Browse by Theme: Citizen Voice & Participation

Many of us start working in humanitarian, development or human rights work because we want to change the world or make our country a fairer, better place to live. But in a world where that work is mostly carved up into discrete “projects”, we often end up being satisfied with so much less. If the project we’re working on meets the targets we have agreed with the donor, if an evaluation shows positive change for those we have worked with directly, we have done good work. But is that enough?

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It’s something every country in the world can use right now: braver citizens and more responsive governments. That’s what CARE’s Implementation of Social Accountability Framework project in Cambodia achieved. So how did we do it, and what are the key learning points?

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On 4 December 2018 CARE International and British Council convened a workshop in Nairobi with the title “Doing Development Differently in the Global South” to consider how the Doing Development Differently (DDD) global community can better incorporate Southern voices, and how the principles of DDD – its approach to development practice and its aspiration to deliver better results – can be best actioned in the South. The workshop built upon several ongoing discussions across INGOs and the broader development community: primarily, what it would take to realise DDD when working with civil society; additionally, whether DDD and related agendas like Thinking and Working Politically have sufficiently incorporated Southern voices and may even need to be decolonised.

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In a politically volatile environment, CARE is working to implement Community Development Forums (CDF) in tea estates in Sri Lanka. The CDFs are delivered in partnership with the tea workers, estate management and trade union representatives and aim to break-down barriers to show how tea communities can collaborate to achieve social and business benefits. In December 2018 I travelled to Bandarawella to understand more about how CARE’s partnership with the tea company, Twinings is supporting the establishment of CDFs to deliver transformational change.

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In the first blog in this series, we showed how participatory power analysis, by identifying the marginalisation of specific groups, can help ensure that participatory local governance does not simply enable those who already have privilege and access to gain greater influence. But what happens after marginalised groups and the reasons for their exclusion are identified? How do we build concrete strategies to include the voices of poor communities and excluded women? In this second blog in the series, we look at citizen forums as a strategy for wider participation.

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Last week CARE Bangladesh hosted a week-long study tour for 25 participants from 10 countries in Asia, in partnership with the Local Governance Initiative and Network (LOGIN). This blog explores some of the key things that participants learned from CARE Bangladesh’s approach, in its World Bank-funded JATRA project, to empowering the poorest and most marginalised to participate in, and meaningfully influence, local government decision-making processes.

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Local folk songs about rights and accountability were one of the most successful innovations in CARE’s Journey for Transparency, Representation, and Accountability (JATRA) project in Bangladesh. Those songs helped 15% of voters get involved in the open budget process, which resulted in local officals being able to budget nearly 25% of their resources to fulfill requests from the poorest people in their area.

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