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the future of citizen engagement: recommendations for implementing effective feedback initiatives occidental college task force on citizen accountability Chloe Azria, Chandler Hill, Caya Johnson Steve Luu, Cholpon Ramizova Christina Seyfried & Angela Soley


The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives 1

Acknowledgments

We would like to extend special thanks to the following individuals who generously spoke with us about their respective programs and initiatives. We appreciate your valuable insight. This analysis would not have been possible without your inputs. Samadhan | India Praveen Kumar G., VSO India, Programme Manager Citizen Voice and Action | Uganda Jeff Hall, Director, Local Advocacy at World Vision International Mobile Ivano-Frankivsk | Ukraine Olena Ursu , Project Manager, EU and UNDP Project / "Smart Practices for Oversight by NonState Actors on Administrative Service Provision" My Municipality | Macedonia Vesna Dzuteska Bisheva, Head of Social Inclusion Unit, UNDP FYR Macedonia Suzana Ahmeti Janjic, Programme Associate, UNDP FYR Macedonia Jasmina Belcovska Tasevska, UN Coordination Officer a.i./ UNDP Social Innovation Specialist FYR Macedonia U Report | Uganda Moses Engadu, Director, Resource Mobilization & Capacity Building, The Uganda Scouts Association Cidade Democrรกtica | Brazil Rodrigo Bandiera de Luna, CEO of Cidade Democrรกtica and Executive Director of Instituto Seva

Occidental College | Los Angeles, California We would also like to thank Douglas Gardner, Director of The William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program at Occidental College for his guidance and support throughout the research process.

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Contents

Executive Summary

3

Introduction

5

Conceptual Framework

6

Methodology

7

Case Studies

9

Matrix

12

The Six Success Formulae

13

Analysis: Lessons Learned

14

Timing

14

Partnerships & Engagement

15

Enabling Environment

16

Sustainability

18

Outreach

18

Funding

20

Conclusions & Recommendations

22

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Executive Summary The current report will analyze citizen accountability initiatives from around the globe. Our survey includes those that utilized both tech and non-tech platforms as methods for data collection and service delivery, with particular emphasis on feedback mechanisms at the local level. Throughout the research process, we paid particular attention to the importance of citizen voice and government accountability. The theoretical backdrop of this report is informed by two key concepts: voice and teeth. Voice is citizen feedback and advocacy that is received at national and regional levels of governance. Teeth is characterized by government capacity to respond to voice through feedback and/or tangible policy. We used these concepts to determine success factors, with the aim of providing recommendations and assessing ‘best practices’ in the field of citizen feedback. After the initiatives were analyzed, findings were categorized into six key “lessons learned”: Timing can have a large impact on success. If used correctly, it can provide momentum for citizen and stakeholder engagement. Timing can mean using a certain political moment as a catalyst for outreach, advocacy and change. Timing also has the capacity to give leaders and policy-makers incentive to act. Partnerships and engagement with relevant stakeholders such as IOs and CSOs provide initiatives with credibility. Engagement of citizens, NGOs, community leaders and other actors also adds value to the initiative, which

ensures multi- stakeholder buy-in and longterm sustainability. The Enabling Environment is another significant factor that can contribute to an initiative’s success. Strong and accessible legal and public institutions, citizen engagement in advocacy, open and responsive governments and access to technological platforms are key factors that allow for successful project implementation. Sustainability must be at the forefront of a citizen accountability initiative’s mandate to guarantee its long-term impact and effectiveness. Factors that are needed for sustainability include: the initiative’s perceived value to stakeholders; citizen buy-in and engagement; institutionalization of the initiative at the community level; and monitoring & evaluation to ensure an initiative’s efficacy over time. In order to maximize Outreach, citizen accountability initiatives must use accessible and easy-to-use technology or locally-owned media platforms. We also found that using both tech and non-tech mechanisms widened the project’s reach. Outreach methods should also provide citizens with information on their rights and responsibilities and give them safe spaces in which to voice their concerns. Funding must be consistent and guaranteed, regardless of the number of donors. Funding from external sources is not a must, as some governments are able to allocate funding from their own budgets.

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These findings then informed our set of nine conclusions and recommendations:

1. Government buy-in and support is essential to ensure that citizen feedback is translated into change 2. All partners must receive value from the initiative 3. Existing civil society networks and partnerships are essential for effective outreach 4. The timing of a citizen feedback initiative launch impacts its success 5. An option of anonymity will allow for more candid citizen feedback 6. Technology must be easy-to-use, accessible and functional 7. Outreach must use many mediums of communication, including both tech and non-tech platforms 8. Initiatives must find ways to include marginalized populations 9. Target communities must be informed of their rights and responsibilities

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Introduction

With the 15 year anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaching, the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has called for the need to harness the data revolution in order to realize the post-2015 development agenda.

It is now well understood that accountability is vital for improved governance. Direct civic engagement is needed to further this concept of accountability, and as demonstrated in the post-2015 negotiations, embedding participation as a principle in the new development agenda will help improve the quality and efficacy of policies over time.

