Syndicate content

The “How to” of the Results Agenda

Antonio Lambino's picture

While there may be multiple entry points to doing development work, they should all lead to the same obvious place.  That is, of course, reducing poverty and suffering in the world.  For people in development and related fields, working toward these lofty goals requires the tenacity toward achieving results, willingness to be monitored and evaluated, and commitment to continuously enhance one’s technical competence and personal effectiveness.

CommGAP recently met with representatives of the African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (AfCoP-MfDR).  On its website, AfCoP describes itself as a virtual community that “promotes learning and knowledge exchange among public managers, organizations, executing agencies and practitioners on how to manage better for Development Results.”  The community has over 500 members from over 32 African countries, working in government, civil society, and the results practice areas.  Online discussions revolve around five substantive areas of managing for results: leadership; M&E; accountability and partnerships; planning and budgeting; and statistical capacity. 

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"When corruption is king, there is no accountability of leadership and no trust in authority. Society devolves to the basic units of family and self, to the basic instincts of getting what you can when you can, because you don’t believe anything better will ever come along. And when the only horizon is tomorrow, how can you care about the kind of nation you are building for your children and your grandchildren? How can you call on your government to address what ails society and build stronger institutions? "

- Nuhu Ribadu's Testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee, May 19, 2009.

Visiting Fellow at St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford; Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development; and former Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria.

Best Wishes to Professor Habermas

Tom Jacobson's picture

I am asked by the CommGAP team if I would be willing to post a note on the occasion of Jürgen Habermas's 80th birthday. I am grateful for being asked, and especially pleased at the moment of reflection on a remarkable life that this requires.  
 

Of course, his work on the relationship between communication and democratization is widely celebrated. Somewhat ruefully for some of us, since it always seems that one has just finished struggling through an engagement with his latest work when he produces yet another, often in a different field of scholarship: first the public sphere, then reason, then ethics, then law, and most recently religion. But, not to complain. These efforts are all connected together in a system of thought that has the subject of deliberative democracy at its core.
 

Benchmarking Expectations: Pre-Election Polling and Accountability

Taeku Lee's picture

The on-going controversy around the presidential election result in Iran raises an important curiosity.  It is clear at the present moment that the official results have defied expectations and dashed hopes for many.  From the standpoint of political accountability, there are at least two important questions that arise.  First, where do these expectations and hopes come from?  Perceptions that the election was "stolen" must be based in some sense of a range of plausible outcomes, and the declared 63% to 34% split clearly fell out of this range for Moussavi supporters and comfortably within this range for Ahmadinejad supporters.  The problem of conflicting pre-election expectations is an old one, rooted in what social scientists often call "homophily."  Where we stand is often determined by where we sit, and we tend to sit in deeply embedded and entrenched social information networks amongst others who are very much like us in body, mind, and spirit.  Those in the Ahmadinejad camp most likely set their expectations in the company of other Ahmadinejad supporters and those in the Moussavi camp most likely set their expectations in the company of fellows who championed Moussavi's cause.

Why Uruguay?

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Again, Uruguay shows that when civil society intelligently promotes coalition-building and finds sympathetic allies in government, media reform is possible. On June 10, the Congress passed a bill to reform the Penal Code and the Press Law. The new law will abolish libel laws and subject national legislation on communication issues to criteria enforced by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The bill is likely to be approved by the Executive.

This achievement is another landmark of recent efforts towards media democracy in Uruguay. During the past two years, legislation on community broadcasting, access to public information, and national archiving of information was approved. The passing of community broadcasting law in December 2007 represented a major success. The law assigns one-third of radio frequencies to community, non-profit stations. It defines community stations in terms of the nature of their goals (“social mission”) and ownership (“collective properties”) rather in terms of reach or geographical location. It stipulates the existence of the Consejo Honorario Asesor de Radiodifusión Comunitaria, a multi-sectoral committee with significant representation from civil society that oversees the bidding process and monitors the performance of stations to ensure that they meet social goals. The passing of the “freedom of information” law in October 2008, and the elimination of libel and contempt laws are other positive advances. This is encouraging if we consider that, like in the rest of the region, the dominant media system historically conformed with the norm of media policies in Latin America: state patrimonialism and collusion between governments and large business.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Democratic procedures and public service media are... important correctives to the mistaken trust in the therapeutic powers of unbridled technical expertise... The belief in technocratic solutions... does not properly acknowledge that the language games used to define and portray risk frame the policy process, and in turn govern the attempted regulation of risk.  The belief in technocratic solutions is also dangerous insofar as it can bolster the temptations to deal with... risks through dirigiste policies or by resorting to states of emergency and crackdowns on the media.  Democracy and public service media are unrivalled remedies for technocratic delusions of this kind.  They raise the level and quality of 'risk communication' by guaranteeing the open flow of opinions, risk evaluations and controversies back and forth among individual citizens, academic experts, administrators, interest groups and social movements.  Democratic procedures combined with public service media can open up and render accountable the process in which citizens, experts, and policymakers comprehend, estimate, evaluate and deal with the probabilities and consequences of risks."

- John Keane (1991), The Media and Democracy

Photo credit: www.johnkeane.net

The Word on the Street: Writing as Personal and Social Transformation

Darshana Patel's picture

London’s Big Issue often features interviews with famous movie stars like Kate Winslet while the latest Big Issue South Africa features a review of a recently released local movie about 1950s apartheid.

Bogota has La Calle, Manila has The Jeepney magazine, and Washington, DC has Street Sense. Similar publications are found all over the world and have one thing in common. They are all written by people who are either homeless or living in vulnerable, temporary housing.

Many of these publications are part of The International Network of Street papers (INSP), a network of 101 street papers in 37 countries on 6 continents. The readership of these papers is at an astounding 30 million globally. 

The People's Purse: Budgeting for the Poor

Antonio Lambino's picture

It is uncontroversial that the resources governments spend belong to the people.  How these resources get allocated varies from country to country at the national and local levels.  Debates and deliberations surrounding the budgetary process are usually technical, tedious, and time-consuming.  Nonetheless, budgeting in the public sector is a critical entry point for the demand for better public goods and services and, more broadly, meaningful and effective citizen engagement.  If citizens could exercise their voices in the prioritization of public sector spending, then government programs would have a higher likelihood of reflecting the needs and wants of constituents.  So a key challenge and opportunity in this area is finding a judicious balance between solid technical analysis and meaningful citizen participation.
 

Changing Norms: Generating Public Will to Fight Corruption

Fumiko Nagano's picture

The current, mainstream approach to anti-corruption work by the international community involves establishing a normative framework (such as the comprehensive United Nations Convention against Corruption) that details a set of recommended standards for countries to meet, requesting that countries ratify the framework, and assisting them in achieving these standards. The framework lists specific measures designed to help countries prevent and control corruption, such as the establishment of independent anti-corruption commissions, creation of transparent procurement and public financial management systems, and promotion of codes of conduct for public officials rooted in ethics and integrity, to name a few.

No Public Will, No Accountability

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Last week and this, the Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA) piloted the new World Bank Institute's (WBI) new Core Learning Program "Introduction to Social Accountability" near Johannesburg, South Africa. CommGAP was invited to present a module on "Communication and Strategies for Constructive Engagement" - introducing our core concepts and messages on mobilizing public opinion to create genuine demand for social accountability. Here's a comment from the evaluations of our module: "The mobilization of public opinion is vital for social accountability. I have to admit that I was not aware of the importance of public opinion for social accountability before this course!"

Pages