There is no doubt that governance can be complicated. It has been subject to extensive analysis and explanation by a variety of experts, with a corresponding variety of definitions. Competing philosophies are based on not only assumptions about the intersection of economic and political management, but also the relevance of institutions to development outcomes. Measurement of such complex concept can be an awkward tool in the midst of such ambiguity.
Good institutions matter for development. Institutions enable societies to address challenges – from managing irrigation and schools systems, to raising and spending revenues. In the terms of Nobel Prize laureate Elinor Ostrom, the right institutions enable effective collective action, while poor or missing institutions hinder problem-solving.
A while back I was working for a small education foundation in Bangalore. Every day I took the bus to the office along a road that had so many pot holes it felt like the driver had decided to take a short cut across the surface of the moon. About a month before I left the whole stretch was covered by a smooth layer of gleaming tarmac and a series of huge posters appeared – announcing the hard work and successful lobbying conducted by our local city councillor.
Evidence is piling up on the need to revisit the standard ‘supply’ versus ‘demand’ concept of how to improve governance for development. This is pointing to an exciting set of new priorities for reform in sub-Saharan Africa.
Recently, at a community meeting I attended at Robina clinic in Tonkolili district, Sierra Leone, facilitators asked a group of young women to rate the quality of health service delivery using what they coined the “mango test.” As part of this “test” community members decide how many hypothetical mangos, on a scale from 0 to 5, they would give a nurse as thanks for the quality of her care.
We know justice matters in development. Barriers to access to justice are a central dimension of poverty and an effective justice system is essential in ensuring a capable and accountable state. Across the world people strive to live in fair societies, where power is not exercised arbitrarily and fundamental rights are respected.
In many areas of contemporary development practice–from the formulation of local budgets to the delivery of education services–social accountability mechanisms are being employed to assist citizens in holding the state accountable and thus, hopefully, to improve development outcomes.
In June 2011, the Government of Mongolia amended the Public Procurement Law of Mongolia (PPLM) to include a new formal role for civil society and professional organizations in bid evaluation and contract monitoring.
An interesting new paper by Abhijit Banerjee, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Daniel Keniston, and Nina Singh shows how sometimes top-down reforms might be a good move through a look at a range of reforms tried out by the police in Rajasthan, India.
This week the Executive Board endorsed the Updated Governance and Anti-Corruption (GAC) Strategy. It is perhaps inevitable that at the end of a corporate strategy process one reflects a little on how it went, what one would do differently next time (not that I can contemplate for one moment any such 'next time' right now), and indeed, how things have changed since 2007.