Traditional citizen surveys, such as censuses, have been shown to lack accuracy and efficiency, creating gaps between data collection and service delivery. Through our research, we have identified ways in which these initiatives can be improved in order to amplify citizen voice and provide incentives for policymakers and stakeholders to deliver on their promises.

In this report, we will be evaluating citizen accountability initiatives from various communities around the globe. Using our two self-designed matrices, we will compare and contrast these existing mechanisms to determine key factors of success. An in-depth analysis of these initiatives will provide key lessons learned in six areas: timing, partnerships & engagement, enabling environment, sustainability, outreach, and funding. These findings will then inform our nine recommendations for the implementation of inclusive, effective and sustainable citizen feedback mechanisms to effectively realize the post-2015 development goals.

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Conceptual Framework In this report, we approached the selection and analysis of our case studies by utilizing a strategic, qualitative approach. Strategic approaches to citizen accountability initiatives are defined by enabling environments that bolster collective action. A theoretical framework consisting of two key aspects underpins the strategic approach: voice and teeth. Voice is citizen voice and advocacy from the local level that is received at the regional and national levels (i.e. social movements). Voice is ineffective in implementing change if it lacks grounded institutional and governmental support. Teeth is the governmental capacity to respond to voice. Teeth amplify citizen voice, as government support can translate aspirations into tangible results and effective, practical policy. By having a balanced synergy between these two concepts, citizen accountability initiatives can bridge the gap between citizens and the state. To further this idea, we will be looking at three types of social accountability that build upon the above concepts: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal accountability. Vertical accountability refers to political accountability between citizens and their elected representatives. Horizontal accountability refers to mutual oversight embedded in an institution of checks and balances within the government. Diagonal accountability involves direct citizen engagement in government institutions, consisting of either participation in or direct management of oversight bodies. The mutually reinforcing “accountability sandwich� below illustrates the relationship between citizens and policy makers.

POLICY MAKERS Citizens engaged and willing to provide feedback

Policy makers committed to respond and act on feedback

CITIZENS

When policy makers see that their constituents are engaged, they are politically motivated to respond to feedback. By the same token, when citizens see that their feedback is translated into action, they are incentivized to provide more feedback.

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Methodology To accurately assess ‘best practices’ in the field of initiatives that incorporate citizen feedback into policy and service delivery at the local and national levels, we first surveyed a broad range of initiatives across all geographical regions. In our initial evaluations, we selected three case studies from each region that best display different methods of mobilizing citizen voice for a variety of community needs. We then applied an analytical framework to each case study, exploring the dimensions of financing, scale, technology use, partnerships, and sustainability, among others. After comparing the results of our research, we chose twelve case studies that best represent: the needs that citizen accountability mechanisms have aimed to address; the innovative methods that many initiatives have employed; and the environmental, technological, and financial obstacles that they have confronted. Once the case studies were chosen, we devised a matrix from which we could deduce lessons learned that would allow us, as well as our readers, to visually compare the purposes, designs and pitfalls. Throughout our analytical process, we conducted interviews with individuals involved in our selected programs.

We discovered that citizen feedback initiatives utilized a wide variety of mechanisms to achieve the goal of incorporating citizen voice into policy and service delivery. In our research we found that most mechanisms could be classified into three categories:

Policy opinion polls that allow citizens to select their policy priorities.

Community dialogue and advocacy strategies that use offline workshops and community forums to advocate for a specific policy change or demand the delivery of a promised service. Interactive technology platforms that allow citizens to report or comment on service delivery and/or policy over SMS, a phone line, or an online platform. It is important to note that some initiatives used multiple mechanisms. Initiatives that utilized interactive technology platforms almost always complemented their platform with an offline component, such as community workshops.

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Below are the initiatives which we investigated in order to form our findings and recommendations:

Initiative

Location

Mechanism

Intent

My Municipality

Macedonia

Policy Opinion Poll

Policy Input

Participatory Budgeting

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Policy Opinion Poll

Policy Input (Budgetary)

Citizen Voice and Action

Uganda

HakiElimu Campaign

Tanzania

Community Media Network

Jordan

Cidade Democratica

Brazil

U Report

Uganda

Mobile IvanoFrankivsk

Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

System 48

Indjija, Serbia

Tell MAMA

UK

Samadhan

Sehore, Koraput & Karalandi, India

Community Dialogue and Advocacy Community Dialogue and Advocacy Community Dialogue and Advocacy Interactive Technology Platform Interactive Technology Platform/Policy Opinion Poll Interactive Technology Platform Interactive Technology Platform Interactive Technology Platform Interactive Technology Platform

Bogot谩 C贸mo Vamos

Colombia

Policy Opinion Poll

Policy Input and Service Delivery Policy Action and Service Delivery Policy Input

Policy input

Policy Input and Service Delivery

Service Delivery

Service Delivery

Service Delivery (Crime Reporting) Service Delivery Policy input and service delivery

