Why engage citizens in policy and program decision making? How does their input affect development outcomes? And what happens if citizens are engaged (or at least given the opportunity to do so)?
The UN Report: People Matter: Civic Engagement in Public Governance states that “engagement is regarded as an important governance norm that can strengthen the decision-making arrangements of the state and produce outcomes that favor the poor and the disadvantaged. In this light, [citizen] engagement emerges as conducive, if not critical, to attaining the MDGs” (2008)
What do you think? Is government’s role shifting from that of a “vending machine” to a platform that harnesses citizens’ knowledge and capabilities? And if so, is this a good thing?
The idea of actively engaging citizens in public sector decision making has been around for the past 15 years. With the advent and proliferation of new technologies (the internet, sms, wikis, social media, etc), engaging citizens has never been easier. But what does this mean for development outcomes? Is there a noticeable difference in the quality, impact, and sustainability of development projects when citizens are involved? And if so, how can we measure this difference?
Throughout this ediscussion, we will be asking you to share your stories of how citizens engagement has work (or not worked); techniques and tools that citizen groups, CSOs, NGOs, villages, and communities, are using to partake in information sharing and decision–making. We will also present and review some new and emerging terms and trends, such as Government 2.0, egovernment, crowdsourcing, wikis, ehealth, mhealth, etc. (We hope you will put forward and share terms that they would like to discuss).
Dr. Hyam Nasahsh states that “Poverty is an obstacle towards getting citizens from these strata to be engaged in the process of decision making and policies, this on the other hand, can be reduced if the government utilized the proper tools to fulfill their basic needs, and thus, empower, raise their awareness, and eliminate the sense of inferiority they have.” This ediscussion will provide a platform for members to share some tools and best practices and collaboratively come to some conclusions about the impact, quality, and overall importance of citizen engagement in achieving better development outcomes.
Please share some of your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on items that you would like to discuss within the context of this ediscussion!
Here are links to some useful resources that help to provide additional background:
IDS WORKING PAPER 347: “So What Difference Does it Make? Mapping the Outcomes of Citizen Engagement”: http://www.drc-citizenship.org/publications/WP347.pdf
The Barcelona Workshop on Engaging Citizens in Development Management & Public Governance for the Achievement MDGs: http://www.unpan.org/ce
“How leadership in digital networks can accelerate civic engagement to achieve the Millennium Development Goal’s” http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpa...
“Towards Human Governance in Public Administration Through Quality of Education” http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpa...
World Bank Open Data: http://data.worldbank.org
“Interactive Planning in Russia as a Framework for Citizens’ Engagement in Development Management” http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-dpadm/unpa...
“Making Decentralized Service Delivery Work in Rwanda: Putting the People at the Center of Service Provision” http://vle.worldbank.org/bnpp/files/TF055370RWANDAmakingdecentraliz...
Embracing Government 2.0: Leading transformative change in the public sector: http://www.scribd.com/doc/28091182/Embracing-Government-2-0-Leading...
It is the first time I see this document; however it sets out some issues that are repeated in other similar documents including the MDGs monitoring report. So thank you very much for that.
In fact I would slightly disagree with you; this document has been very sensitive and honest in regard to the gaps and in turn the challenges that face the south in order to fulfill the MDGs. I am not sure how the implementation of the concept has gone, but I am sure this knowledge could shed some lights on the issues that concern you. In fact this is going to be one of our issues in my organization as we launched the MDGs Action Platform (MAP), and you are more than welcome to visit us if you want to get some information about us, and because the initiative is new, we still have nothing in the website as we are conducting the first situation analysis.
However, I totally agree that the document and its process didn’t provide a platform for participation, and as we both know, even the CPA faced the criticism that it didn’t allow a room for participation. It has been dealt with as pure political exclusive event that include selected group of political parties and thinkers, now we can see the gaps very clear. We both know that there is no involvement for poor in eradication of their poverty. But attention we are dealing with culture of being poor, then you might be more interested in listening to how much others might give you and you- as poor- will be more happy to have that whatever it is. It is double challenge for us to change behavior at two levels for one outcome: increased participation and involvement. Our main challenge was how to reach the poor with that message without making them feel burdened. We’ve succeeded to some extent but we are challenged by the rest of our task.
