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ICT for Accountability: Transparency "Bottom-Up"

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

At the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010 in Santiago last week, I was able to gather a wealth of information and ideas regarding the use of ICT for accountability. In a session on this topic I had the chance to discuss with people who actually implement citizen media projects on the ground and shared their experience and insights. A number of very interesting and useful ideas came up:

Accountability needs "bottom-up transparency". Many governments in developing countries do not have the capacity for gathering data that they could then publish for citizens to hold them accountable. Supporting government capacity may not be the only and not even the most efficient solution: Several participants of the session introduced projects where it is the citizens themselves that provide information about public services.

Iraq: Meaningful Reconstruction and Development

Louis Bedoucha's picture

I recently represented MIGA in a special working group of the OECD focused on Iraqi reconstruction.  It was an interesting and useful gathering, attended by Iraqi civil servants from across the administration, export credit agencies, and of course private sector representatives interested in doing business in the country.

Citizens Command Editorial Power

Sabina Panth's picture

Community-funded journalism is yet another demand-driven governance tool, which uses media to allow citizens to exercise their rights to public services.  The idea is that citizens, who are disgruntled with public services, and are having a hard time getting necessary support to address their concerns, no longer have to feel discouraged.  Instead, they can foster their pro-active citizenry by hiring reporters to investigate the matter and expose the issue to pressure for reform.  A media firm or a non-profit can act as an intermediary to catalyze this scheme.  Individuals and communities can approach the intermediary to propose and pay for the investigation or, the intermediary can propose stories and mobilize interested individuals and communities to fund the project.   The quality and impact of the investigation and reporting depends on the scope, size and weight of the issue tackled, extent of funding and the capacity of the intermediary to produce evidence-based persuasive reporting. 

Beware the Carrotmob

Naniette Coleman's picture

"It is true that economic and social objectives have long been seen as distinct and often competing.  But this is a false dichotomy; it represents an increasingly obsolete perspective in a world of open, knowledge-based competition. Companies do not function in isolation from the society around them."

Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy"
Harvard Business Review, 2002

Please, hold the door, the Carrotmob is coming. If you are among the un-indoctrinated, please allow me to introduce you to the Carrotmob. “Carrotmob is a type of consumer activism in which businesses compete at how socially responsible they can be, and then a network of consumers spends money to support whichever business makes the strongest offer.” According to Brian Byrnes, regular contributor to and author of “Argentine 'Carrotmob' stick up for green business” they are a global movement that is built on the 'carrot-or-the-stick' concept. Carrotmob rewards -- rather than punishes -- small businesses for employing sustainable practices. Essentially, a Carrotmob is the opposite of a boycott.”  Although the Carrotmob operates in the commercial sphere, they are working to increase, so called, public goods with other stakeholders in their community. Activities like those undertaken by the Carrotmob are an example of creative coalition building and help to begin to address one of the challenges of fostering a collective identity, maintaining both internal and external political efficacy.

Do We Trust the Media Enough?

Antonio Lambino's picture

Among the various roles news media play in governance, that of gatekeeper is one of the more problematic.  According to Pippa Norris and Sina Odugbemi in Public Sentinel, “as gatekeepers, the news media have a responsibility to reflect and incorporate the plurality of viewpoints and political persuasions in reporting, to maximize the diversity of perspectives and arguments heard in rational public deliberations, and to enrich the public sphere.”

Put simply, a gatekeeper lets some in and keeps others out.  Journalists, editors, and media organizations are supposed to exercise this function to advance diversity in the public sphere.  There are at least two ways in which this can be organized.  First, each and every news outlet can be tasked to reflect diversity.   Second, diversity can be reflected in the country’s overall media system.

The Singaporean Economy: Lessons for Post War Sri Lanka

Chathurika Hettiarachichi's picture

“There was no secret, we had no choice but to take chance and sail into rough waters”- Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore is an inspiration to Sri Lanka and other developing countries in terms of economic development, political stability, and good governance. Since 1967, it has increased its per-capita purchasing power (PPP) 10-fold to $44,600 in 2007, surpassing countries such as Switzerland’s PPP ($37,300) in 2007. Singapore also has high demographic development compared to Sri Lanka even though both countries were about even in 1960s. The President, Lee Kuan Yew, navigated the Singaporean economy after gaining independence in 1965. With a population of over 5 million, Singapore maintains a market driven guided economy with diversity in cabinet and government.

What was their secret to success?

At independence in 1965, the economy was met with unemployment problems, an unskilled workforce, few entrepreneurs, no domestic savings, wretched housing conditions, militant labour unions and racial riots. They devised a strategic economic plan; developing entrepot (commercial) trading, export driven manufacturing, and then creating a service based knowledge economy.

The Last Ones To Understand Water Are The Fish

Naniette Coleman's picture

My norms and values are not subtle.  They are time tested, “fact” based and I grip them with the strength of a vice.  I am no different from others; we all value some things, look haltingly at others, and better still refuse to consider the norms and values of some.   We all want to be open, malleable to others views but do not always know how to do it.  Norms and values take on particular importance when we are working to build coalitions with others who do not share our way of looking at things. Minor differences suddenly seem larger than they actually are when we face compromise battles with others.   

The Road to Issue-Based Politics is Very, Very Short

Antonio Lambino's picture

Many years back, a reporter asked a respected senator running for reelection in the Philippines why he remained in the opposition when most members of congress had joined the president’s party.  The answer he gave was memorable: “I stay with the opposition because I believe our country’s party system needs to be strengthened.”

I’m not sure what he meant exactly, but I suspect it may have had something to do with the role of ideology in politics.  As we know, dominant political parties in the developing world are deeply deficient in formulating and advocating coherent policy positions.  There are, of course, notable examples of ideologically grounded parties that have risen to prominence in Argentina, India, and South Africa.  But these are relatively rare occurrences.

Three Examples of Procurement Monitoring by Civil Society

Sabina Panth's picture

In my previous blog, I had discussed procurement monitoring in the light of the large amount of government money lost in public procurement due to corruption and whether civil society can play an effective role in curbing such waste.   I promised readers that I would come back to the topic, with innovative methods used by civil society in procurement reform.  My search shows that techniques such as (i) coalition building among civil society organizations, (ii) issue-based advocacy campaigns and, (iii) third party monitoring have been effective in civil engagement in public procurement. However, the success primarily depends on government cooperation and ownership of these processes.  To illustrate this point, I will analyze three case studies, drawing heavily from the book, “Our Money, Our Responsibility: A Citizen’s Guide to Monitor Government Expenditures,” published by the International Budget Partnership.