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Case Studies U Report Uganda Launched in 2011 by UNICEF and Ugandan civil society, U Report is an interactive and free SMS platform which allows youth to “report” to government agencies, ministers of parliament, and NGOs by answering polls and questions. The Scouts in Uganda played a pivotal role in U Report outreach by utilizing their vast networks within civil society and government. The Scouts run the civil society steering committee, which decides which questions will be sent to the U Reporters. UNICEF has provided consistent funding and developed the technology (RapidSMS) – a dashboard which allows for the sorting of incoming texts and the responding to texts. IBM partnered with UNICEF to develop an artificial intelligence system which sorts the reports and sends them to relevant groups to respond. U Report Uganda has over 269,000 reporters with a 25% response rate. The U Report model has been replicated in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Mali, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Participatory Budgeting Belo Horizonte, Brazil Since 1993 the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil has allocated a portion of its budget to a participatory budgeting process every two years which allows citizens to choose public works projects which will be undertaken with the allocated budget. From 1993 to 2006 this involved several stages of open community meetings and did not enjoy widespread participation. In 2006 the city added an e-participatory budgeting platform which allowed citizens to vote on priorities online and at numerous physical voting stations around the city. This has increased the participation rate from 1.46% for traditional participatory budgeting to 9.98% of the electorate, and managed to increase

the participation of the most marginalized groups.

Cidade Democratica Brazil Launched in 2009 by Seva Institute, Cidade Democratica is a web platform which allows users across Brazil (citizen, businesses, public managers, parliamentarians, social movements, conferences, and NGOs) to document problems, propose solutions, and discuss proposals in an online forum space. The site also runs contests for creative problem-solving ideas submitted by citizens. There are currently over 1,600 users with a very high participation – some forums have thousands of participants with hundreds of solutions proposed. It is active across Brazil, but some areas have seen more buy-in than others. For example, many of the most active discussions focus on the city of Jundiaí in Sao Paulo. Cidade Democratica partners with Avina, IBM, the Omidyar Network and the Brazil Foundation.

HakiElimu Tanzania HakiElimu is a civil society organization in Tanzania that works to ensure that not only all country’s children go to school but that all of them also receive high-quality basic education. In 2004, the campaign partnered with the Tanzania Teachers’ Union to survey teachers on their living and working conditions. In addition, they also used radio spots and produced and distributed 44 popular publications to educate the public and foster debate on the problems in Tanzania’s school system. In 2005, the government issued an interdict against HakiElimu and banned the organization from activities in schools. This in fact helped

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raise public awareness until representatives of HakiElimu met with the Prime Minister and Education Minister in February 2007. After the discussions, the Education Minister lifted the ban on HakiElimu, increased the minimum wage for teachers, whose salaries have been paid on time since then. The number of teachers employed in primary schools, the number of government primary schools and the number of secondary schools also increased.

System 48 Serbia The city-municipality of Indjija, Serbia implemented System 48 in 2003 in order to improve government accountability and service delivery. Citizens are able to use telephone, SMS, email or make a personal visit to the Citizen Assistance Center to submit requests. The System is entirely funded and maintained by the municipality. In the past decade, 50,000 requests have been received, 90% of which were successfully resolved. Requests have also led to policy changes; public officials have removed illegal waste dumps, reorganized city lighting, improved the system of electricity fee collection and have installed an automated public parking system.

Samadhan India Samadhan operates in three districts in India: Koraput, Sehore, and Karalundi. It is an internet-based platform that allows citizens to demand and track service entitlements guaranteed under national and state government schemes. For widespread access, a concerned citizen can send a text message, call a toll-free number or visit the District Collector’s Office. To include marginalized people, Samadhan utilizes local media (primarily radio) and civil society networks for outreach. UNMC partnered with civil society organizations (VSO/SOVA in Koraput and Samarthan in Sehore) to launch Samadhan in 2011. This partnership was essential because UN

legitimacy increased government buy-in. The platform has received over 4,000 complaints in Koraput with a 53% resolution rate. This success inspired CSO Seba Jagat to replicate the platform in their neighboring district, Karalandi. Since its launch three months ago, Karalandi has resolved 37% of its 622 complaints. Samadhan has struggled to find sustainable funding and consistent government support since UNMC’s departure in 2013.

World Vision: CVA Uganda Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) is a citizen accountability program conducted by World Vision (WV). Its program aims to increase transparency of national benchmarks in order to give citizens the opportunity to make demands at the local level. The CVA program in Uganda is WV’s most successful initiative; it has statistically lessened teacher absenteeism and improved student test results. The CVA model seeks out interested community leaders to act as facilitators; urges facilitators conduct community meetings to educate citizens on national benchmarks; uses scorecards to prioritize issues; and conducts advocacy campaigns to pressure politicians and district officials to allocate appropriate funds. CVA has also made it possible for citizens to influence national budget allocation. WV has partnered with other citizen accountability initiatives such as U Report to amplify citizen voice. WV is currently trying to improve its CVA program by developing a tech platform to streamline activities.

