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January 2011

How Do You Improve the Behavior of the Police?

Sabina Panth's picture

When the government of Uganda released a report ranking the Police Force as the most corrupt institution in Western Uganda, a native NGO called the National Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights (NAFODU) responded with a series of measures to bring changes in the ways the Police Force is operated in order to restore public trust and confidence in the institution.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

OpenAid
This is how aid transparency could look like

"People who argue for more transparency in development cooperation are often eager to point out all the merits of transparency. Unfortunately, often we are not very sure whether our claims are well founded. Even worse, there are very few examples who can illustrate how exactly, "more transparency" could look like. The International Aid Transparency Initiative which will be implemented by the first donors in 2011 is a concrete example of governmental and multilateral donors representing a large percentage of global ODA making aid information available and accessible.

Also, in non-governmental development cooperations efforts are underway to increase accountability and transparency. The UK-based NGO OneWorldTrust even created a website to map over 300 NGO accountability initiatives around the world. But there are few concrete examples of making the information about work of more than one NGO transparent and easily accessible."

A Legion of (Wiki)Leaks

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Just read a prescient New Yorker blog post on the sudden proliferation of plans for in-house Wikileaks-style operations at major media outlets. Al Jazeera started this trend with its "Transparency Unit," and the New York Times is now said to be developing something similar. It can't be long before others jump on the bandwagon. Author Raffi Khatchadourian (who authored this New Yorker profile of Julian Assange last year) does a nice job of attempting to map the just-emerging implications of this (possible) trend. Says Khatchadourian: "If the WikiLeaks model were to grow beyond WikiLeaks - much in the way social networking outgrew its earliest online incarnations - and develop more fully within the ambit of conventional media, it is likely that it would change in a way that reflects the different sources of authority that a stateless publisher and a conventional news organization each draw upon."

Liberal Constitutions and Elections Won't Do the Job

Sina Odugbemi's picture

This piece was originally contributed to the Governance for Development Blog.

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The entity often known as ‘the international community’ has a touching faith in standard liberal constitutions and one-person-one-vote elections. Now, while those are outstanding human inventions, it is becoming clearer every day that in plural, deeply divided societies these inventions alone will not lead to settled systems of governance.

Safety in Numbers

Antonio Lambino's picture

A few days ago, The New York Times published a piece on Indian citizens who have been intimidated, harassed, and killed because they made access to information requests on questionable government activities.  Many previous posts on this blog have featured successes and failures regarding various country experiences on right/access to information laws and their uneven implementation.  We have discussed threats and violence experienced by courageous people who have attempted to use such laws to dig up corrupt practices occurring in their own backyards.  These individuals are especially brave because they are located where the many eyes and ears of the mighty and powerful can easily find them.  They have nowhere to hide. 

The Public Sphere Enters Public Discourse

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Building on Johanna's earlier post on social media, I thought I'd highlight a few points from Clay Shirky's new piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled "The Political Power of Social Media" (users must register). The essay is a thought-provoking contribution to the ongoing discussion about technology's political impact - and it also gives me an opportunity to clarify a few issues regarding my thinking on the Internet and authoritarian regimes.

Girls Invent Social Network for Farmers in 48 hours

Sabina Panth's picture

The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya.  The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator).  The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.

Jeremy Bentham and Dictators Around the World

Sina Odugbemi's picture

A desperate, totally fed up young graduate sets himself on fire in a small, provincial town in his country and within weeks eddies of violent protests by citizens all over the country bring down an authoritarian regime. And everyone is stunned by both the suddenness and the scale of it all. But the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), would not have been surprised. He would have reminded the world of three things that he always said in the course of his long life:

Working With Those Who Can

Antonio Lambino's picture

The video posted above is the fourth in a series we are featuring on this blog.  The interview was conducted in June, 2010, during a learning event jointly organized by the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice and CommGAP entitled “The Political Economy of Reform: Moving from Analysis to Action.”  Featured in the video is Kapil Kapoor, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.  From the informed vantage point of managing not only a country portfolio, but also webs of relationships among local and international stakeholders, Kapoor cogently argues that donors and development agencies must broaden their view of in-country engagement:

… I think we need to be paying much more attention to civil society groups.  Over the longer term, there is no substitute from the people of a particular country putting pressure on their own governments to improve service delivery, to improve accountability, to improve transparency.  Often, when such demands come from donors, it’s quite easy for governments to turn around and externalize the issue and say ‘But these are people who’ve got no stake in our economy… they’re outsiders…’

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Poverty Matters Blog (Guardian)
Technology’s role in fighting poverty is still ripe for discussion

"I'm rarely one for predictions, so I shied away from the usual scramble to make a few at the start of the year. Looking back on events, however, is another thing, and for me 2010 has been a particularly interesting year on a number of fronts.

If I were to make one key observation, I'd say that the "D" in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) resembled more "debate" than "development" during 2010. The ICT4D field has always been ripe for fierce discussion – perhaps a sign that all is not well, or that the discipline continues to mature, or that the rampant advance of technology continues to catch practitioners and academics off-guard. Where, for example, does the advance of the iPad fit into ICT4D, if at all?"

One Year Later: ICT Lessons from the Haiti Earthquake

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

One year after the Haiti earthquake, the disaster response/development community is in a reflective mood. And well we should be: despite a massive cash influx in the wake of the disaster, the ongoing daily struggle for existence for many Haitians does not reflect well on the international community's attention span, coordination capabilities, and ability to respond in a sustained fashion to challenging and shifting local conditions. We can and should do better.