I have my own criticism towards the international development assistance to the developing countries, which might make some of the countries to be manipulative in the nature of their fundraising efforts. Actually the CSOs are the ones that get frustrated when they approach the development support, do you know that some of the donors consider the CSOs as less sustainable structure and they prefer to invest in supporting governments. Observing the practice, I realized that some of the donors are not very much concerned to see reforms at governance structures and procedures than seeing their budget spent. If the donors or the development assistants are not very careful, this might be an encouragement for the supported governments so they will go on excluding more citizens and CSOs and other actors, they don’t care, they will have the money they want and anybody can write reports. I am recalling cases all over the developing world and it is similar. It is a vicious circle we must be aware of it and we must be clever enough to deal with it, and we must bring strong recommendations for strong actions to improve the situation. Sometimes the CSOs are excluding what so called government NGOs but I think we should let them in at least they can learn. Our aim is contribute to the development and as the ones who support more participative approaches; I would say- as CSOs- we are open to any identity to join us as long as that doesn’t entitle us losing our original identity.
Have a great timeNuha
Hello everyone, I hope you're well!
I just wanted to give you an overview of the discussion on citizen engagement on the English site. Here's a summary of some key points:
Members of the francophone platform participated in a lively debate on the involvement of civil society in public sector management with in the context of achieving the MDGs. This discussion served as a platform for sharing tools and best practices, in order to establish some conclusions about the impact, quality and the overall importance of citizen involvement in achieving better development results. The goal of this online discussion was to gather testimonies from members on how citizen engagement has worked (or not worked); as well as techniques and tools that citizen groups, CSOs, NGOs, villages, and communities, are using to partake in information sharing and decision–making.
The ediscussion was launched online in mid-December 2010 and ended in mid-February 2011. The ediscussion received over 20 contributions from a dozen members from Niger, DRC, Senegal, Cameroon and Madagascar.
Every two to three weeks, a series of questions were brought into the discussion by the facilitator about: the status of citizen engagement in the country; governments trends in terms of a participatory approach and its impact on civil society; tools and techniques used to involve citizens in decision making; the use by NGOs of various RBM tools to implement their programs; the challenges faced by CSOs in terms of monitoring and evaluation (M&E); impact of data and information provided by citizens in decision-making and projects development.
Here are some of the key findings that have generated the most interest from members:
Ø Citizen participation for greater ownership of projects:
According to several members, the fact that citizens have been consulted during a project design and made contributions during its implementation seems to give more results in terms of ownership and therefore sustainability.
In order for citizens to fully participate in a project (here a land office in Madagascar) M. Rakotoariv listed five winning conditions:
1) Explain the project or program and make sure people have a perfect understanding of it;
2) Ensure that the project serves the global interest of the targeted population;
3) Results should be visible in the short and medium term;
4) Transparency should be the norm;
5) Involvement of Government officials in support to the field team or donor should strong.
Also in Madagascar, Mr. Noroseheno talks about two interesting examples in water management and forestry. For him, citizen participation was an important factor for the sustainability of these succesful interventions. The originality of these projects was not only to establish water users associations or community-based forest management in protected areas, but it was mainly to transfer projects management to citizens in the communities where they are located.
Ø Citizen participation is a necessity for achieving PRSPs objectives:
Three quite edifying examples were presented to us from Niger, DRC and Senegal where civil society involvement in the design, implementation and M&E of policies and programs is almost mandatory since transparency and accountability have become requirements to receive international aid.
