Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Marcel I. Kitissou


AbstractAccountability is an important concept in public administration and across multiple sectors. NGOs work towards achieving their social purpose and yet, they are perceived to be accountable only to their donors but not to citizens. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore perspectives of citizens in three districts: Bongo, Wa, and Sagnarigu in Northern Ghana on how NGOs demonstrate accountability in fulfilling their commitments in drinking water provision. It specifically investigated the lived experiences of citizens: local government authorities, traditional authorities, and individual citizens from the districts. Research literature emphasized upward accountability resulting in a gap observed in downward accountability with a dearth of literature on understanding the phenomenon from citizens' perspective. The conceptual framework builds on tenets of the accountability theory by Lerner and Tetlock. The main research question examined citizens' perspectives about the accountability of NGOs in the provision of drinking water to communities. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 20 participants across three regions in Ghana. A blend of the accountability theory and the conceptual framework provided a basis for analysis. Key findings confirmed that even though NGOs involved citizens in decision-making, this was tokenism. Also, NGOs did not only fail to demonstrate financial transparency and accountability to citizens, they also failed to comply with national regulations required for their operations. Findings indicated that NGOs need to prioritize downward accountability to citizens over upward accountability to donors. The implication for positive social change outcomes will involve citizens championing their own development and using their voices to demand accountability from all service providers, especially NGOs.