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Submitted by Shanta on

Junaid: I'm glad you like the dialogue format--we should do one with you. I fully agree that information alone may not be sufficient for poor people to hold policymakers and service providers accountable. The question is what else can be done to help strengthen voice and client power. The answer is, as you say, to strengthen institutions that permit poor people to exercise their voice. But remember that any institution that strengthens the voice of poor people is weakening the power of someone else (think about decentralization shifting power from central to local governments). If these people are powerful enough, they can resist or undermine such institutional changes. This is why we have to be careful in proposing "pro-poor" institutional changes without watching out for the unintended consequences, most of which stem from those whose rents are being diminished managing to scuttle the reform. Incidentally, what I am proposing is not "bypassing government" but helping to make government more effective by improving poor people's ability to hold government accountable. Shanta