally have access to its educational programs. This is made possible through the provision of bursaries that are generously funded by both individual and institutional donors.  Bursaries of $300 are available for select candidates applying for online courses. Those receiving a bursary will be responsible for paying the balance of $350 CAD before the designated deadline.


Coady International Institute does not accept third party applications. Individuals need to submit their application via Coady’s website and should use caution when approached by those offering services to complete the application and admissions process.