Author: Anu Pekkonen, CIVICUS
The Community Score Card ( CSC) process, sometimes also known as a
community voice card is a community based monitoring tool that enables
citizens to voice their assessment of a priority public service. The
CSC is an instrument to elicit social and public accountability and
increase the responsiveness of service providers.
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What is it?
The Community Score Card ( CSC) is a participatory, community based
monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the
quality of public services such as a health centre, school, public
transport, water, waste disposal system and so on. It is used to inform
community members about available services and their entitlements and
to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of these
services. By providing an opportunity for direct dialogue between
service providers and the community, the CSC process empowers the
public to voice their opinion and demand improved service delivery.
How is it done?
Key steps in implementing a CSC are:
1. Preparatory groundwork and research:
- Identify the subject and scope of the assessment (e.g. health provision for pregnant women in a specific district).
- Carry out preliminary research regarding current inputs, entitlements, degree of usage etc.
Identify people or groups within the sample area who can help to
facilitate the implementation of the CSC process, such as traditional
leaders, NGO staff, and officials of local governments.
- Conduct an awareness campaign to inform people about the purpose and benefits of the CSC.
- Train facilitators.
2. Help community members generate a scorecard
- Convene community members into one or more focus groups.
- Ask each group to identify performance/quality indicators for the public service in question.
- Ask the group to score each indicator and give reasons for the scores.
Ask the group to develop their own suggestions on how to improve the
service, based on the performance criteria they have identified.
A Sample Community Score Card for a Health Centre
|| Indicators (in order of importance)
|| Score out of
|| Scores after 12 months
||Attitude of staff
||Affordability of services
||Availability of medicine
||Distance to health centre
||Equal access to the health services for all community members
3. Help service providers to generate a self-evaluation score card
Hold a brainstorming session with service providers including the
management and the staff to develop self-evaluation indicators.
- Ask the service providers to score each indicator and give reasons for the scores.
- Invite service providers to discuss and propose possible solutions.
4. Convene an interface meeting between community and service provider
- Aided by the facilitators, each focus group presents its scores.
- Reasons for scores are discussed.
- Service providers react and give feedback.
- All participants discuss and potentially agree possible solutions.
5. Advocacy and follow-up
- Document the process and record score card results in a brief, clear and easily understandable format.
- Disseminate results through the media and communities.
- Feed score card results into other policy and advocacy processes.
- Ensure the implementation and follow-up of the solutions.
Take steps to institutionalise the process like for example by
supporting community-based organisations and/or service providers to
repeat the exercise on an annual or half yearly basis.
- Relatively easy to use and flexible in application.
- Strengthens citizen voice and community empowerment.
- Promotes dialogue and consensus building as well as information gathering.
- Establishes mechanisms of direct feedback between users and service providers.
Enhances confidence in the service provider particularly when the score
is high and/or solutions to identified problems are implemented
- Builds local capacity to hold public sector accountable and to engage effectively in public deliberations on priority issues.
Generates performance criteria for benchmarking the quality of services
that can subsequently be used by community members or the government
for ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
Challenges and Lessons
- Service providers and policy makers may feel threatened by
the CSC initiative. It is therefore important to engage them from the
very beginning and sensitizing them to the values and practical
benefits of people’s participation in service delivery assessment. It
can also be useful to invite service providers and/or local officials
to participate in training workshops and learning sessions about the
- It is not guaranteed that service
providers/government officials will be receptive to the problems
identified by ‘common’ people and their suggestions for change. Some
strategies for mitigating this problem are to: highlight both strengths
and weaknesses emerging from score card findings; prepare adequately
and facilitate effectively to ensure that interface meetings are rather
constructive than confrontational; and focus not only on problems but
also on solutions and proposals.
- Service providers at
local level do not always have the capacity or leverage to make
decisions or implement change. It is therefore important that senior
officials and decision makers are also involved in feed back loop and
- It is important to help community members
develop an understanding of the constraints faced by service providers,
so as to avoid creating unrealistically high expectations.
There is a risk that the CSC process could result in disillusionment on
the part of community members and service providers if proposed
solutions are not implemented or if subsequent assessments do not find
any positive change.
- The effective implementation of a
CSC requires a combination of: an understanding of the local
socio-political governance context; a technically competent
intermediary to facilitate the process; a strong public awareness and
information dissemination campaign to ensure effective community
participation; participation/buy-in of the service provider;, and
coordinated follow up.
Bosnia and Herzegovina : Social Accountability Capacity Building
Program-Social Audit of local governance. Qualitative Research, Version
3. Prism Research (2006)
Community Score Cards are typically used to assess a
specific public service. Whereas under the Social Accountability
Capacity Building Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the report
describes, the CSC methodology was used to evaluate and compare four
City Government of Johannesburg, South Africa: City Score Cards (2006)
Community score cards have most been used in rural
areas, since the process relies on the use of a clearly demarcated
cluster of people, i.e. ‘community’, as the unit of analysis. However,
this web link provided information on application of CSC methodology by
the city government of Johannesburg in South Africa to generate citizen
driven City Score Cards.
CSC of rural health centres in Malawi
was the first to use CSCs to assess rural health centres. The central
objective of the project was to improve the provision of health
services to the rural poor through the empowerment of user communities.
Evidence shows significant improvement attributable to the
implementation of the CSC process.
CSC in Gambia for monitoring the effectiveness of poverty reduction stretagy
Community Score Cards have been used in Gambia to monitor the
effectiveness of the national poverty reduction strategy The CSC
process was carried out in two priority sectors – health which received
an overall satisfaction rating of less than 30 % and education where
teachers received more than 70% approval ratings in all regions but
school facilities received only 40% approval ratings. Both processes
created awareness of the situation, promoted better understanding of
the strengths and weaknesses of the service providers and ultimately
empowered the community to give more input into local-level service
For more information visit: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPCENG/Resources/CSC+Gambia.pdf
Improving health services through CSCs in Andhra Pradesh, India
The Center of Good Governance, Hyderabad, in partnership with the
World Bank-sponsored Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Project
(APRPRP), undertook a pilot project in March 2006 which the community
score card (CSC) was applied to assess the performance of two primary
health centers (PHCs) in two Mandals of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra
Pradesh, in the context of primary health care service delivery. The
CSC brought about the he disparity between community evaluation and
self evaluation of staff on a number of parameters such as staff
behavior, medicine dispensing, quality of infrastructure, availability
of medical staff etc.
The encouraging results from the pilot have led the Society for
Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), the APRPRP Project Management
Unit, to scale up the CSC to all health Mandals. Proactive community
participation in health activities has enabled SERP to introduce
several other community-managed health interventions, most of which
have been now institutionalized through the issuance of operational
guidelines by the Health Department of the Government of Andhra
For more information visit: http://www.sasanet.org/documents/Newreport/AP/Case1_Andhra%20Pradesh_SAc_CSC%20Health_August%202007.pdf
CSC on primary education services in Ghana
The CSC process was used in the Information Flow, Accountability
and Transparency (INFAT) project, managed by the Northern Ghana Network
and three of its member organizations with financial assistance from
the Commonwealth Education Fund. The project assisted citizens from
sixteen communities across two districts in Northern Ghana to assess
the performance of the primary school(s) in their communities and to
express their concerns to the service providers (teachers, headmasters,
and Ghana Education Service personnel) and to other stakeholders
(especially district assemblies).
For more information visit: http://openurl.ingenta.com/content?genre=article&issn=1357-938X&volume=56&issue=1&spage=21&epage=27