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Innovations to engage youth in accountability work in Liberia

Date added: September 29, 2017

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In Liberia’s post-conflict context, there is a new generation of young people coming of age who did not experience the conflict. The Accountability Lab, a civil society organisation that works with youth in Liberia around transparency and accountability, considers this an opportunity to engage with young people in new ways and support them to become actors in a process of building positive accountability dynamics. This practitioner research looks at the Lab's efforts to engage in an adaptive learning process, and its methods to improve Liberia’s accountability ecosystem.

The Lab was able to gain insights into how to improve their efforts within the local Liberian context. This included: what strategies to use to reach citizens outside the capital, Monrovia; how and with whom to expand their networks and partnerships to create local hubs in the interior; and how to engage their local staff in research processes. The research also produced insights about Liberia’s accountability landscape, suggesting that efforts to build governance have so far focused on institution-building, creating laws and institutions that do not always match local norms and culture. In response to this, the Lab developed a people-centred strategy proposing a new approach aimed at training champions and creating networks that can positively change behaviours to embed accountability and transparency in local culture.

The paper ends with a reflective conversation with Accountability Lab’s Executive Director and Research Adviser. They discuss what the research revealed about the accountability landscape in Liberia, their work with youths, and innovative tools such as an accountability incubator, the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in fragile settings, and balancing long-term processes to build trust with more immediate accountability needs.

Key themes in this paper:

  • transparency and accountability in post-conflict settings
  • the use of arts and culture to open spaces for accountability engagement
  • youth-centred initiatives
  • bridging the demand and supply sides of accountability in centralised political systems
  • the use of ICTs for data collection
  • the limitations of ICTs in reaching vulnerable populations in fragile contexts.
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