The debate is raging (in some circles) about what should come after the MDGs in 2015 but amongst all this discussion the voices of those who really matter – those experiencing poverty or marginalisation – are not always present. To try and address this CAFOD has just finished an in-depth research project exploring people’s experiences of poverty and exclusion over the past 15 years, as part of the wider Participate initiative with the same aim. The COMPASS 2015 research project explored people’s experience of poverty and exclusion over the last 15 years involving 1,420 participants in Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Philippines and Bolivia. A central issue that emerged was how development projects and services are delivered and who benefits. Concerns about how governments and other actors involved, such as INGOs, were accountable and the transparency of the process were high on people’s agendas.
Poor governance structures which lead to political patronage, corruption or the disproportionate favouring of those in more privileged positions affect the poorest and marginalised the most. Those are the people who rely most on services or development programmes and cannot afford to find alternatives
But how to reverse these trends and ensure greater accountability from those who are delivering services? Amongst many possible measures are feedback mechanisms, the participation of communities, freedom of information and protection for those who speak out are important steps to build a better system.