Social Accountability is getting more and more innovative these days. A recent event organized by Justice for the Poor (J4P) showcased a pilot program in Sierra Leone where a group of development practitioners are exploring new ideas on social accountability and how legal empowerment tools, such as community paralegals can play a complementary role by helping communities navigate the murky waters of administrative accountability and hold the government and the healthcare service providers accountable.
I’ve got a paper I want you to read, particularly if you work for an NGO or other lobbying outfit. Not because it’s good – far from it – but because reading it and (if you work for an NGO) observing your rising tide of irritation will really help you understand how those working in the private sector, government or the multilateral system feel when they read a generalized and ill-informed NGO attack on their work.
The paper in question is from a reputable institution (Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute) and authors (Nicola Banks and David Hulme), and is about ‘the role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction’. Here’s the abstract:
The open agenda took a new twist a few weeks ago when Jamie Drummond, the Executive Director of ONE, talked about the open agenda at TEDGlobal by suggesting that post-MDG goals be “crowd-sourced,” i.e., people around the world should have a say in what they think the new MDGs should be. In a recent op-ed in the Globe and Mail, Drummond refers to this as the “bottom-up” poverty plan and notes, “A new plan can avoid the pitfalls of past top-down approaches – if it supports a more bottom-up citizen-led strategy for sustainable development.”
Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011
Originally published on February 8, 2011
Frank Rich, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, made a very important point this week: Revolutions are not about Facebook and Twitter. Revolutions are about human dignity and hunger. It seems that a few journalists are trying to push the (mainstream) media's fascination with the role of (social) media in Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran toward a more realistic point of view. After a prime-time CNN talking head stated that social media are the most fascinating thing about the events in Egypt (!), some senior journalists seem to have had it with the ICT hype. Rich tries to pull attention to why people rise up against their government: "starting with the issues of human dignity and crushing poverty."
- Iran, Islamic Republic of
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Middle East and North Africa
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Richard Engel
- Public Sentinel
- New York Times
- Lawrence Pintak
- Jim Clancy
- Independent Media
- Frank Rich
- Al Jazeera
The gender dimensions of corruption have typically been approached from the point of view of whether women are less corrupt than men and whether women are disproportionately affected by corruption. While the concept of women inherently possessing a higher level of integrity has been challenged, studies have confirmed that women do indeed bear significant negative consequences from corruption, at least in fragile states and weak institutional settings. In an article published on Transparency International's Anti-Corruption Research Network, Farzana Nawaz discusses these issues, the highlights of which I will cover in this blog.
Access to safe and reliable drinking water is not only problematic in rural areas but is becoming a growing concern in rapidly urbanizing cities in developing countries. Often, utilities do not get extended in low income areas and, even if they do, they are generally of poor quality. As a result, the poor are impacted the most. In recognition to this, The UN General Assembly recently passed a regulation (2010) that declared access to safe drinking water and sanitation a human right. However, to enable proper implementation of this declaration, meaningful participation is required from citizens to secure service delivery that meets their needs. Here is a case experiment in Kenya that sheds some light on the advantages and challenges involved in promoting citizen participation in water service delivery.
Investment in gender equality is smart economics, according to the recently launched World Development Report (WDR 2012) of the World Bank. Increasing women’s access to resources and participation in economic opportunities can increase productivity, improve outcomes for children and improve the overall development prospects of a country, concludes the report. However, a number of factors, mainly gender roles guided by staunch social norms and rigid institutional practices, have impeded recognition of women’s participation and contributions in economic activities. To address this issue, WDR proposes focused domestic public policies. In a recently held brown bag luncheon at the Bank, Dr. Fouzia Saeed shared her experience regarding these topics, and the resultant groundbreaking legislation in protection and promotion of Pakistani women’s rights and contributions to their country’s development.
Yet another performance monitoring tool has been introduced that directly engages citizens in the decision-making process regarding public services. The project, called U-Report, solicits citizen feedback via SMS polls and broadcasts the results through radio, press, face-to-face meetings and websites. The method of using both modern and traditional media devices to inform and solicit feedback from the public is expected to enable both the donor and the citizens to identify priority areas for development interventions and get an overall picture about how services work in a given community.
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- social accountability
- Performance Monitoring
- ICT and Demand for Good Governance
- Communications and Governance
- Civil Society and Public Services
Proponents of governments opening data to the public in order to increase transparency and better governance have been cheering recent developments, debates and discussions. While I have used this blog to highlight many of the advantages of Open Data in instigating demand-led governance, I recently stumbled upon an article by Tom Slee which has a different take on the digital solution. Below I summarize a few points from Slee’s article which I feel are worthy of contemplation.
Isolated geography, customary practices and gender roles often limit rural populations, particularly women and indigenous groups, from accessing relevant information and gaining adequate skills to effectively participate in development interventions. As a consequence, the wealth of knowledge that these communities possess goes unsolicited and undervalued. In fact, gender activists argue that rural women rarely serve as the primary source of information in communication for development initiatives and that such practices risk perpetuating elite capture and exacerbating existing inequalities.