Bogotá Cómo Vamos Colombia Launched in 1998 by the Corona Foundation, El Tiempo Publishing House, la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, Bogotá Cómo Vamos is an annual quality of life assessment that surveys citizens to determine quality of life indicators. The organization also holds public Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


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workshops and forums on issues around the city. It publishes this information on its website and shares information about the activities inside the city council. The Cómo Vamos model has been replicated in 10 cities across Colombia, and also in Lima, Peru, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tell MAMA United Kingdom Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) is a platform through which UK residents may report and seek help after experiencing or witnessing an anti-Muslim attack. Given the UK’s high prevalence of Internet connectivity, Tell MAMA allows victims and witnesses to report attacks over email, SMS, phone, Facebook and Twitter. When a report is received, Tell MAMA adds the attack to a map, which allows police departments to track attacks and monitor high-risk areas. Additionally, Tell MAMA contacts the witness or victim and refers them to formal support services. Originally supported with government funding, Tell MAMA now utilizes its 20 partnerships with a variety of police departments, cultural organizations and activist groups to continue its outreach to Muslim communities in the UK.

Community Media Network Jordan Community Media Network (CMN) was first established in 2000 as a locally based radio station in Jordan. The station, which is locally owned, provides an alternative to international and state-owned new sources. The content created from CMN and its affiliate stations exclusively covers local issues from local sources. The station also gives community members the opportunity to provide feedback and input on matters important to them. This model has amplified citizen voice considerably, particularly because mainstream and state-run media networks traditionally neglect to

report on matters deemed controversial. Consistent funding and technical support for CMN came from UNESCO and organizations such as the British Council and the Open Society Institute.

Mobile Ivano-Frankivsk Ukraine The city-municipality of IvanoFrankivsk launched its mobile app in January 2014, a platform designed to improve government transparency. The app not only provides users with an opportunity to submit requests, but gives citizens access to municipality laws and information on administrative services. Direct phone lines of city officials are also listed. The UN Regional Anti-Corruption Project allocated a seed grant to the municipality to assist in the development of the app. The local municipality is responsible for its maintenance and funding.

My Municipality Macedonia Launched in May 2014, My Municipality is a policy opinion poll modeled after the MY World survey, currently operating in four municipalities in Macedonia. Using a touch- screen platform, citizens are asked to select their top three priorities from a list of local issues and policies. The initiative has partnered with CSOs and NGOs and receives small-scale funding from UNDP. The survey has thus far been successful in receiving feedback from citizens of various ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds.

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Matrix Key Lessons Learned In order to be able to conduct a cross-campaign analysis of lessons learned, we constructed two matrices that display “campaign characteristics” and “campaign successes”. The Campaign Characteristics Matrix focuses on six key elements:

1. Purpose of the campaign: policy change, request for or change of service delivery 2. Use of Technology 3. Scale: local, regional, national 4. Funding 5. Engagement 6. Enabling Environment The Campaign Successes Matrix measures success on five different fronts:

1. Population: in terms of how many were reached and whether the vulnerable were included 2. Technical Platform: whether it was successful in reaching marginalized populations and does not require consistent curation 3. Funding Sustainability 4. Government Response/Feedback 5. Campaign Sustainability

For each of our twelve campaigns, we filled out the first matrix on characteristics according to the campaign’s applicability. The second matrix was then filled using the same method. We looked at the success areas in the second matrix and identified the case studies that had accomplished these successes, and analyzed what characteristics these cases shared with each other. Finally, we summarized the characteristics that seem to be critical in accomplishing each of the six success areas in the formulae below.

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Enhancing the Effectiveness of Citizen Engagement: The Six Success Formulae*

Vibrant CSOs

Initiated by gov’t

Service delivery & policy change

Engaged existing networks

Active local media

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

Vulnerable reached

Urban and rural

Active local media

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

Response to citizen feedback

Urban and rural

Initiated by gov’t

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

Services requested and delivered

Urban

Active local media

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

Feedback translated into action

Urban and rural

Long-term funding

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

Sustainability

Urban and rural

Active local media

Used tech and nontech platforms

Multistakeholde rs

SUCCESS

*The first five formulae list the major trends- or ingredients- that are essential in achieving the following goals: inclusion of the vulnerable, response to citizen feedback, delivery of requested services, translation of feedback into action and sustainability. These five goals, in turn, are key ingredients for overall success in a citizen engagement initiative.

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Analysis: Lessons Learned Timing The political timing of a citizen feedback initiative launch has an impact on its ability to engage citizens and impact policy and/or service delivery. When an initiative is launched in a moment of political change it will likely capture a wave of popular engagement in policy and politics, whether on the local, regional or national level. The timing of an initiative launch can simplify the process of engaging both citizens and policy makers and gaining initial outreach and buy-in. For example, U Report in Uganda launched directly following parliamentary election – this initiative took advantage of the public’s post-election mood of political engagement and provided citizens with a new means to participate in national and local policy. This post-election launch also caught the attention of parliamentarians as they needed to make positive first impressions on their constituents. Similarly, Community Media Network in Jordan launched and was active during a period of reform and democratization in Jordan, capturing the attention of citizens in a moment of public interest in the political process. The timing of an initiative can also contribute to how citizen feedback is transformed into action and change. CVA in Uganda launched prior to a large national budgetary decision, providing it with an opportunity to improve education service delivery. The initiative’s citizendriven advocacy successfully impacted budget allocation for education. Community Media Network in Jordan was not only able to take advantage of a newly liberalized media regime, but also was able to successfully advocate for policies that further increased legal freedom of expression and participation.