Why Sound Technical Solutions Are Not Enough: Part II

Let us go back to the main theme of this blog: why sound technical solutions devised by top ranking technical experts and supported by plenty of resources from the richest countries have failed to deliver the expected results. A review of past experiences identified a number of causes for the failures of past approaches, but most of them appear to be traceable to one directly linked to communication/dialogue, or the lack of; i.e. the limited involvement of the so-called ‘beneficiaries’ in the decisions and the design of activities that concerned their lives. To sum up, lack of results in development initiatives due to people failing to adopt the prescribed behaviours were largely due to the neglect of the voices of those who were expected to adopt and live with such innovations and technical solutions.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

From Poverty to Power (Oxfam)
What does the future hold for civil society organization?

"I’ve been struggling to make sense of the changing landscape for civil society organizations, North and South, and could do with your help. Here are some initial thoughts, but please send in your own, plus useful references:

One door opens, another shuts
There are contradictory and ambiguous trends for civil society at national and global levels. On the plus side:

  • Growing size, strength and sophistication at national level and globally of CSOs of all shapes, sizes and coalitions. (For an example, see previous post on the Global Campaign for Education)
  • Recognition from other actors (international institutions, aid donors, TNCs) of the importance of CSOs as partners and stakeholders"

Why Sound Technical Solutions Are Not Enough: Part I

Recently I was invited to hold the XI Raushni Deshpande Oration at the Lady Irwin College in New Delhi, India. This blog is a summary and a reflection of that presentation. As it can be inferred from the title, the focus is on why so many development initiatives have failed in the past and many are still failing in the present. Why after all these years, after all the money poured in, all the construction being made and all the resources dedicated to address this issue, are latrines still not being used in many places? Or they are used but not for the intended purpose? And why are bed nets aimed at preventing malaria adopted even when they are easily available? And many more ‘why’s’ such as these could be added to the list.

Organic Vs. Processed

Sabina Panth's picture

As I see it, the civilian-led movements in demand for good governance fall into two camps: ‘Project-instigated’ and ‘Organically-grown’.  My interest in dissecting ‘the organic’ vs. ‘project-instigated’ processes is induced by the significance of (i) the authenticity of the movement in the context of the actual need or interest, and (ii) the sustainability of the movement, or its impact at the system level, in changing norms, behavior patterns and institutional culture and processes.

Multistakeholder Initiatives: Are they Effective?

Johanna Martinsson's picture

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Kimberly Process, and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) are just a few examples of major Multistakeholder Initiatives (MSIs). Through comprehensive deliberative processes, involving a broad set of stakeholders from governments, private sector, and civil society, MSIs form and adopt new norms, which they seek to make part of the global agenda, and implement on the ground. MSIs gained traction in the late 1990’s, as a means of filling “governance gaps,” due to the failure of existing structures and processes, and as a means to solve problems through collective action. Lucy Koechlin and Richard Calland, have identified five functions of MSIs: 1) dialogue/forum, 2) institution building, 3) rule setting, 4) rule implementation and 5) rule monitoring.

As the use of MSIs is fairly recent, it might be too soon to question their effectiveness. However, Koechlin, Calland, and N.K. Dubash have identified challenges in their analysis of the EITI and the World Commission on Dams. These challenges, involving effectiveness, legitimacy and accountability, can impede a successful outcome.

The Perils of Biased Communication II: Fragile States

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

In my last blog post I wrote about the dangers of biased communication to a fair and level political playing field. In Western media systems the political polarization of media reporting (I hesitate to call it "news") is a somewhat recent phenomenon, but it's stark reality in countries where the media is owned by the government or a few influential political factions. Biased communication is not only problematic with regards to misinformation of the public.

In fragile states in particular biased communication can keep conflict alive, stir up unrest among the population, and endanger the formation of one unified idea of a nation. In fragile and post-conflict countries, communication, including the mass media, should ideally contribute to restoring a shared national identity and strengthen citizens' loyalty to their country. But consider the case of, for instance, Iraq: Ownership of private media is in the hands of competing political and ethnic factions. Their respective broadcasts reflect conflicting agendas, potentially widening the gap between Iraq’s communities, weakening a sense of national belonging and furthering the development of competing identities along sectarian lines, setting the country on a course of partition.

Public Opinion is the Ultimate Test

Antonio Lambino's picture

 

The video posted above is third in a series featured on this blog.  The interview was conducted last June, during a learning event jointly organized by the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice and CommGAP entitled “The Political Economy of Reform: Moving from Analysis to Action.”  Featured in the video is Larry Cooley, president of Management Systems International, a firm that manages and implements development projects globally.  From years of experience working on governance reforms in various countries, Cooley stresses the centrality of public opinion in bringing about successful and sustainable change:

For me the ultimate test on these change strategies is the legitimacy that they enjoy with the population, locally.  And I think in most countries the days have gone when some narrow set of technical experts could simply decide something and expect the rest of the world to implement it… I think that puts the burden on people who would see themselves as technical experts to translate whatever it is they know into a language that can be generally understood.  If they can’t do that, they’re unlikely to sway public opinion and, frankly, from my point of view, they shouldn’t be swaying public opinion… (which is) the ultimate test.”