While democracies share common features, there is no single model and the same is true for innovations designed to engage citizens and incentivise better governance.
On the International Day of Democracy September 15, Making All Voices Count, a global initiative that aims to foster and support new ideas to enable better citizen engagement and government responsiveness, will launch its second annual Global Innovation Competition (GIC).
“We’re excited to launch the GIC on this symbolic day and welcome challenging, bold solutions,” says Innovation Director Daudi Were.
The GIC is designed to tackle a different governance and accountability problem each year and invites the public to identify and vote on entries.
Last year’s winner came from a changemaker within government in Pakistan, and the competition sparked a surge of interest that led to a wide range of submissions from innovators across the world, with over 250 submissions received and 60,000 public votes cast.
This year, the GIC takes forward the lessons learned and is seeking ideas for Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Indonesia, the Philippines, Liberia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mozambique, Uganda and Nigeria that relate to the following themes:
Legislative Openness – Inclusive and Participatory Lawmaking
Building Resilience and Response to Humanitarian Crisis
The competition doesn’t take innovation to mean the fastest and newest technology and several of the ten previous finalists utilised basic tools, such as SMS and a print news bulletin, in their solutions. As Were explains:
It’s less about the technology and more about how it’s deployed and its relevance to the cultural, political, economic and geographical needs of the end user.
Anyone can come up with up an idea, but it takes an innovator to turn that idea into a working solution and it’s people like this we hope to attract in GIC 2015.
£300,000 in grants available to winners
Finalists will attend the Global Innovation Week in Jakarta, Indonesia; a programme of intensive mentoring and networking.
Winners will receive grants to support their projects, plus expert mentorship.
Making All Voices Count takes learning as central to its programme and earlier this year, a series of think-pieces were conducted investigating the conditions most conducive to the mission of “making all voices count”. This check-list draws on these outputs and has been compiled for GIC applicants.
One major observation, noted by Research & Evidence Programme Manager Duncan Edwards in the think-piece on Making, is that interventions designed to amplify citizen voice and secure government responsiveness are often conducted by outsiders and risk being disconnected from local realities.
The importance of including local perspectives in interventions is echoed by Juliana Rotich, Executive Director of Ushahidi, who says, “when it comes to your community, your society, your country, you are the expert.”
The theme for this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Engaging Youth” and Making All Voices Count is particularly interested in solutions that amplify the voices of vulnerable members of society. In this post previous GIC mentor Fred Ouku offers a disability perspective and urges:
If you’re talking about democracy – including ALL voices in the public sphere – it’s important to recognize the ‘public’ are diverse, with different needs and experiences.
My vision for this year’s GIC is that entrants, from the outset, design solutions that aim to make services or decision-making processes accessible and open to everyone. That is, for all members of society including marginalized persons or people that for some reason remain hard to reach.
Applications for the GIC open on September 15, 2014 and close on October 15, 2014.
For further updates on the #GIC2015 sign up here.
For a video recap of the GIC 2014 see here: