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Public Sector and Governance

Are Citizen Service Centers Viable?

Sabina Panth's picture

In my earlier blog post, I had conceived the idea of 'fee-based service centers' that can be run through public-private partnership with the goal of improving citizens’ access to, and delivery of, government services.  The concept was considered in the context of sustainability of demand for good governance practices in relation to the aid dependency culture of civil society organizations.   Recently, I became aware that such ‘fee-based service centers’ do prevail and, in fact, have caught the attention of policymakers and development experts.

Fascinating FreedomFone

Sabina Panth's picture

As I explore innovative approaches in civilian-led movements, I become increasingly knowledgeable about the latest technological gadgets and devices that have become powerful tools in demand for good governance and democratic reform processes.   Don’t worry, I won’t go on about the Arab Revolution and the role of social media yet again.  Instead, I will talk about a latest invention that does not even require the end users to have a web access, something that can be exploited by just anyone, even the illiterates.  FreedomFone is an ICT invention that has been specifically designed to cater to those that are in most need of information, bearing in mind the barriers they face in accessing information and the opportunities it provides to improve their conditions.

What Role Does Civil Society Play in Economic Development?

Sabina Panth's picture

I recently came across a fascinating initiative where civil society organizations have played a lead role in building public-private partnerships in economic development activities.  The USAID-sponsored Education for Income Generation (EIG) program has brought together local, national and international partners in galvanizing disadvantaged youth to partake in income generating activities toward increasing economic activities and peace building process in post-conflict Nepal. 

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.

Media Regulation: Who Needs Your Protection?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Freedom of expression and media freedom - most contentious issues not only in autocracies but, seemingly increasingly, also in democracies. It's a fine line between regulating the media and strangling it. Who should be protected by media regulation? The media? The public? Freedom of expression? The government? National security?

Let's start with the media. Does the media need protection? Surely - at least to some extend media systems need to be shielded from being overwhelmed by economic and political interests. If we assume that a free and balanced media is fundamental to a healthy balance between the state and its citizens there need to be safeguards that allow journalists to report without fear of repercussions.

Supporting Innovation by Connecting Local Actors: Reporting Tax Research in Kenya

Antonio Lambino's picture

Findings from the study of the social diffusion of ideas, products, and practices, suggest that innovation can be cultivated by building bridges that link previously disconnected networks and communities of practice.  CommGAP supported a project in Kenya which could very well be undergirded by this idea.  Implemented by the Panos Network's Relay Programme, the project has been documented in a recently published case study entitled “Reporting tax research: Connecting researchers and journalists for improved media coverage and debate in Kenya”.

It’s Our Money

Sabina Panth's picture

It has been argued that corruption cases are focused mostly on the offenders and retribution is calculated on material value. This leaves out the victims of corruption and the collective damage done to the society at large, especially when the malfeasance involves the misappropriation of public money.  The concept of ‘social damage’ is an emerging concept in the anti-corruption movement, which seeks to identify, quantify, and repair the impact and consequences of corruption on ordinary citizens.  It posits that citizens, as taxpayers, are entitled to a legal claim on public money and how it is spent because “every dollar lost in corruption is a dollar stolen from spending in education, social services, poverty reduction and job creation (Its Our Money)”.

Skeptics and Idealists in Demand

Sabina Panth's picture

Two types of reaction are common when talking about civil society engagement in public sector reform: 1. Skeptical.  2. Idealistic.  This leaves very little room for a realistic view to genuinely reflect on the actual impact and contributions of civil society in good governance work. 

Sanumaya’s Tale: Policy Response

Sabina Panth's picture


In my previous post, I narrated Sanumaya’s tale in the context of how development that looks good from the above can be problematic when viewed at the local level, particularly for socially and economically marginalized populations.  The village was building a road that connected to the highway.  Everyone was excited at the prospect of economic prosperity.  Except, it came at the cost of dislodging the poor and vulnerable, like Sanumaya, whose poverty, illiteracy and social status became her entrapment. 

SMS Gateways for Public Accountability

Sabina Panth's picture


Last week, I attended a presentation on Strengthening Good Local Governance in Indonesia: Lessons from a Demand-Driven Approach.  The $62 million 5-year USAID-funded program focused on both the supply (strengthening core competencies of local administration) and demand (strengthening institutions to ‘lobby’ for good governance) in the context of the recent “big bang” decentralization in Indonesia.  The presentation featured various tools and instruments for good governance.  I was particularly struck by ‘SMS gateways’ - a new e-governance tool that has been used to strengthen public accountability mechanisms in local governance.

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