The aim of this initiative is to strengthen the voice of citizens in national policy and governance processes through use of mobile communications technology and a safe intermediary to ensure that allows government access and response to society needs on governance and policy processes. Building on successful government-citizen accountability systems such as the IMIHIGO in Rwanda, and CSO initiatives such as Twaweza in Tanzania-this initiative seeks to strengthen government accountability by creating a regular mechanism using technology to allow citizens to regularly communicate with their leaders and receive feedback on issues of governance and policy development. It will create a system that enables community members in selected regions of the country to demand services and access to decision-making processes that ensure their input into policies.

Context

Traditional channels of dialogue between society and government works best in stable democracies, but can be delicate and sometimes even dangerous for social actors or communities in post conflict situations. Access to information is difficult, but equally challenging is a safe space to share concerns and receive feedback from government. Development actors bridge the accountability gap through accountability programs based on freedom of and access to information. But these faces challenges in that apart from being just  one –off  processes  they lack clear connection  and feedback mechanisms between the state and society. They are also primarily one-way channels that offering no feedback, and lacking a sustained engagement.  Platforms like public meetings, Facebook and Twitter do not offer any assurance to citizens that they will not be victimized when voicing their views. It also lacks a sense of security and therefore trust, making citizens cautious

The use of mobile phones allows for information to be anonymous yet credible while making citizens bolder, especially the marginalized. The two-way communication will improve the rate of community airing their voice to governments because there will be regular feedback. When participation is enhanced, and there is more access to information on the development process, an environment of transparency is created where the communities hold their leadership to account. The engagement of CSOs as intermediaries allow for constant pressure on the government to respond to concerns raised through dialogue and advocacy work. It is also hoped that the regular public dialogue sessions with local citizens will strengthen relations and collaboration with government.

As more government authorizes recognize that citizens have a regular means to communicate to relevant authorities fewer government actors will act in isolation on policy and governance processes

How it works

This project combines three very good tools for government dialogue with citizens. First it uses mobile phones which are readily accessible to communities at individual or group levels (through community self-help groups). It is accessible, anonymous and cheap.  Secondly it creates a safe channel where the information will be analyzed and sent to government through software that ensures anonymity. The information is sent directly to relevant actors in government, as well as higher office within the executive as a means of double accountability. This may include office of the Ombudsman and people responsible for citizen accountability programs.  The third part involves creating space for dialogue-first directly with citizens based on the issues they have raised through the safe mobile communication channels, and secondly through the engagement of initiated by organizations that ensure follow up and communications with both state and community members  on the issues raised by citizens.  This will be through regular Forums serving as an open space for engagement among communities, civil society and government.