“Pop quiz. Which of these do you agree with?
- Information can empower the poor and enable citizen engagement in civic processes.
- Community oversight can address ‘government failure’.
This is a fixed mind-set that now exists in my past, overtaken by a newer thinking from a course on Fostering Social Accountability by the Global Partnership for Social Accountability; realising a paradigm shift. My thinking has registered on failures of information to speak as much ‘noise’ as would be needed to attract the governments’ attention. Will information really bring public integrity? How audible is the ‘voice’ (community actions) without ‘teeth’ (state responsiveness)? Rhetoric they used to be to me and may be to you as well, and so I am excited to explore the breadth of social accountability I have learnt about on the course. My previous experience of walking in solidarity with disgruntled communities and partners over limited access to public information should mature. Instead I should speak of what kind of information will be useful for the purpose of realising the goal, what kind of community participation is likely to represent the socially excluded, and ultimately investigate the role of state’s responsiveness in the process. (more…)