These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
"This paper was part of International IDEA’s work on “Democracy and Development” in 2011. It was selected as a contribution to stimulate debate on and increase knowledge about the impact of democratic accountability on services. A summary of the papers selected and an analysis on some general trends are provided in “Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery: A Synthesis of Case Studies”
The study analyses a semi-governmental mechanism for accountability called social control councils. Through this mechanism beneficiaries are supposed to provide feedback on health and education services. However as beneficiaries have been heavily underrepresented in these councils and membership tends to be skewed towards the local government, they have not been able to function as intended." READ MORE 
How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter 
“Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.
Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.” READ MORE 
Introducing the FPwomerati 
“When Foreign Policy published its 2012 Twitterati 100 list, we could not help but be struck by the lack of women. Of the 100 tweeters Foreign Policy said "you need to follow," nearly 90 percent are men. Given the strong presence of smart, powerful, influential women on Twitter, we found this a bit hard to take. So, beginning near midnight U.S. East Coast time on Monday, a group of women from around the world created a list of interesting and influential activists, journalists, analysts, economists, geeks and wonks. Within a few hours, we had more than 200 names and our list had begun to make the rounds on Twitter.
How is this list different than FP's original list? It includes many prominent, influential women who know and tweet about foreign policy and international affairs but were overlooked by FP. It includes women who tweet in languages other than English, or tweet multilingually, and women who work and lecture in areas rarely covered by FP -- such as international development.” READ MORE 
Google reports 'alarming' rise in censorship by governments 
“There has been an alarming rise in the number of times governments attempted to censor the internet in last six months, according to a report from Google.
Since the search engine last published its bi-annual transparency report, it said it had seen a troubling increase in requests to remove political content. Many of these requests came from western democracies not typically associated with censorship.” READ MORE 
Do aid campaigns alienate the public and skew the development debate? 
A new report on attitudes to aid throws down a challenge to policymakers and campaigners in the way they communicate with the public on international development. The report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Institute for Public Policy Research said its findings support recent opinion polls showing a drop in support for increased aid spending in austerity Britain.
"There is a real challenge to better communicate the reality of the development process itself," said Leni Wild, research fellow at the ODI and co-author of the report. "A surprise to me was the strong message about the real appetite for hearing more about how change happens, what combination of factors go into it, whether aid works or not. There is a real opportunity for development actors to better reflect the work they do." READ MORE 
Council on Foreign Relations
ICT4Gov: Improving Governance Through Technology 
"A few weeks ago, I hosted a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations with Boris Weber, a senior governance specialist with the World Bank Institute, on how technology can improve governance in developing countries. Weber is the team leader of the World Bank Institute’s Information and Communication Technology for Governance project (ICT4Gov), which aims to increase civic participation and improve government service delivery through technology.
The philosophy behind ICT4Gov is that increased civic participation leads to better governance. For instance, if citizens can provide feedback to government about service delivery, and even rate the quality of specific programs, then government will have more information to prioritize service delivery and should be more accountable to citizens. Technology, especially increasingly ubiquitous cell phones, but also the Internet, makes it easier for ordinary people to engage directly with government; citizens become better advocates for getting the services that they most need, and governments can deliver those services more effectively." READ MORE 
"Greece must step up enforcement of laws that prohibit the bribing of foreign officials, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Working Group on Bribery said.
In one specific case of bribery of a foreign public official, Greek authorities “failed to open a domestic investigation” for almost two years after first discovering it, the OECD group said in a report published today. The case raises “grave concerns because of apparent inaction,” it said." READ MORE 
"Social media and user-generated content played an important role in coverage of the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya; however, content from the public was supplementary to traditional newsgathering in media coverage.
By contrast, in Syria, with the tight control and exclusion of foreign media, news organizations had to rely almost exclusively on user-generated content, particularly in the early months of the uprising. Much of the user-generated content used by news outlets came via Syrian activists inside Syria and in exile." READ MORE 
Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite 
- Syrian Arab Republic 
- Middle East and North Africa 
- Information and Communication Technologies 
- Governance 
- Twitter 
- Social Services 
- social media 
- safety nets 
- internet 
- ICT4Gov 
- google 
- Facebook 
- corruption 
- Censorship 
- Campaigns 
- Anti-Bribery 
- aid 
- Accuntability 
- ACCESS