Maintaining Engagement: Sustainability Creating Engagement: Outreach Project Initiation

Project initiation is most effective if the initiative is launched at a moment when citizens are feeling politically engaged and policy makers are hoping to prove themselves to their constituents.

Engagement can be achieved through civil society networks and media and/or person-to-person outreach. Technology should function well and be easy-to-use. When citizen feedback is received, it needs to be acknowledged in a timely fashion.

Sustainability is possible if citizens receive value from the initiative and see their feedback consistently translated into action. It also hinges upon government buy-in and consistent, guaranteed funding.

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Partnerships & Engagement Technological innovations are providing citizen feedback initiatives with new avenues through which to engage citizens with each other, their governments and their service providers. In addition to classic modes of communication- such as radio and letter writing- increasing public access to communications technologies such as SMS, email and social media can facilitate governments in serving their people and increasing inclusivity in communities. While innovative initiatives can facilitate communication between people and their governments, it is incumbent upon policy makers to recognize the value of these opportunities and take full advantage of them. Government buy-in is imperative to an initiative’s success. When government buy-in took the form of financial investment in the initiative, we found that governments were more receptive to feedback and more willing to translate this feedback into change. For instance, Community Media Network (CMN) in Jordan has proven to be an asset to both citizens and legislators. CMN’s programming has kept citizens informed by providing a platform for two-way dialogue on politics, development and social issues. For legislators, supporting CMN increases their political capital because they are able to use CMN to garner the trust of their constituents. In Brazil, Cidade Democratica took a similarly strategic role by targeting particular legislators that showed interest in the initiative. By enlisting the involvement of policy makers who were already receptive to the pilot, Cidade Democratica was able to forge communication channels between citizens and the government and assist citizens in framing proposals that were easily translatable into action. Similarly, Tell MAMA’s close partnerships with law enforcement have allowed victims to report attacks- and law enforcement has been better able to serve areas where citizens are particularly vulnerable. Full government participation is not only possible, but has proven to increase trust between citizens and government. The initiatives we analyzed in Ukraine, Serbia and Macedonia were all initiated and managed by the municipality government. Consistency is vital for sustainability. Samadhan found their momentum to be seriously impaired by the District Collector’s six-month rotation cycle, given that the initiative had to rebuild its rapport every six months with a new District Collector that may or may not be very receptive to the program. To maintain a consistent partnership with the government, citizen feedback initiatives have to exercise political tact. For instance, CMN maintained relationships with rural, municipal and national lawmakers, which reinforced the initiative’s utility and legitimacy at all levels of society. Additionally, CMN maintained a dialogue of constructive criticism rather than opposition, preventing powerful lawmakers from eliminating popular, constructive and legitimized programming. Partnerships with international and civil society organizations can strengthen communication and broaden audience. Utilizing the funding and connections of internationally recognized organizations granted legitimacy to certain initiatives. For instance, U Report utilized Uganda’s prominent scouting network to promote peer-to-peer outreach and forge more trusting relationships with lawmakers who were former scouts. Similarly, all Samadhan initiatives partnered with volunteer-based local civil society organizations. For Samadhan, a large volunteer base was important for reaching rural areas and supporting marginalized people who did not have access to modern technology.

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Tell MAMA similarly partnered with a variety of civil society organizations, which widened their reach, strengthened their support, and also sent a message of inclusivity. Tell MAMA partnered with numerous mosques, foundations, anti-hate crime CSOs and LGBT organizations that, in addition to fostering a diverse audience and support network, established a spirit of solidarity with other marginalized communities. In some instances, tapping into the networks local NGOs are the only way to broaden audience. In the case of My Municipality in Macedonia, partnerships with local organizations proved to be vital in reaching vulnerable communities in the municipality. Citizen feedback initiatives can benefit from partnering with UN agencies. Citizen feedback initiatives have also benefited from partnerships with UN agencies. For instance, Samadhan’s partnership with UNMC helped the organization garner attention from the government. Unfortunately, when UNMC’s funding ceased, Samadhan had difficulty drawing the government’s attention. CMN’s partnerships with UN organizations have had more sustainable results. In its initial stages, CMN partnered with UNESCO and UNIFEM, which strengthening its leverage in advocating for community-owned radio as an asset for democracy. This partnership also benefited UNESCO, which used the radio platform to raise awareness about social issues, public health, and development. In a similar vein, the citizens of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine were more eager to engage with a UN- sponsored initiative because of the organization’s alreadyestablished presence on the ground.

