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Supporting innovation and the use of technologies in accountability initiatives: lessons from Making All Voices Count

Date added: January 20, 2018

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Making All Voices Count was an international initiative that harnessed the power of innovation and new technologies to support effective, accountable governance. Focusing on six countries in Africa and Asia, the programme was implemented by a consortium comprising Hivos (the lead agency), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Ushahidi. During its four-and-a-half-year life cycle (2013–17), it used funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Omidyar Network to make grants to support new ideas that amplified the voices of citizens, and enabled governments to listen and respond.

From the start, Making All Voices Count was also a learning programme. The objective of this learning was not only to bring about change during the programme’s life cycle, but also to leave a legacy that would help to ensure that future governance programmes and initiatives seeking to capitalise on the transformative potential of innovation and technology are more informed, inclusive and impactful.

This programme learning report emerged from a wider process of analysing, discussing and synthesising the data from the programme, which wove together evidence-based learning about technology for accountable governance initiatives with experiential learning on how best to support such work. The report highlights five of the lessons that emerged from Making All Voices Count about how – and how not – to run large, complex programmes that intend to support innovation in governance.

The report opens by describing the context and design of Making All Voices Count, and describing how it evolved as it was implemented. It goes on to discuss the five lessons:

  1. Take time at the start to get the basics right.
  2. Trusting relationships at all levels are vital in successfully running a large, complex programme.
  3. As they are inherently risky and uncertain, and require adaptive approaches to succeed, innovation programmes are not for all funders, or for all implementers.
  4. What gets measured and monitored needs to be what matters for effectiveness and impact, complex as this may be.
  5. Some types of knowledge and relationships needs to be viewed as valued outcomes to be pursued, rather than assumed to exist from the start.
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