Experiences with social accountability measures in water management schemes in Nepal and Ethiopia offer useful lessons for practitioners. Participation and transparency in budgeting measures open up new spaces for deliberation, raise awareness of rights, and encourage calling service providers to account. Donors should recognise and appreciate this development of deliberative capacities and trust building as a worthwhile goal in itself. It is also an important precondition for strengthening the links between transparency, accountability, participation, and anti-corruption.