Enabling Environment Cultural and social characteristics of a community can make or break any citizen accountability initiative. It is thus important to gauge the conduciveness of the host atmosphere before launching a project. The key factors for an enabling environment for citizen feedback programs are: accessible and strong legal and public institutions; a citizen population willing to engage in advocacy; a government open and responsive to public participation and critique; and affordable access to internet, phones and social media platforms. Citizen feedback initiatives rely on accessible and strong legal public institutions. Information and data from statistical agencies, education and health ministries- among othersare used by citizen feedback organizations to identify corruption, inequalities or interruptions of government services. However, these organizations face key challenges. Not all countries have institutions with proper monitoring and review systems or statistical data mechanisms. In cases where government institutions are able to collect appropriate information and data, this information is seldom provided to the public. Furthermore, if factual data and information are in indeed provided, the legal architecture of a country may not be robust enough for recourse. This undermines an organization’s ability to hold a government accountable. For instance, lack of strong government monitoring or statistical data collection was problematic for the Water and Sanitation Program in India. Without data on water, sanitation services and maintenances the program could not make a compelling case for better upkeep of utilities. An example of the positive impact of accessible and strong public and legal institution is the case of World Vision’s Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) program in Uganda. Although access to national provisions and standards were available, citizens were unaware of these laws. CVA was able to

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bridge this gap by educating communities about these national standards. Once Ugandans knew of the gaps in government services, they were able to successfully lobby for better implementation of these provisions and services. The lobbying forced the Ugandan government to realize it was not meeting its national standards. Citizens must be willing to engage in advocacy. Citizen feedback programs cannot succeed unless citizens are ready to engage with their governments. Most often, citizens are unlikely to engage due to distrust, fear and opposition. Distrust was in inhibitor to Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. The government launched a mobile app for citizens to register complaints and have easy access to national laws. Citizen skepticism, however, has resulted in very few downloads. Distrust has made it difficult for the municipality to receive feedback from its citizens. The Samadhan case study illustrated the importance of understanding citizen distrust. Samadhan realized that citizens were unwilling to provide complaints because they were fearful of government retaliation. In response, the initiative offered an option for anonymity so that citizens felt comfortable registering complaints. This option proved to be successful and increased citizen participation. We also found that citizen accountability initiatives were largely unsuccessful in cases where citizens took a retaliatory approach in their interactions with the government. In the case of Cidade Democratica, program managers had difficulties with citizens who used their forum to denounce the state. Due to its investment in changing public attitudes and maintaining cooperation with government officials, Cidade Deomcratica was able to shift perceptions to make its forum more constructive. In the same vein, governments must be responsive to public participation and critique. Projects that are not initiated by the government depend on cooperative relationships between managers and high-ranking government officials. In the case of HakiElimu, both high-ranking officials’ support and the maintenance of relationships with managers were crucial. When the Kenyan government banned HakiElimu from its activities, the public responded by increasing their support for the organization. Due to widespread discontent with the government ban, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education became aware of HakiElimu and its activities. A new legislative policy was eventually enacted that met some of the demands of the organization. Citizens must have affordable access to technology platforms. Projects like Mobile IvanoFrankivsk in Ukraine and System 48 in Serbia ensured that citizens had reliable access to phone, SMS, mobile apps and social media platforms. U Report’s success in Uganda, Nigeria, Burundi and Zambia was equally attributed to the accessible, user-friendly SMS and phone technology. However, tech platforms must be used with the understanding that not all citizens will have access to these platforms. Women, the elderly and other marginalized populations often lack capabilities to use technology. Initiatives using tech platforms must consider these vulnerabilities.

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Sustainability Moving accountability initiatives into the realm of citizen engagement has proven to be difficult. Government leaders- and at times citizens themselves- are often reluctant to invest time and resources to programs that have yet to gain ground and legitimacy. Governments also tend to be cautious because citizen feedback projects often hold them to a higher degree of accountability. This section will analyze the essential components that contribute to an initiative’s success and longevity. Stakeholders must receive value from citizen accountability initiatives. U Report in Uganda not only enhanced citizen engagement, but also created value by giving voice to government partners, parliamentarians and NGOs. The initiative disseminated up-to-date, concrete data. Parliamentarians began to use this information to start debates within government circles. This provided the government and key stakeholders with incentive to respond to citizen feedback. Societal buy-in is crucial for project success. Societal buy-in creates the potential for these initiatives to become institutionalized through their alignment with cultural and societal values of the community at hand. Once an initiative becomes institutionalized, its presence is further reinforced due to the value it creates in a community. Once this this achieved, the community itself will sustain the initiative. In Jordan, Community Media Network (CMN) integrated community-led radio programming to such an extent that communities now see radio and the CMN as an inherent part of their culture and livelihood. A project cannot be sustained without monitoring and evaluation. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strengthens stakeholder engagement. Both Belo Horizonte Participatory Budgeting and Bogota Como Vamos integrate monitoring and evaluation in their programming. Although M&E is essential for sustainability, it is only effective if governments and policymakers respond by providing services or changing policy. As such, there is a need for effective systems of checks and balances that hold governments and institutions accountable to their citizens.

