Making All Voices Count is a global initiative which represents a substantial push towards effective democratic governance and accountability. The Global Innovation Competition, launched at the Open Government Partnership Summit in 2013, sparked a series of innovations worldwide.
Almost 200 ideas to be implemented in Bangladesh, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, were received. Following a period of public voting and peer review, these were reduced to 10 who, last week, competed as finalists in the programme’s Global Innovation Week in Nairobi, Kenya.
Making All Voices Count is working towards a world in which Open Government is the norm, not the exception –Programme Director Marjan Besuijen.
This intense programme, which included expert mentorship and peer-peer networking saw great transformations in each of the participants propositions, as they responded to advice on areas as diverse as gender, disability rights, government engagement, marketing and entrepreneurship.
The week concluded with the Global Innovation Gala on April 3, 2014, at which contestants made their final pitch followed by the Global Innovation Jury’s announcement of the three winners. The Jury is an independent body including a former senior civil servant, technology experts and open data gurus.
First place: £65,000 plus six months expert mentorship
Bahawalpur Service Delivery Unit (BSDU), an initiative by the Government of Punjab province in Pakistan, aims to engage citizens in the governance of service delivery. Led by Imran Sikandar Baloch, District Coordination Officer of Bahawalpur district in Punjab, this initiative is built on open data and has already delivered increased attendance of teachers and students over the past year.
Technology and design partner for this initiative is Technology for People Initiative based at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. It features a mobile app that allows officials and citizens to monitor attendance by teachers and students at school. The information is aggregated online and made publicly accessible. The aim is to enable and motivate citizens to collect, analyze and disseminate service delivery data in order to drive performance and help effective decision making.
“Closed governance cannot deliver quality services reliably to citizens; this project will serve as a model of better management aided by the citizens, for the citizens,” stated Sikandar.
Sheila Ochugboju, Chair of the Jury, explained: “This proposal is replicable, scalable and there is the political will to see it implemented. In addition, it’s results based, focuses on inclusion and employs tested technology. It’s a model that could be replicated outside of Pakistan.”
With the support of Making All Voices Count, this initiative will now be extended into other policy areas including health and agriculture.
Runners-Up: £35,000 grant plus six months expert mentorship
Other winners of the night were drawn from South Africa and Indonesia.
Going the Extra Mile (GEM) from South Africa created by David Shields and Camilo Ramada aims to encourage citizen-driven governance through an innovative digital reward system.
GEM rewards citizens who participate in initiatives such as waste management, community clean-ups and vaccinations. The project aims to boost citizen engagement, build trust and establish meaningful links between government and citizens. “The strategy is to offer the system free of cost to the government,” explains Shields.
The project has already attracted a diverse range of partners from government, the private sector and from the technical community. With the support of Making All Voices Count, GEM will run a pilot in July that combines social development and environmental sustainability.
Reducing Maternal Mortality with SMS, created by Ilham Srimarga, is an innovation that seeks to reduce the high maternal mortality rate of women in Indonesia. As Ilham explains, “health facilities are often unreachable by vulnerable communities due to distance, a high-tariff, and cultural constraints. Our project will connect local hospitals and vulnerable citizens.”
Using an SMS gateway, citizen requests for pregnancy services and information will be received and responded to with requests being documented and, finally, published online.
“This will improve transparency (particularly performance in treating pregnancy/childbirth of poorer community) and accountability of health service providers to the community,” explained Srimarga.
“The project fills a gap where there is no affordable reporting system recording responses to women that need urgent maternal assistance,” said Sheila Ochugboju, Chair of the Jury.
The programme will partner with a range of stakeholders and include the Ministry of Health, directors of hospitals and professional midwifery associations. With the support of Making All Voices Count, Reducing Maternal Mortality with SMS aims to reduce the current high rate of maternal mortality of 359 deaths per 100.000, ultimately to zero.
The other seven finalists each received £5,000 to assist in further developing their innovations. They are:
- ORBIT A Geographic Information System that gives Indonesian citizens access to information regarding government funded projects.
- CitizenEYE. An app created by a team of software developers to provide Ghanaian citizens with information about the oil and gas industry.
- Ghana Petrol Watch. A mobile technology solution to deliver basic facts and figures associated with oil and gas exploration to Ghanaian citizens.
- Citizen Engagement to Implement Election Manifesto. A common platform to be implemented in Khulna City, Bangladesh, where citizens and elected officials will interact on budget, expenditure and information.
- Children Engagement for Government Accountability. The aim of this project is an increase child engagement in governmental budgeting and policy formulation in Mwanza City, Tanzania.
- The Mandera Times – A ‘watchdog’ newsletter in Kenya focusing on monitoring the actions of officials with the aim of educating, empowering and motivating citizens to hold their leaders to account.
- Taking Citizen Desk to Level 2.0. An open-source tool that combines the ability of citizens to share eyewitness reports with the public need for verified information in real time.