In these three countries, Thematic Committee were established in which social actors, namely civil society organizations, development associations, women associations, religious, political parties, private sector, are represented and participate in the development, enrichment and validation of the country PRSP. In addition, local authorities adopt a consultative approach in relation to their citizens when it’s time to prepare their budgets and thus reflect people’s needs.
Ø Two levels of participation for citizens:
For there to be a real participation, citizens involvement must be established at two levels:
1. First level: Citizens must participate in defining their priorities and should be responsible for the implementation of planned actions and their evaluation; Government should only play a supporting role.
2. Second level: Citizens’ representatives, including organizations of civil society, must serve the public.They must not answer on behalf of citizens but be real champions of their aspirations. They should not initiate projects for their own profit but direct investments where they are most needed.
For these two levels to interact perfectly and create a momentum for development, Government must provide a needed framework where citizens can express themselves.
Mr. Sani presented a unique experience started in the 70s in Niger, knowed as the national movement of "Samaria". According to him, the ownership by the citizens, through the structures of "Samaria", allowed them to create 3 times more classrooms than would have been possible through the State of Niger’s national budget.
Ø The challenge of monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
Several participants highlighted the difficulties to collect projects data and to transfer them into a national M&E at the country level. The multiplicity of stakeholders (and donors) with their own M&E system often penalizes countries when it comes time to develop effective performance indicators to assess results achievement at the country level. In this regard, by training civil society members on RBM tools for M&E, AfCoPs contribution should be beneficial to a better M&E system at the coutry level.
Thank you for the frequent posts and updates you made on this tread. I appreciate your effort. I have been following and thinking to contribute to the discusions. Unfortunately i was not able to do so as much as i would love to.
But here i think it is high time to say some thing....
As we have been following the recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahirain, Yemen, now Libiya...it shows that something is wrong and has been burning and buried behind the scenes for some time and now has got the time to erupt...
Just to analyse what went in egypt, i have found this article interesting and good to read it. You can find it here.
In many african countries, where dectatorship is deep rooted and human rights, freedom of speach and accountability to citizens and real comiitment for achiving results is not secured this is the clear thing to happen as the recent events shows us, i beleive. And it is a critical call to many leaders of our continent to stop and think criticaly either to change some of their 'poor and ineffective' policeis (economic, political and social) or swept by the current wave of “People Power Revolution”....i think the former is the better or else...
Today we have many african countries who are under the leadership of many dictators, who one or the other deosn't respect the rights of their cictizens, who have the to shoot their people and led them in to deep poverty and crisis. Look at some of the worst of the worst dectators here and see who are from Africa. I remember that i have seen an article very recently that from teh current dictators in teh world out of the ten 7 are from Africa and if i could name teh countries it goes like...Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Egypt, Cameron, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Libiya. Of course we do have a lot of dictators in Africa....see them here ...And of the seven leaders two of them are now gone (Tunis and Egypt) and the third one is on the way to leave office, Libiya, though it seems it is going to be too bloody...
And all these stories show that the time is coming to an end where dectators will rule as they want as the society and specialy the youth are defiant of their freedom and rights...the right for development, freedom of expresion, freedom of association, unity and asking for more accountability and transparency, etc...
In September 2010 many African leaders and politicians with their counter parts from all over the world came to the meeting for the MDG Sumit at the UN MDG summit. In that meeting, the US president, Barack Obama has renewed the commitment of the US Government to work with governments from developping countries that respect human rights, promote good governance, are accountable to their people, and move from authoritarian regime to peace and justice yet he warns some to make sure that they are progresing in the process of democratization and ensuring accountability, hence respect for the rights of the citizens. (read it here). Many were there to hear this and some are now facing it and as time flies by it will even be more clear that the world is now has no place for supresion and violators of human rights. And united we stand against dictators and oppresors, says the world!
For all, my wish and desire is to see Africans achive and benefit from results through good governance and democracy and want to see all of us enjoying the best freedom in the coming five years.
May all African nations be free from supresion and dictatorship and may democracy and good governance flourish from east to west north to south.
