Hivos International

Technologies

In 2015, Farm Radio International applied to Making All Voices Count for a practitioner research and learning grant. Farm Radio International (FRI) is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organisation working in direct partnership with approximately 600 radio broadcasters in 38 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity.

This study aims to better understand the experiences of rape victims accessing governmental post-rape services in South Africa. It was part of a larger intervention to develop an e-governance mobile phone ratings app for reporting user satisfaction with post-rape services, which aimed to improve accountability and responsiveness.

The findings of the study were used to inform the design and content of the app, as well as its technology platform and the content of marketing material. These contributed to its successful piloting and use at the four centres.

Many technology innovation hubs are developing impactful, locally relevant civic tech solutions to pressing commercial and social issues. Given that most hubs’ ‘double bottom line’ approach to their communities and the impact they aspire to, they are faced with becoming political animals. Many of the challenges they tackle require negotiating or renegotiating power relationships, and co-creating public sector policy solutions.

The change Making All Voices Count wants is more responsive, accountable governance. The programme has contributed to this change by supporting tech-enabled initiatives for amplifying citizen voice and nurturing government responsiveness, and by building understanding of when and how the technologies help create and support change.

When it comes to ICT-mediated governance participation in Brazil, Internet penetration still remains a major challenge, with only around half of homes having connectivity. Opportunities to influence public policy frameworks and government strategies through the Internet, or even through offline interaction, are limited. A worsening of the political and economic situation, and the lack of strong institutionalisation of direct participation have contributed to the decline of participation initiatives in Brazil.

Colombian e-government development has been internationally recognised by the UN as a leader in Latin America, and one of the 20 most developed nations of the world in the area. However, ICT tools and services such as broadband are a luxury. Colombia suffers from an access divide due to economic and infrastructural limitations, and a second level digital divide because of weak information and data literacy.

As a democratic country, the Philippines values citizen participation in ensuring that people's voices are heard and that they are part of important decision-making processes. ICT-mediated and enabled participation plays a particularly significant role in the Philippines, which is considered a leader in mobile telephony. However, despite high usage of ICTs, the country still lags behind its neighbours in terms of broadband infrastructure and Internet access, thus precluding the full realisation of ICT-mediated citizen engagement.

There have been significant shifts in the policy environment of South Africa that are transforming the way citizen engagement takes place in the country. However, high income inequality in South Africa extends to the differentiated experiences of ICT-mediated engagement amongst citizens. ICT response mechanisms are not well defined with respect to sub-populations who may work or live in less formalised and undocumented settings.

The vision, design and implementation of e-governance in India with its attendant “datafication” leads to many pertinent questions about the changing nature of governance and state-citizen engagement. This Brief argues that data-based decision-making in India is part of a larger trend that seems to displace the complex ingredients of participatory governance - dialogue, deliberation, audit and answerability - in favour of a fait accompli that disempowers citizens.

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