Posts Tagged ‘citizen’

Anti-corruption project in competition at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge

6 April 2009

One of our colleagues here at TI has prepared an exciting project for the N2Y4 mobile challenge. In a nutshell, Mosomo-health is looking to make use of mobile phones to bring together information about health-related government spending and connect this data to local knowledge about whether or not funding reaches its intended destination and actually results in on-the-ground infrastructure and public health services.

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In the interest of brevity and to encourage you to head over to the netsquared site this is an extremely abbreviated description of the idea. If you like it thus far, please register (it’s non-profit and there won’t be any spam), go straight here to look at the detailed description of Mosomo-health, give it a star rating and perhaps an additional positive comment in the comments field. If we can create enough of a buzz, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a chance to reach the finals of the competition and mobilise some funding to pilot the project.

To get a sense of just how worthwhile this may be, check out the last challenge-winning project Ushahidi and on the contest site.

Thanks in advance for your help in spreading the word!

And while we’re at it, TI’s new twitter has just been named Nonprofit of the Week by Nonprofitorgs. Good reason to follow both.

Online debate on Election Monitoring

21 January 2009

Here’s an interesting question for everyone working on transparency, accountability and corruption: How can election monitoring contribute to promoting democracy, human rights and good governance?

The question is posed by the New Tactics in Human Rights Project and the discussions on this and other questions can be accessed here.

Elections are an ideal opportunity for looking into how social media concepts can be used to support a fair and democratic process of choosing a country’s government. Lack of transparency goes hand in hand with opportunities for fraud and undue influence, from the very practical measure of excluding electoral observers, to the more complex uncertainty about the amounts of monies spent in the campaign. Already, a range of tools are used to monitor elections and election day irregularities.

Let me just give you two examples:

  1. A very nice one, is the iChoose Election Observer, a complaint database developed by Transparency Maldives, fulfilling two objectives: to facilitate the reporting of election-related complaints to the proper authorities on the one hand; and to monitor how these complaints are being processed on the other.
    It shows a very practical way of on election day monitoring, engaging citizens, combining text messaging, social media (a facebook group ), and a very effective way of making fraudulent action transparent.
  2. The second example is a project called Base de Datos de Publicidad Oficial (Data base of Official Publicity) by Transparency International’s national chapter in Argentina, Poder Ciudadano, that lists the money spent by the government to the media on advertising. The main part of the project is a searchable data base including the allocation of official advertising since 2000 for all channels, such as radio, TV, cinema, newspapers etc.

The New Tactics in Human Rights Project promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community, by promoting the use and sharing of as wide a range of tactics as possible. One of its tools are debates held online, open for everyone for discussion.

Transparency International has initiated a project on political finance and campaign financing in Latin America, now being adapted to other regions.

But, as one discussion entry rightly states,

“Election observation should (…) not be a one-off event. Institutions and organisations should make a firm commitment to stay involved, not only by observing consecutive elections, but also by staying engaged in between elections.”

And I would maybe add, every citizen needs to stay engaged in between elections, holding their leaders accountable.

IACC conference started today

31 October 2008

The 13th IACC conference started with a panel on corruption, peace and security. Let me reflect on a couple of issues mentioned during the session.

13th IACC

13th IACC

One of the panellists that got me thinking was Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. She highlighted that a Transparency International list of countries with high levels of corruption would look very similar to an Amnesty International list of countries with high levels of human rights violations. Human Rights can be important tools fighting corruption, especially the right for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and are an underutilized legal framework to fight corruption.

Already in this opening plenary it becomes clear that it there is an essential need for the right of citizens to be involved, the right of victims for a voice.

Khan said, and here I see a link to this blog: “The best tool to fight corruption is an empowered citizen.” As I had argued earlier, social media is about empowering people.

This “social transparency”, being accountable towards the citizens, demanding leaders, politicians, to account to what they do, can be supported by the use of social media.

Another issue raised was on stolen money that, as Mark Pieth, Chairman of the OECD working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions stated, must be hidden somewhere. More transparency, especially within global financial flows is urgently needed, as also Transparency International pointed out in its resolution of this year’s Annual Membership Meeting ahead of the 13th IACC.

It would be great to use crowdsourcing concepts to identify flows and assets of CEOs or politicians. To match the money with the people. As Pieth said, if dictators find it more difficult to hide their bounty in financial centre, this contributes to corruption. Maybe if they find their mansions and Maibachs posted on the web, people will become aware. A map on google un-hiding the villas by political leaders.

A question to the panelist asked them, what each one of them could do to fight corruption. So here are just some initial thoughts, if you have any ideas, I’d be interested in hearing and reading them here!

What can you do to fight corruption?

Making the citizens voices heard

25 October 2008

Paolo Mefalopulos had some interesting thoughts on the need for a different concept of communication in the context of development on the blog of the Communication for Governance and Accountability Programme of the World Bank:

If good governance is largely about strengthening citizens’ voices on the demand side, which in turn will also help enhance accountability and transparency on the supply side, it is clear that the traditional conception of communication – transmitting messages through given channels to “target audiences” – is not enough to achieve the intended results. What is needed to strengthen citizens’ voices and enable their active participation is a space where individuals feel safe and stimulated to be part of the processes leading to change.

As I highlighted in an earlier post, social media is about empowering people. Using the tools and concepts of web2.0 means that we have to change the way we traditionally interact with each other.

Let me give a practical example of using a wiki for producing a report on an issue. Traditionally, a person, or a group of persons will draft the report and send it for feedback to the people selected to ask. The feedback comes back to the group and gets incorporated in the document on the basis of what the drafting persons find relevant. Although the process might be very open and transparent with regards to what has been included and what not, in the end the decision will always be taken on the side of the drafting person.

Using a wiki, this process will be opened by inviting the same group of people, but potentially more, to edit the document. With everyone being able to make changes and reverse changes in a “safe space” the discussions become more transparent, but also less controlled. This de-centralising of control and empowering of each participant in the discussion can be frightening to the ones that are used to lead a discussion. It also does not necessarily mean that the process will be more productive. But it will increase the engagement and the committement of all participants and may question established perceptions and points of views of issues.

Now think how long it takes to change a process such as this one in your organisation. It becomes clear that adapting these processes to an even broader audience such as the citizens of a country will need time. But with the tools developed and looking at the videos on youtube, the images on flickr.com and the groups and causes on facebook.com, people starting to make us of them, it may not take as long as we may think.