First - thank you Tamirat and Wail for your additional thoughts and comments on the current situation in the Middle East. I know we are all waiting anxiously and hoping for a peaceful outcome.
I'd like to share with you the summary of our ediscussion to date. We will be closing this discussion shortly and starting a new one on results based budgeting. Please find below some of the key themes that emerged throughout this discussion.
I look forward to your thoughts and comments!
We The People: Engaging Citizens in Public Sector Management
AfCoP Ediscussion Summary
From mid -December 2010 to mid-February 2011, the African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results hosted an ediscussion on Engaging Citizens in Public Sector Management. The idea of actively engaging citizens in public sector decision making has been around for the past 15 years. With the advent and proliferation of new technologies (the internet, sms, wikis, social media, etc), engaging citizens has never been easier. This ediscussion aimed to uncover what this increased engagement means for development outcomes. Is there a noticeable difference in the quality, impact, and sustainability of development projects when citizens are involved? And if so, can this difference be measured?
To focus of this ediscussion was to ask members whether they believe that“[citizen] engagement emerges as conducive, if not critical, to attaining the MDGs” (UN Report: People Matter: Civic Engagement in Public Governance 2008). To help draw out different ideas, members were asked to share their stories of how citizen engagement has work (or not worked); as well techniques and tools that citizen groups, CSOs, NGOs, villages, and communities, are using to partake in information sharing and decision–making. Overall a wide range of interesting and innovative views were presented from Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Rwanda. In total, the ediscussion received 57 replies from 10 different members. The discussion went a bit off track, however, when members posted many remarks on the ongoing situation in the Arab world, where citizens are protesting for change in their autocratic regimes. Despite these postings, which seemed to take away a bit of momentum from member contribution, members put presented several interesting cases of citizen engagement, in particular:
1. Gacaca Courts in Rwanda: “The Gacaca court is part of a system of community justice inspired by tradition and established in 2001 in Rwanda, in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, when around 1,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsi, were slaughtered. Originally, the Gacaca settled village or familial disputes. The courts were informal means of solving disputes around issues like theft, marital issues, land rights, and property damage. They were constituted as village assemblies, presided by the ancients, where each member of the community could request to speak. The trials were meant to promote reconciliation and justice of the perpetrator in front of family and neighbors. Well-respected elders, known as Inyangamugayo, were elected based on their honesty by the people of the community. Inyangamugayo would assemble all parties to a crime and mediate a resolution involving reparations or some act of contrition. The Gacaca court is thus a system of grassroots legal bodies inspired by tradition power structures.
2. IMIHIGO (Performance Contracts) in Rwanda: Imihigo is a tradition that Rwanda has institutionalized as a means to enhance local government reform and stimulate development. It draws on a long-standing cultural practice in Rwanda whereby two parties publicly commit themselves to the achievement of a particular task. Failing to meet these public commitments leads to dishonor, not only for the individual party but for the community. In the modern day Rwanda, the Imihigo practice was adopted as a tool for planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation to accelerate socio-economic development and poverty reduction. Imihigo has a strong focus on results which makes it an invaluable tool in the planning, accountability and monitoring and evaluation processes. Rwandans embrace Imihigo as a performance tool, following the principles below:
Achievements of Imihigo: Success stories in Rwanda are enormous and obvious to national and international lens. Latest reports indicate remarkable improvement in food security (according to ActionAid 2010 Hunger FREE scorecard report – Rwanda jumped some 6 positions to rank 11), improved competitiveness and innovations by (Global Price Index), environmental management, doing business, to mention but a few. This has been possible because of competitive atmosphere and all-inclusive participation of all actors in local governments through Imihigo approach. Additional achievements include:
As this discusion comes to a conclusion before itis closed let me share with ALL African colleagues what i have got from President Barack Obama's speach to the young African leaders, and you can find the whole text here.
" All right. Let’s see, I’m going to call on this young lady right here.
