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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.

Action Groups Move…on Water

Sabina Panth's picture

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.

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 Economist
The Open Government Partnership

“UGANDA is not best known as a testbed for new ideas in governance. But research there by Jakob Svensson at the University of Stockholm and colleagues suggested that giving people health-care performance data and helping them organise to submit complaints cut the death rate in under-fives by a third. Publishing data on school budgets reduced the misuse of funds and increased enrolment.

Whether dewy-eyed or hard-edged, examples abound of the benefits of open government—the idea that citizens should be able see what the state is up to. Estonians track which bureaucrats have looked at their file. Indians scrutinise officials’ salaries painted on village walls. Russians help redraft laws. Norwegians examine how much tax the oil industry pays. Many see openness as a cure for corruption and incompetence in public administration. The problem is how to turn the fan base into an effective lobby.”  READ MORE

Is an Email the Best Way to Get Attention?

Caroline Jaine's picture

I’ve been having a look at business communications in the UK this month – with some surprising discoveries for our brilliant 21st Century connected world. 

Twenty-five years ago, as an office junior, I would marvel at the wonders of a fax-machine. The speed that a written message could be pushed down a telephone line and be printed out at the other end in curls of warm paper was wonderment. Colleagues would actually rush to the machine when it rang, to see what would come out and from whom.  Today fax-machines are rarely used, and when they are, their pace appears exhaustingly slow and eyes roll to the sky as a whole bundle of papers gets dragged into the jaws of the machine, meaning the exercise needs repeating. It feels inefficient.

Quote of the Week: Steve Jobs

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

 

Steve Jobs

at the 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University

Marching citizens: when elections do not produce accountability

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In several rich, post-industrial constitutional democracies, angry citizens are marching once again. And can you blame them? They watched as out-of-control banks took outrageous risks and brought hitherto sound economies to their knees. They watched as these banks were rescued with tax-payer resources. They watched as the same bankers and banks returned to their buccaneering  ways, while escaping any accountability. Now, everywhere austerity measures are crushing the underclass and shrinking the middle class. The culture of impunity at the top of society is driving ordinary citizens into paroxysms of rage.  Now, they are beginning to march, and march. Nobody knows where it is all going to lead.

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

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