Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on August 15, 2013
It was a sunny, hot Saturday afternoon and I mingled with farmers, community leaders, coffee producers and handicrafts entrepreneurs who had traveled from all parts of Bolivia to gather at the main square of Cliza, a rural town outside of Cochabamba. The place was packed and a sense of excitement and high expectations was unfolding. It was to be anything but an ordinary market day.
Thousands of people had been selected from more than 700 rural communities to showcase their products and they were waiting for a special moment. President Evo Morales, Nemesia Achocallo, Minister for Rural Development, Viviana Caro, Minister for Development Planning, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, on his first official visit to Bolivia, would soon be meeting them.
While waiting among them, I felt their excitement, listened to their life stories and was humbled by the high expectations they had in their government, their leaders and the international community to support them in reaching their aspirations for a better future for their families and communities. From many I heard the need to improve the well-being of their families and communities and their goal of “Vivir Bien!”
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2013
Our Top Ten Blog Posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on January 24, 2013
It will soon be nearly four years since then San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom visited Twitter headquarters. He told Biz Stone (one of the Twitter founders) about how someone from the city had sent him a Twitter message about a pothole. A discussion about "how we can get Twitter to be involved in advancing, streamlining, and supporting the governance of cities," led to the creation of @SF311 on Twitter that would allow live reporting by citizens of service needs, feedback, and other communication. Perhaps the most innovative aspect at that time was that citizens would be able to communicate directly and transparently with the Government. San Francisco was the first US city to roll out a major service such as this on Twitter.
Twitter offers several advantages over phonecalls or written requests made by citizens, some of which I have mentioned before:
There’s been a lot of talk about beneficiary feedback – a fancy term for asking people impacted by aid projects what they think. But we've been playing catch up when it comes to analyzing where and how we’re using these techniques – and whether they’re working. Until now.
A new World Bank paper looks at one particular tool for collecting real-time feedback – Grievance Redress Mechanisms – and starts to answer these basic questions: Where are they? Do they work? How will they help? For the first time, we now have data available on the distribution, quality and impact of grievance redress mechanisms (GRMs) in the Bank's portfolio. Beyond just the quantitative data, there are 23 in-depth case studies of GRMs in operations - highlighting both disputes resolved and challenges faced. Focusing on what works and why, this report provides World Bank staff and clients with concrete data to support their work to improve GRM implementation and results.
For example, did you know...
- Half of all World Bank-supported projects now include a GRM in project design?
- GRM usage is still predominantly tied to triggering one or both of the World Bank safeguards policies that require a GRM?
- The World Bank’s Africa region has the most higher-risk projects and the Middle East/North Africa region (MENA) has the fewest, but 70 percent of Africa's higher-risk projects have a GRM compared with only 22 percent in MENA?
- GRMs exist on paper but not always in practice: less than one-third of the Bank-supported projects sampled could provide data on grievances received or resolved.
The report makes five simple recommendations for things that the World Bank can do better:
Eighteen months ago we watched President Kibaki launch the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) to broad acclaim and fanfare. All our initial expectations were very high. Some expected that Kenya’s vibrant ICT community would rapidly embrace open data, that there would be a rapid outpouring of open data sets from government agencies, and that open data would drive more informed development decision making.
However, although Kenya has a strong ICT sector, skilled development professionals, high cell phone penetration, a relatively open media and active CSOs, open data uptake has not been as rapid as some expected. Traffic to Kenya’s open data portal has been consistent, with the Government’s portal generating around 100,000 page views a month, mostly from Kenya. The number of datasets on the portal has doubled from the initial 200 to more than 400 today, but still represents a tiny fraction of the data in Kenya.
So even in a country like Kenya with a dynamic ICT sector, simply making data available is only one step in a longer process.
For 21 years, Fundación Tzedaká, who won an award at the 2010 Latin America Development Marketplace, has been developing social programs and actions to improve the living conditions of citizens who live in poverty in Argentina. Based on a model that works in partnerships, and with a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, they develop programs in areas such as health, education, housing, job training, food, seniors and children, taking family as the focal point of intervention. Transparency, efficient management of resources and consistent accountability are the organization’s pillars.
Some of their programs have been recognized for their contribution to society, as is the case of "Refuot", the largest Community Medicine Bank in the country and “Accion Joven”; a training program that helps young adults improve their development and employment performance and the program which won the LAC DM award. Over 750 young adults have been trained for different positions with a high opportunity rate in the job scenarios.
A recent Poverty Matters blog post in the Guardian noted that mobile technologies and social media are creating cheap ways for citizens to interact with their governments and that development projects are trying to tap into these technologies. It gave a plug to the Bank’s new Open Finances mobile app that lets users find and monitor bank-funded projects near where they live, using mapping and GPS technology.
With the advent of the New Year and given the on-going work in the Bank on the open agenda, here are three things we may accomplish in 2013:
The review process for this How-to Note has ended. The paper has been downloaded 47 times and we received 5 comments.
We are grateful to the many reviewers for their valuable comments. The author will carefully review and consider all comments when finalizing the note. The final version of the How-To Note will be published on the Open Development Technology Alliance website and announced in the World Bank blog forum.
Deliberations around public budgets can sometimes bring out the worst in parliamentarians but impassioned responses rarely come from citizens themselves. Perhaps it is because budgets come in the form of tomes, with tables upon tables of data and very little context. Even though those tables reflect social services and entitlements that impact us all, simply disclosing this information does not necessarily mean that these documents will be understood or the resources well spent.
The Budget Transparency Initiative (BTI), led by the World Bank’s Social Development Department and funded by the Governance Partnership Facility, has introduced a methodology to disclose, simplify, and analyze budgets at various levels to not only bring this information closer to citizens but also create enabling spaces for them to provide feedback.
There has been a lot of buzz lately around open development, and new initiatives seem to be popping up everywhere. My colleague Maya talks about what open development means exactly in her blog and Soren Gigler discusses openness for whom and what. Soren points out that “openness and improved accountability for better results are key concepts of the Openness agenda.” However, he cautions that openness is not a one-way street. For positive impact, citizen engagement is crucial and it’s important to “close the feedback-loop” through the facilitation of information flows between citizens, governments, and donors.
In light of this, a prime example of a successful initiative with an innovative citizen-feedback mechanism is “Check My School” (CMS) in the Philippines. Launched by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) just a little over a year ago, it has managed to get real results on the ground. The results and lessons learned were shared at an event held last week at the World Bank. The speaker was Dondon Parafina, ANSA-EAP’s Network Coordinator.