Q (Speaks in Portuguese and is translated.) Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: That sounds like Portuguese. (Laughter.)
Q It is, indeed, from Mozambique, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
Q Knowing, Mr. President, that, of course, America is a reference point for democracy in the world, and that you, sir, are, indeed a protagonist in that context today, I would love to hear from you, sir, what you would recommend to the young people in Africa and to civil society, in particular, in terms of following principles of nonviolence and good governance and democratic principles in our country. Because, of course, our reality is very often quite starkly different. There are 80 percent abstentionism often in elections, and elections that, indeed, lack transparency. And all too often lead, alas, to social conflict. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say, first of all, that if you are -- just as I said that you can’t separate politics from economics, you can’t separate conflict from development. So the constant conflict, often ethnically-based conflict, that has taken place in Africa is a profound detriment to development and it’s self-reinforcing.
If you have conflict and violence, that scares off investors. That makes it more difficult for business people to create opportunities, which means that young people then don't have work, which means that they are more prone to be recruited in violent conflicts. And you can get a vicious cycle.
So I am a profound believer in not looking at violence as a solution to problems. And I think the moral and ethical power that comes with nonviolence when properly mobilized is profound.
Number two, I think the most important thing that maybe young people here can do is to promote the values of openness, transparency, honest debate, civil disagreements within your own groups and your own organizations, because that forms good habits. If you are part of an organization -- and I’m going to speak to the men here, in particular -- if you are part of an organization where you profess democracy but women don't have an equal voice in your organization, then you're a hypocrite, right? And that is something that -- (applause.) And that is something that we have to be honest about. Oftentimes, women are not getting the same voice in African countries, despite the fact that they are carrying more than their fair share of burdens.
So within your own organizations, within your own networks, modeling good democratic practices, listening to people who you disagree with respectfully, making sure that everybody gets a seat at the table -- all those things I think are very important.
Because part of what I’m going to -- what I’m hoping for is that some of you will end up being leaders of your country some day. And if you think about it, back in the 1960s, when all these -- your grandparents, great-grandparents were obtaining independence, fighting for independence, the first leaders, they all said they were for democracy. And then what ends up happening is you’ve been in power for a while and you say, well, I must be such a good ruler that it is for the benefit of the people that I need to stay here. And so then you start changing the laws, or you start intimidating and jailing opponents. And pretty soon, young people just like yourself -- full of hope and promise -- end up becoming exactly what they fought against.
So one of the things that I think everybody here has to really internalize is the notion that -- I think it was Gandhi who once said you have to be the change that you seek. You have to be the change that you seek. And one of the wonderful things about the United States is that in my position as President there oftentimes where I get frustrated, I think I know more than some of my critics. And yet, we have institutionalized the notion that those critics have every right to criticize me, no matter how unreasonable I think they may be. And I have to stand before the people for an election, and I’m limited to two terms -- it doesn’t matter how good a job I do. And that’s good, because what that means is that we’ve got to -- we’ve instituted a culture where the institutions of democracy are more important than any one individual.
And, now, it’s not as if we’re perfect. Obviously, we’ve got all kinds of problems as well. But what it does mean is that the peaceful transfer of power and the notion that people always have a voice -- our trust in that democratic process is one that has to be embraced in all your countries as well."
Freedom for all is the essence of development and in doing so the cictizens engagment will be enahanced and the beneficiries will be all.
Yeah as you said we, the people from the Nile Basin have so many dictators in teh past and in the current times. Well time is coimg for them either to change or got changed. It is time to chose between the two.
But the question we have for our African leaders in our countries( Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sundan, Libiya, Egypt, Tunisai, Uganda, Kenya, Ivory cost, equatorial guine, Angola, Cameron...just fewe to mention) or in other neighbourig countries is that...do you have got to say..."it doesn’t matter how good a job I do. And that’s good, because what that means is that we’ve got to -- we’ve instituted a culture where the institutions of democracy are more important than any one individual. " as President Obama said?