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Transparency

Changing Lives through RTI

Luis Esquivel's picture

The Right to Information (RTI) has been highlighted as a key condition for citizen participation, social accountability and good governance, while also being recognized as a human right. In this context, the number of countries adopting RTI legislation has increased significantly in the past decade.

While in some countries RTI has been seen as part of the anti-corruption or state modernization agendas (for instance Mexico and Chile), in South Asia, particularly in India, it has been seen as part of the empowerment agenda. There, the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act has been embraced by grassroots groups as a powerful tool to demand their entitlements, especially those under government-sponsored social programs. This has resulted in use of the RTI Act by people to improve their living conditions. Although to a lesser extent, citizens in Bangladesh are beginning to realize the potential that their RTI Act has in this area.

Learning from the Last Five Years: CommGAP and Good Governance

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

As CommGAP draws to a close, I've been reflecting a bit on what I've learned from the program over the last five years and the many interesting research, practice and policy questions still left to be explored.


For me, CommGAP was one of the first programs to take a critical look at the phenomenon we call "good governance" by drawing linkages between the related but conceptually distinct strands of accountability, transparency, access to information, citizen voice and mobilization, civil society capacity building, media development, public opinion formation, democratic deliberation, and state capacity/ resilience/ legitimacy. I still remember a conversation I had with Sina at a conference many years ago, asking him how he envisioned the "connective tissue" between all these concepts. The CommGAP program, in a sense, was Sina's answer, and I've been lucky to be able to help articulate some of this work.

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.

CIMA
BBC to Launch Citizen Journalism Mobile App

“The BBC is planning a ’news gatherer’ app that will let ’citizen journalists’ file stories directly from their phones, which can be on the air within minutes.

Theoretically, the ”news gatherer app” will be able to feed user-generated content into the BBC’s content-management system, which is then edited by editorial staff and aired within minutes of submission.

The app is scheduled to launch using the HTML5-based web language to minimise reliance on specific handset operating systems, such as Apple iOS or Google’s Android, although a roadmap for the product is unclear.” 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.

Mobile Active
uReport: Citizen Feedback via SMS in Uganda

“For aid organizations, knowing what local communities and beneficiaries want and need is the key to running successful, sustainable programs. In Uganda, UNICEF is using mobile phones and broadcast media to get direct feedback from Ugandans on everything from medication access to water sanitation. The project, called uReport, allows users to sign up via a toll-free shortcode for regular SMS-based polls and messages. Citizen responses are used both in weekly radio talk shows to create discussion on community issues, and shared among UNICEF and other aid organizations to provide a better picture of how services work across Uganda.

Sean Blaschke, a Technology for Development specialist at UNICEF Uganda, explains that uReport gathers information from participants and informs citizens of their rights and available services. Recent polls have included questions about school dropouts, water point availability, mosquito net usage, and youth employment, all collected via SMS polls.” 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.

Financial Task Force
World Bank Unveils New Transparency Initiative

“Last week, the World Bank unveiled a major initiative to make their funding more transparent.  Through the new World Bank Finances portal, vast amounts of information about the inner workings of the Bank’s finances are now made easily accessible.  This includes information about specific funds that members are supporting, and the disbursement and repayment status of thousands of projects around the world.  Tools are provided to allow members of the public to comment on specific elements of the data, as well as to download datasets specifically catered to their needs.  The data is remarkably up-to-date, often covering information as recent as June 2011.”  READ MORE

Why Media Literacy Matters

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

For those of us who care about the media and its role in society and politics, the recent events surrounding News Corp in the UK have provided plenty of fodder for conversation. While there are many ways to analyze the situation, one aspect which has proved interesting to follow from a CommGAP perspective is the debate over how competing media outlets (or even the ones owned by News Corp) are and should be covering the story. This Washington Post article unpacks some of the ownership ties and potential (or perceived) conflicts of interest behind the coverage, noting that corporate affiliations have raised suspicions about the independence and objectivity of coverage.

Yes, The Revolution Will Be Televised. Now What?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

In a media landscape saturated with images of tweeting revolutionaries and blogging dissidents, it's easier than ever to assume a causal relationship between the spread of technology and political revolution. But take a closer look, and the issue begins to look a lot more complex.

An informative and timely new essay by Marc Lynch, an associate professor at George Washington University and prolific commentator on Arab media and political issues, deftly sums up the main arguments, contradictions and knowledge gaps surrounding the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the phenomena collectively referred to as "the Arab Spring." Entitled "After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State," (subscription may be required), the piece implicitly argues for abandoning the usual "optimist/pessimist" trope that plagues such discussions, favoring instead a more nuanced and complex perspective on the impact of ICT in authoritarian states. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, I agree - see this previous post.)

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.

NDI
The NGO Corruption Fighters' Resource Book

"Corruption is a very big problem in many nations of the world-some would assert that it is becoming more extensive, and more areas of development activity are being affected.  Corruption is also becoming, de facto, an attack on governance as more and more of the rules under which nations are governed are breached with impunity.  Citizen engagement is very important in fighting corruption, and there are particular advantages in getting NGOs more involved in the fight. NGOs have limitations, but also great potential strengths, and these can be better realized through better project management."  READ MORE

The Critical Publics of the International Investigator

Sina Odugbemi's picture

International investigators are the anti-corruption sleuths who work in many international institutions. Their job is to investigate corrupt practices within and around the projects funded by their institutions that are being implemented in different parts of the world. They have to be hard, tough and clever. Because of that they may frighten the people who know about what they do and might come under their gaze. But can they be successful as lone rangers? Do they need friendly, collaborative publics? It is easy to think that they don't; but it turns out that if they really want to be effective there are publics that they need to have with them one way or another.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

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

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA)
Funding Free Expression: Perceptions and Reality in a Changing Landscape

"CIMA is pleased to release a new report, Funding Free Expression: Perceptions and Reality in a Changing Landscape, by Anne Nelson, a veteran journalist, journalism educator, and media consultant. This report, researched in collaboration with the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), explores shifts in funding patterns for international freedom of expression activity. It is based on a survey of 21 major donors representing a broad range of private foundations and and government and multilateral aid agencies in North America and Europe. Among other key findings, the report explains that despite perceptions of shrinking support for freedom of expression, funding appears to have increased in recent years." READ MORE

Impact Blog - USAID
How Free is Your Media? A USAID-Funded Tool Provides Insight

"On May 3, the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day. Reflecting on the day’s events, a few important questions arise about what role the media plays in a community and in a democracy.

First, how does freedom of the press compare to freedom of speech? Not only do journalists need freedom to speak and write without fear of censorship, retribution, or violence, but also they need professional training and access to information in order to produce high-quality work. Furthermore, journalists need to work within an organization that is effectively managed, which preserves editorial independence. People need multiple news sources that offer reliable and objective news, and societies need legal and social norms that promote access to public information." READ MORE

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