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Empowering communities for housing and community services

Date added: September 30, 2016

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A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging each stage and level of public sector actions in an integrated way can locate the causes of accountability failures, show their interconnected nature, and leverage the local, national and transnational power shifts necessary to produce sustainable institutional change.

This case study summary is one of seven that reflect on civil society monitoring and advocacy initiatives in the Philippines – all of which aim to improve government accountability in different sectors – through the lens of vertical integration.

In the 1990s, widespread demolitions displaced many informal settlers in Metro Manila. Victims and their families responded by organising themselves. Among those that organised early was the umbrella organisation Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api (Philippines Poverty Relief, DAMPA). Created to demand not housing and relocation from different levels of government, and the social services that should go with them, DAMPA organised poor communities around common basic issues through building a partnership with the government, enhancing community-based self-help initiatives, and initiating pro-poor legislation at both the local and national government levels.

Lessons for vertically integrated advocacy:

  • DAMPA considers its network of constituents, members and partners as its greatest resource for vertical integration. It was able to overcome populism and clientelism by building on the knowledge that it acquired through collaboration and networking within its constituency
  • For DAMPA, vertical integration is a chance to learn and to strengthen the organisation and its members
  • DAMPA recognises that it was able to vertically integrate its activities because of its understanding of its own strengths and weaknesses, and of how institutions operate, how power structures at the different levels of government affect the results of advocacy, and how best to engage the government at different levels.

See also "Going vertical: citizen-led reform campaigns in the Philippines", with all case studies here

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