RE: Neutrality-impartiality-independence. At which stage of the evaluation is each concept important?   | Eval Forward

Accountability is much more than reporting on a work plan (which is, unfortunately, how it is often portrayed).

Accountability means that we make explicit or implicit promises to other people and groups (in the case of development / humanitarian projects, to MANY other people with different perspectives and priorities) .We are responsible to account for these promises. That means: to make the promises happen - when possible and useful...  but also to change, improve, evolve our promises as needed, *always respecting the bond underpinning these promises*. What matters for accountability is the *relation*.

Things, conditions can change. But people are accountable to each other when they keep each other informed of changes, and when they set up strong processes for negotiating the way forward for keeping the promise alive and relevant. And possibly, to improve it.

If you have this view of accountability, learning is clearly part of it.

Learning is what improves the promise, and what improves the trust needed to negotiate promises and conditions of accountability.

Of course we always need to remember that this happens in messy situations, and we are often accountable, as mentioned, to diverse people, with different interests. We might be accountable to many people. But what does accountability really matter to us? The interests of the donors are not always, for example, the interests of the marginalized people we are supposed to serve... or the interests of future generations...

When we stick to accountability as "sticking to results" we are missing the point.

And often, rather than accountability, we have bureaucratic control.

To get back to the question that started the debate, accountability itself is not a neutral word.

Who we chose to be accountable to has deep consequences on how we act and look at change.

It is really important to be aware of it, rather than thinking that a larger sample will solve the issue.

And even the humanitarian discourse is becoming aware of this and reframing the understanding of neutrality...