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Governance

Supporting Social Accountability in the Middle East & North Africa: Lessons learned from past political & economic transitions

Franck Bousquet's picture
The historic changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region since January 2011 reflect the citizens’ desire to challenge political and economic exclusion, provide their voice to the governments, and benefit more equitably from economic and social development in their countries. Barriers once thought to be unbreakable were broken, and citizens in the region united across ideological, demographic, religious and ethnic lines in search of a new social contract with their governments. 

 

The Art of the Posse-able

Michael Green's picture

If you want a model for how the world can solve its most pressing problems in the 21st Century, it is the posse. As governance systems go, the Wild West approach of rounding up a few available hands and driving the bad guy out of town is certainly messy, but, if our favourite westerns are any guide, it could be highly effective. Political theorists who can see the potential dress it up in highfalutin’ language as "coalitions of the willing" and governance based on "flexible geometry", but we prefer to call it what it is: a posse. And this week, in New York, we are going to see plenty of evidence of why, increasingly, solving global problems is all about the art of the posse-able.

Towards a new social contract in the Arab World: global lessons in citizen voice & accountability

Esther Lee Rosen's picture

In the spirit and calls for greater accountability and transparency, the World Bank is hosting a discussion bringing together high-level decision makers and civil society representatives from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. They will exchange knowledge and reflect on the experiences of experts from Indonesia, Turkey and Philippines, who will share the work that have supported the development of social accountability during critical transition periods.

U-Report

Sabina Panth's picture

Yet another performance monitoring tool has been introduced that directly engages citizens in the decision-making process regarding public services.  The project, called U-Report, solicits citizen feedback via SMS polls and broadcasts the results through radio, press, face-to-face meetings and websites.  The method of using both modern and traditional media devices to inform and solicit feedback from the public is expected to enable both the donor and the citizens to identify priority areas for development interventions and get an overall picture about how services work in a given community. 

Are you poor? Then file a lawsuit

Varun Gauri's picture

In 2010, the Delhi High Court issued a landmark ruling on the right of poor women to access maternity benefit schemes. The case involved Fatema, a woman suffering epilepsy, who went into labor in May, 2009. Although Fatema’s mother went to the hospital to request an ambulance and assistance, as the baby girl was also suffering an epileptic seizure, she was turned away.

Building for growth, not elites

Caroline Freund's picture
The media is widely reporting the discovery of a labyrinth of air-conditioned tunnels under the Gadhafi complex. By the time Saddam Hussein was removed from power, he had built close to 80 palaces in Iraq, with his initials carved into their walls, columns and ceilings. This is of course not unique to the region. Ceausescu’s House of the Republic remains the world’s second largest building, with over 1000 rooms and nearly 500 crystal chandeliers.These extravagant structures highlight why infrastructure investments are often not growth enhancing in the absence of good governance.  Without transparency and accountability, questionable spending goes unpunished.

Deliberation and Self-Interest

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

A reader of this blog recently pointed out that "deliberation is infused with issues of power, self-interest, bargaining ... it seems that the position now endorsed by the hard core of deliberative theorists presumes levels of equality and so forth that presuppose many hard development issues already are surmounted or (minimally) addressed." We thank this reader for pointing to an interesting article in the Journal of Political Philosophy by Jane Mansbridge and colleagues, which addresses issues of self-interest and power in deliberative democracy and calls for accepting (constrained) self-interest as integral part of democratic deliberation.

Tertiary Education: Blind Spot or System Failure?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

A comment I posted on Chris Blattman’s blog on the problems with Africa’s higher education was picked up in a lively discussion on the Roving Bandit blog (“Probably the best economics blog [previously] in Southern Sudan”). 

First, for those who are interested in my paper with Celestin Monga and Tertius Zongo on “Making Higher Education Finance Work for Africa,” here it is

Second, I would like to hear people’s views on the issue raised:  Is the poor state of African higher education the result of neglect (“blind spot”) by donors, who emphasized primary education, or is it because the presumption that higher education should be financed and provided (largely free of charge) by the government led to “government failures”—where only the elite got access to the free university education, and the universities themselves became politicized?

Mobile-mapping Corruption

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Here's an interesting example of anti-corruption work in the mobile realm: a new application called Bribespot helps ordinary people report on instances of corruption they witness in their daily lives. According to this piece on MobileActive.org, users can download a mobile app for Android, which they can then use to submit specific instances of bribes. (Users can also submit through a website). A central office checks the submission and removes identifying information before posting to a database. According to the developers of the app, it is not intended to identify specific individuals, but rather to help visualize the extent of corruption, and to provide a basis for anti-corruption agencies and others to follow up. So far, the app is being used mainly in Lithuania and Romania.

Quote of the Week: Ashutosh Varshney

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“It is the between-the-elections conduct of the state that is the focus of the anti-corruption movement. Ironically, though Mr Hazare is rural, the urban middle class, a child in India’s risking prosperity, has formed the base of the movement. That also means it will have the internal resources to last. A political battle has begun to make democracy deeper. The political class should be concerned."

-- Ashutosh Varshney, "India’s battle for democracy has just begun", Financial Times, August 29, 2011


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