Outreach The crux of a citizen feedback initiative is the mechanism that transmits citizen voice directly to those in power. For many initiatives this is a technology such as SMS or an online platform, but other projects are offline using personal outreach. Many successful initiatives engaged with the local media and local civil society organizations to amplify the political power of the results. The key is to know the community well enough to know which mechanisms will reach all community members, especially the poor and marginalized. Initiatives must combine both tech and non-tech mechanisms in order to reach all members of society. The poor and marginalized are often excluded from decision-making. Most do not have access to phones, computers and other forms of technology. As such, mechanisms such as personal outreach, surveys and polls, score cards, community dialogue, and advocacy are necessary.

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


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Personal outreach is especially useful for raising awareness about the platform. Before launching their campaign, Samadhan sent over 100 volunteers to villages around the district to campaign for the project; they advertised with posters and handed out fliers at festivals. Many any initiatives also utilize interactive tech platforms such as hotlines, SMS, email, web, radio and social media to disseminate data in real time. Such methods allow for more rapid problem solving. In this respect, Samadhan also managed to overcome geographic barriers by using SMS, radio and web technology to reach the marginalized. In Jordan, where many poor people do not have access to a phone or computer, Community Media Network (CMN) and the government advocated for the establishment of radio networks in rural communities. Radio is particularly efficient and cost effective at reaching poor rural communities that have little mobile and web access. The most successful projects utilize multiple mediums of communication and employ both tech and non tech methosd. For example, Cidade Democratica created workshops to enable marginalized communities to create proposals, which were then submitted through the web platform. Similarly, System 48 in Serbia gives its citizens the opportunity to voice their complaints via email or SMS, on the phone or in person. A range of technology ensures widespread access along with fast data dissemination. Mechanisms must be designed based off of intimate knowledge of the community and the culture. This includes knowledge of gender norms, literacy rates the relationship between citizens and government. Initiatives must also be aware of the most widely-used technologies in their target community. Twitter, for instance, was chosen as a platform in Tell MAMA due to its popularity with users. Many initiatives understand marginalization in terms of income and geography, but neglect gender, and literacy. In rural villages in India, it is not unusual for a male family member to own the only phone in the household. In these cases, SMS platforms would likely exclude women, youth, the elderly and the illiterate. Relying on dominant groups to speak on behalf of the vulnerable can yield dangerous results. Issues of domestic violence and child abuse would likely not be communicated. As such, citizen accountability mechanisms must allow each individual citizen to directly communicate feedback. Safe, inclusive spaces are needed for citizen participation. This can be provided with options for anonymity, legal protection, and cultural acceptance. Because corruption is a major issue in India, for instance, many people did not participate in Samadhan. Community Media Network (CMN) also highlighted the need for legal protection due to the very public nature of radio broadcasting. Conversely, U Report created a safe space for citizens to voice their concerns, which resulted in a vibrant culture of feedback. Public awareness of rights and existing laws is essential. Samadhan educated citizens on their rights as an initial step in the implementation process. Mobile Ivano-Frankivsk integrated rights education into their tech platform, so that citizens are able to refer to municipality laws and regulations on their phones without having to consult a government official. CVA Uganda also monitors and reviews national benchmarks and educates communities on what provisions and standards should be provided by government services. With the help of community advocacy training, communities are able to exert pressure on the national government to provide the appropriate funding for services.

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives 20

Successful projects focused on locally owned forms of media and utilized existing civil society networks. Many initiatives used newspapers, radio and television to spread word about the initiative. Cidade Democratica, Bogota Como Vamos, U Report, Community Media Network and Samadhan all recognized that citizens were more tuned in to local media. U Report Uganda utilized existing CSO networks- such as the Scouts- to encourage people to respond to polls and requests for reports. Tell MAMA partnered with law enforcement and CSOs, who provided support by classifying attacks, mapping incidences and referring victims to police or legal or counseling services. Using existing civil society networks enhances technology, engages more citizens and saves resources. Technology must be easy-to-use, accessible, and function consistently. If technology is complicated or subject to malfunctions, citizens are unlikely to remain engaged. U Report made SMS polling more accessible by making U Reporting free for users; UNICEF negotiated a reduced rate with the main telecom company and paid the monthly bill for all reports submitted. Cidade Democratica and U Report both made use of artificial intelligence to sort responses on their platforms to help them function better. CMN also chose technology based on what would be most convenient for its users: radio. Convenience is also important; successful projects make participation effortless and hassle-free. Initiatives like System 48 function 24 hours per day, seven days per week in order to remain accessible to citizens. Citizens are more likely to remain engaged if they receive a response and see their feedback translating into action and change. Many tech platforms send an automatic response text when they receive a report. To keep citizens engaged in the process, Samadhan sends one message when the response is being processed and another when the issue has been resolved. Cidade Democratica allows users to propose solutions to problems in communities. In this kind of model, users feel personally engaged in the creation of policy, resulting in positive interactions with governance structures. System 48 has been particularly successful because the departments and bureaus responsible for service delivery are required to update citizens on the status of their requests within 48 hours.

