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Bridge over Troubled Waters: Navigating the Policy Divide

John Garrison's picture

The World Bank has been engaging a wide variety of policy advocacy CSOs on the issues of access, rights, and financing of urban water and sanitation programs over the past five years. Of particular concern to CSOs have been the issues of water privatization, cost-recovery approaches, and lack of affordable water services for low income populations in Bank-financed water and sanitation projects. For its part, the Bank has welcomed this dialogue because it clearly shares with civil society the goal of extending universal coverage to the poor in developing countries and improving delivery effectiveness. Within this context, the Bank has undertaken a watershed process of meetings and joint research with leading NGOs, trade unions, and research centers. The Bank’s most significant civil society interlocutor to emerge during this period has been the Freshwater Action Network (FAN), which is an international coalition of several hundred CSOs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America who work on water and sanitation issues.

Quote of the Week: Raymond Williams

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"The basic principle of democracy is that since all are full members of society, all have the right to speak as they wish or find. This is not only an individual right, but a social need, since democracy depends on the active participation and the free contribution of all its members. The right to receive is complementary to this: it is the means of participation and of common discussion. The institutions necessary to guarantee these freedoms must clearly be of a public-service kind."

 

Raymond Williams, Communications (1962)

Introducing: The GSDRC Topic Guide on Communication and Governance

Antonio Lambino's picture

  

CommGAP and the University of Birmingham’s Governance and Social Development Resource Center (GSDRC) have partnered in producing a topic guide on communication and governance.  The guide attempts to capture and summarize for governance specialists and development professionals some of the best thinking and applied research on the contributions of communication approaches and techniques to governance reform initiatives.  Links and references to more detailed sources and full studies are also available.  The site is meant to grow over time, so your feedback and suggestions would be much appreciated.

Benchmark to Monitor Public Services

Sabina Panth's picture

The demand driven accountability approach puts citizens in charge of monitoring public services.  But can ordinary citizens easily access public data against which they can monitor quality of services? What is the reference point against which standards are measured?  Can the government make the required information available? What are the incentives for the government to cooperate?  Citizens’ Charter initiatives attempt to respond to some of these queries.

Whānau Coalition Building: Intra-Group Relationality ≠ Best Practice Transferability

Naniette Coleman's picture

The beads in her traditional red, black and white headpiece rustled in response to her subtle bow.  Although the degree took years of work, it took only a matter of seconds for her advisor, Professor Mark Warren, to loop her Doctoral hood around her neck and drape it down her back. On May 26, 2010, Malia Villegas became one of very few Alaska Natives (indigenous) with a Doctorate.  Stanford educated Malia, co-editor of “Indigenous Knowledge and Education, Sites of Struggle, Strength, and Survivance” Malia, Fulbright scholar and newly minted Doctor of Education from Harvard University Malia is not one out of a thousand, not one out of a hundred or even fifty.  In 2008, there were only 21 Alaska Natives who obtained a PhD from any school at anytime in the United States.  It is safe to say that Malia is perhaps one of twenty-five or thirty. 

The Age of Communication Research

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Communication is something of an ugly duckling in the social sciences – not many people take it seriously and not many people see the immediate relevance of the research. However, the study of public opinion is a good example to outline the immediate relevance of the field – and its future relevance.

Opining at the Speed of Light

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

During a recent discussion on the issue of diplomacy in the information age, hosted by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, I got to mulling over the idea of the transnational public sphere. An interesting recent paper out of Europe by Jens Steffek focuses on the emergence of this transnational public sphere and its ability to successfully pressure public institutions for greater accountability and better governance. I believe new communication technologies have amplified this sphere's scope and scale. 
 
But the question that then arises is this: does the very force that enables and empowers the transnational public sphere also degrade the quality of deliberation upon which it depends to function effectively?  In a globally networked information environment, public opinion can coalesce in the blink of an eye, fed by multiple information sources both credible and non-credible. Can a transnational public sphere truly be an effective force for better governance if it is not backed by genuinely informed debate and deliberation? What separates a transnational public sphere from a transnational mob? 

Bonding vs. Bridging

Sabina Panth's picture

When I think of social capital, I think of a group, an organization or a coalition of groups that hold memberships of common interests, purposes and visions, where there is solidarity, reciprocity and collective strength, and which wields power and resources to forge collective benefits.  Community empowerment, group formation, civil society strengthening, coalition building are integral components of social capital and social development interventions, which are gradually getting recognition for their economic and political potential in serving broader development goals.  But social capital can be highly contextual.  One kind of social capital may be good in one setting but not necessarily in another setting. Therefore, it is very important to understand negative and positive consequences of social capital in designing policy and program interventions.

The Power of Propaganda by the Deed

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The underdogs of the world, all the outgunned of the world, have a technique they can deploy that the powerful consistently underestimate. They can deliberately provoke the powerful, and the powerful take the bait and unleash their mighty forces. The key to the technique is that the underdogs make sure that the depredations of the powerful are caught on camera...and mass communicated.

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