Using advocacy and data to strengthen political accountability in Africa

This paper explores how global and regional initiatives have been used to create accountability for maternal and newborn health. Examples from five countries where MamaYe - Evidence for Action (E4A) has been implemented illustrate how these initiatives have influenced responses at the national level.

In this second paper in a series on accountability, the three initiatives considered in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Malawi and Ghana are:

  • the Commission on Information and Accountability (CoIA) for Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5
  • the Abuja Declaration
  • the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction in Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

Key points:

The authors highlight following components for successful political accountability mechanisms:

  • Global commitments have no value without real country level action to build accountability into national processes.
  • A combined evidence, advocacy, and accountability approach is required to increase government ownership in meeting commitments.
  • Strong data collection, analysis and presentation mechanisms are required to track progress. Data presented in user-friendly formats, such as scorecards adapted for the audience, can encourage buy-in and help stakeholders to track performance and identify gaps. 
  • A range of stakeholders including civil society should play a central role in advocacy and social accountability.
  • Involvement of local or national champions may help increase public and stakeholder attention to government performance. 
  • Strong implementation mechanisms, funding and tracking of progress is required from the start.


The authors conclude that although accountability is high on the international agenda, lessons learned from the MDGs and other global initiatives highlight that how countries implement targets and accountability mechanisms are as important as the commitments themselves.  To ensure continued momentum, accountability mechanisms need effective monitoring and coordination, and appropriate consequences for non-performance.

ten Hoope-Bender, P., Martin Hilber, A., Nove, A., Bandali, S., Nam, S., Armstrong, C., Ahmed, A.M., Chatuluka, M.G., Magoma, M. & Hulton, L. (2016). Using advocacy and data to strengthen political accountability in maternal and newborn health in Africa. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 135: 358-364.