Funding Social accountability initiatives cannot succeed without proper funding. They require expertise, time and money in order to be sustainably maintained. The initiatives we analyzed displayed varied funding methods and strategies. Some were sustained financially by the government itself, while others relied on crowd-sourced funding and assistance from international organizations. Although the initiatives were both diverse in their funding and varied in their composition, we found that they were generally successful as long as the funding was consistent and guaranteed. Citizen accountability initiatives can be sustainable with or without government funding. System 48, a citizen feedback initiative that has been operating for more than ten years in Serbia, is funded and managed by the city municipality and has been successful without external funds. The local government receives and fulfills the requests of its citizens using its own municipality budget. Conversely, initiatives like My Macedonia receive small scale funding from international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme, who

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives 21

ensure that projects are properly implemented once the feedback has been received. Similarly, the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) program in Uganda has had consistent funding over the last ten years from UNICEF, which has allowed local civil society to focus on outreach and curation. Examples like these have shown us that a project’s success does not necessarily hinge upon full government ownership of funding.

It can be advantageous to have a diverse donor base. Community Media Network (CMN) in Jordan was initially funded by international organizations and NGOs, who invested in the training and technical support for radio stations. This kind of external funding not only garnered international support for the project, but also pressured the government to reform their audio and visual communications laws. As a result of advocacy for more radio, the Jordanian government began providing subsidies for rural radio stations in order to reach marginalized communities. Ad hoc and crowd-source funding methods have also proven to be successful. Cidade Democratica in Brazil has been operating since 2008 and consistently applies for grants and sponsorships to sustain itself. In both cases, a diverse set of funding partners has helped advance program goals in unique ways. Lack of consistent and guaranteed funding can hinder progress. Many initiatives experience rapid turnover of donors, which can have a destabilizing effect. Samadhan was initially funded by the UN Millennium Campaign. When this responsibility was transferred to the Scottish government, funding was only guaranteed until 2016, at which time the Indian government is expected shoulder the burden of financing. Because of this instability, the initiative has now refocused their efforts on finding donors and lobbying the government, rather than focusing its energies on outreach and improving technology.

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


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Conclusions & Recommendations 1. Government buy-in and support is essential to ensure that citizen feedback is translated into change. Consistent, long-term engagement is also important; partnerships with enthusiastic and committed individuals with long-term postings are more effective than those that rotate frequently.

2. All partners must receive value from the initiative to remain engaged. For policy makers this may mean they receive positive media coverage and acknowledgement from their constituents, and for government agencies and NGOs/IOs this could mean access to more upto-date data on their constituents and their priorities. Citizens receive value when they see their feedback translated to into action and change. Real-time dissemination of citizen feedback is an important aspect that makes technology-platform initiatives valuable to partners. Citizen feedback can fill gaps in infrequently measured census data, which benefits government agencies and provides politicians knowledge about their constituencies. This can be advantageous in crafting policy and allow NGOs to identify how and where they should be spending their resources. 3. Existing civil society networks and partnerships are essential for outreach – people who are engaged in a citizen feedback initiative through a network which they are already involved in are more likely to remain committed to that initiative. We have found that the most effective outreach is “offline” and person-to-person. Local CSOs can also provide insight into what special considerations must be given regarding the local context. 4. The timing of a citizen feedback initiative launch has an impact on its success – if the initiative is launched at a moment when people are already engaged politically and when there is an opportunity for policy change (before or after an election, during a widely followed policy debate, while a new government budget is being developed, etc.) the initiative is more likely to engage citizens and have a policy impact.

5. An option for anonymity is important in surveys and data collection. This allows citizens to provide more candid feedback. Sensitive issues and their possible effects on program outcomes must be considered. For example, people may be less willing to respond to surveys about personal health history if their names are disclosed.

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


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6. Any technology must be easy-to-use, accessible and functional, otherwise users will disengage. Partnerships with local telecommunications companies can increase accessibility.

7. Outreach must use many mediums of communication, including tech and non-tech platforms, to ensure widespread participation. Initiatives that achieved broad outreach had strong partnerships with local media platforms, such as newspapers, radio and television.

8. Initiatives must find ways to include marginalized populations such as the elderly, lowincome families, women, minorities and those without access to transportation or technology. Disaggregated data on citizens who participate in the initiative can help determine which groups are being excluded. An intimate knowledge of the local context is essential to achieve equitable participation.

9. Target communities must be informed of their rights and responsibilities. This kind of information can be disseminated through the citizen feedback and service delivery mechanism, via tech platforms or through people-to-people outreach.

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability


The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability December 2014

The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives  

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability's findings on best practices for implementing initiatives which promote citizen feed...

The Future of Citizen Engagement: Recommendations for Implementing Effective Feedback Initiatives  

Occidental College Task Force on Citizen Accountability's findings on best practices for implementing initiatives which promote citizen feed...

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