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Competing Approaches to Social Accountability

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture
Advocates of social accountability approaches believe that regular elections are not enough to bring about a change in service delivery

Seeking accountability from public service providers remains one of the most prominent governance challenges in developing countries. In recent years, there has been a burst of social accountability tools, and NGOs and governments have promoted their use widely. Broadly, social accountability refers to approaches that seek to foster accountability through enhanced civil society engagement.

The advocates of social accountability approaches believe that the regular cycle of elections—in spite of the near continuous cycle of elections for the village councils, state and centre—are not enough to bring about a substantive change in service delivery. In this context, there is the opportunity to experiment with alternative mechanisms of fostering social accountability. Researchers at the Centre for Future State of the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, conclude from their field studies in Delhi and Sao Paulo, Brazil, that social accountability tools can be used to set the minimum required standard of public services by “highlighting deficiencies in existing provision or entitlements”. This also works when citizens’ demands are “framed in terms of legal or moral rights”.

As a set of approaches for “good governance”, social accountability tools represent an interesting collection of hypotheses. One, that involving citizens in local planning, budgeting and spending decisions will ensure that the design and implementation of public services is pro-poor. Local governments and decentralized systems for local planning and service delivery are the usual form in which this approach manifests itself.

#7 from 2012: Knowledge Management is Not Mere Dissemination

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2012

Originally published on April 3, 2012
 

Knowledge, or the lack of, is often associated with the success or failure of development initiatives. For decades, communication’s main role was to fill the knowledge gap between what audiences knew and what they needed to know, with the assumption that this would induce change. We now know that this is seldom the case. In the modernization paradigm, media were expected to provide needed knowledge through messages that could fill knowledge gaps, build modern attitudes, and eventually shape behaviours. After years of under-delivering on their promises, development managers and decision-makers are increasingly realizing that it is not enough to have sound technical solutions and disseminate information in order to have audiences adopt the innovations.

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.

UN
Over two billion people now connected to Internet but digital divide remains wide

“While citing the rapid development and growth of the Internet, a top United Nations official today urged greater efforts to bridge the ongoing digital divide and ensure that everyone around the world can harness its benefits.

There were 2.3 billion Internet users worldwide at the end of 2011, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, said in his address to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which opened in Baku, Azerbaijan. In addition, mobile broadband reached more than 1 billion subscriptions, while the use of fixed broadband was estimated at 590 million subscriptions.

“While this progress is surely significant, we have a long way to go in our collective efforts to bridge the digital divide,” he told participants, noting that only a quarter of inhabitants in the developing world were online by the end of 2011.”  READ MORE

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.

The Wall Street Journal
World Bank Says National Anti-Corruption Authorities Need to Step Up

“The World Bank’s anti-graft unit says many countries aren’t following through with investigations of corrupt conduct discovered by bank officials.

The Integrity Vice Presidency referred 40 cases to governments and anti-corruption agencies for investigation in fiscal 2011, and 32 cases the year before, but the response has been underwhelming, bank officials said in a report released Friday.

“We expect national authorities to give proper attention and consideration to the Bank Group’s referrals of investigative information,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in an introduction to the report. ‘Ideally, this should lead to their undertaking competent investigations, prosecutions, and adjudication within the country—but it often has not.’”  READ MORE

Social Media for Good Governance: The Quality Measurement Challenge

Tanya Gupta's picture

This is the last of a three-part blog series on Social Media for Good Governance (Social Media for Good Governance: No Silver Bullet Yet- I, Social Media for Good Governance: The Quality Challenge-II)

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There is lot of garbage in the current social media stream today. For social media to be an effective tool in bringing about good governance, you have to be able to recognize quality information.  Defining quality of information is a complex science but for the moment we can define quality as meaningful information for a given user or group of users, with an associated set of considerations that would help measure "meaningfulness".

There are a few quality related considerations that come to mind.  One is identify measures of quality of the data itself, regardless of the source.  Another is to determine the quality of the source and make the assumption that quality sources provide quality data in the social media stream. 

Forget the Mainstream Media - Go Web, Go Local

Paul Mitchell's picture

A Canadian band had a line in a song, "all touch, and all touch and no contact" which echoes the way that organizations try to reach people with information about development and governance. Very adept at knowledge production, material such as studies, books, reports, power points, research documents, they are often very good at sharing these among  ‘cocktail party’ colleagues. But what is being done about reaching the people who need to be convinced to take action with this knowledge?
 

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“When you attain a critical mass, when you get the blogsphere buzzing or you get people retweeting, or you get people signing petitions and passing around information on social networking, then you get the mainstream media covering it and you can build a groundswell and you can affect governments. “ Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) , at a CPJ annual report news conference.

Filling Another Need for Haiti - Information

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

As the Bank and others prepare their response plans for Haiti, it is worthwhile taking a moment to stress the importance of media and communication in the aftermath of the disaster, as well as in the more long-term post-crisis reconstruction period.
 

In both post-conflict and natural disaster situations, donors focus on filling people’s basic needs: shelter, sustenance, medical care. But there is another basic need that people have in emergencies: information. People need to find out if their loved ones are safe, and if so, how they can communicate with them. They need to find out where they can access basic services. They need to find out if it is safe to go back to their homes, and if not, where they can stay. And in the longer term, they need to reconnect with others in society, to come together to rebuild a nation.
 

Shouting Heads

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

In his latest post, Tony Lambino makes an interesting argument about pundits and social norms. He says that pundits' comments, for example on statements of public figures, are a manifestation of the social norms of a society. Punditry is a fascinating phenomenon and a recent development in the mass media - and might have changed the media landscape quite significantly.

Pundits discuss current affairs from their own point of view, often together with or in contrast to other pundits. Pundits can be experts, such as academics, but often journalists stylize themselves to be experts on political and other issues. It seems debatable to me whether punditry it is indeed part of the media's role in democracy.

(Development) Communication: The Lubricant for Running the Development Engine Smoothly

The third of the ten key issues about development communication is a crucial one and it asserts that there is a significant difference between development communication and other types of communication. What is the difference and why is important? Let us start by defining communication’s most renowned function; i.e.

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