Power to the People?: Learning from the Case of Citizen Voice and Action

Essential services often fail because citizens are unable to hold governments accountable. By studying the case of Citizen Voice and Action, a social accountability intervention introduced by the World Vision aid organisation, my thesis asks how impoverished citizens can be empowered to increase accountability for essential services and how to improve empowering intervention processes. Findings from twelve countries explain which citizen capabilities influence official behaviour and consequently, how to combine competing theories of accountability. Improving practice requires finding which localized cultural capabilities amplify collective power to enable change.

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How Systemic Inquiry Releases Citizen Knowledge to Reform Schools: Community Scorecard Case Studies

Despite the relevance of systemic practice for repairing broken public systems, documented instances where it empowers marginalised groups en masse to be action researchers are rare. Public school systems that fail to educate millions of pupils are ripe for systemic inquiry. Using evidence, this article identifies conditions under which such inquiry fosters school system accountability and increases pupil learning. By tracing the emergence of a type of community scorecard practice called Citizen Voice and Action (CV&A), it explains how and why marginalised groups use CV&A’s systems-enhanced participatory research to engage with and reform unresponsive public systems. It also shows how soft systems thinking and further action research enhanced scorecard methodology. Brief case studies of CV&A use in Ugandan primary schools illustrate and explain how communities reform schools by using CV&A to systematically foster accountability. Discussion identifies how processes free them to create and use systemic knowledge. This theorising helps explain conditions under which systemic inquiry into school and other public systems is being generalised and scaled up.

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The Politics of Accountability and Inclusive Development: Implications for Open Governance

The Politics of Accountability and Inclusive Development: Implications for Open Governance

There has been some important work done in recent years on the politics of inclusive development, and much of this has direct implications for those of us working on open governance.  In essence the question is whether open governance is contributing to inclusive development.  The answer may intuitively seem to be a yes, but I will argue that this isn’t necessarily the case.  I’ll then suggest some ways the links between openness and inclusion can be strengthened.

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Calling Citizens, Improving the State: Pakistan’s Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program, 2008 – 2014

Calling Citizens, Improving the State: Pakistan’s Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program, 2008 – 2014

In early 2008, Zubair Bhatti, administrative head of the Jhang district in Pakistan’s Punjab province, recognized the need to reduce petty corruption in the local civil service—a problem that plagued not only Punjab but also all of Pakistan. He began to contact citizens on their cell phones to learn about the quality of the service they had received. Those spot checks became the basis for a social audit system that spanned all 36 districts in Punjab by 2014. The provincial government outsourced much of the work to a call center, which surveyed citizens about their experiences with 16 different public services. The data from that call center helped district coordination officers identify poorly performing employees and branches, thereby enhancing the capability of the government to improve service delivery. By early 2014, the province was sending about 12,000 text messages daily to check on service quality. More than 400,000 citizens provided information between the beginning of the initiative and 2014. Known as the Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program, the Punjab’s social audit system became the template for similar innovations in other provinces and federal agencies in Pakistan.

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Public access to information for development : a guide to effective implementation of right to information laws (English)

Public access to information for development : a guide to effective implementation of right to information laws (English)

With more than 100 right to information (RTI) laws also called freedom of information or access to information laws now in place globally, the groundwork has been laid to advance more transparent, accountable, and inclusive governance as a pathway to poverty reduction and economic development. This guide explores the historical development of RTI laws, the factors that drive passage and effective implementation of these laws, the operation of the laws, and the impact of these laws in different country contexts and sectors, as well as the challenges of measuring the contribution of RTI laws to development outcomes.

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The Role of Social Accountability in Improving Health Outcomes: Overview and Analysis of Selected International NGO Experiences to Advance the Field

The Role of Social Accountability in Improving Health Outcomes: Overview and Analysis of Selected International NGO Experiences to Advance the Field

The 1993 World Development Report (WDR), Investing in Health, deemed strengthening accountability as one of the core elements of health sector reform. Engaging communities and community-based workers in the process of measuring health status of children, in assessing causes of deaths, in defining high- risk groups, and in measuring changes in mortality over time will enable governments to achieve levels of under-5 mortality according to their commitments.

Models involving International NGOs that used a social accountability approach in various sectors and at different levels including community, district, and national level, were reviewed as part of this paper and are presented regarding the processes undertaken to increase accountability and improve health outcomes. This paper presents common themes, challenges, and recommendations to expand and bring this approach to scale in the context of health and development.

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When Does ICT-Enabled Citizen Voice Lead to Government Responsiveness?

When Does ICT-Enabled Citizen  Voice Lead to Government   Responsiveness?

Around the world, civil society organisations (CSOs) and governments are experimenting with information communication technology (ICT) platforms that try to encourage and project citizen voice, with the goal of improving public service delivery. This meta-analysis focuses on empirical studies of initiatives in the global South, highlighting both citizen uptake (‘yelp’) and the degree to which public service providers respond to expressions of citizen voice (‘teeth’). The conceptual framework is informed by the key distinction between two distinct genres of ICT-enabled citizen voice – aggregated individual assessments of service provision and collective civic action. The first approach constitutes user feedback, providing precise information in real time to decisionmakers. This allows policymakers and programme managers to identify and address service delivery problems – but at their discretion.

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