Penplusbytes with funding from the Open Society initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is delivering the 2-year “Here and Now” project which seeks to create a culture where citizens are equipped to actively engage in policy implementation and demand accountability.
The project is focusing on social protection policies under education and health sectors in Ghana and Mali being monitored by Penplusbytes and its partner organization, ID-Sahel, in the respective countries.
As part of project activities, 2 sets of 10-member community monitoring groups have been inaugurated to start work in some districts in the project countries – Ghana and Mali.
The community monitoring groups (CMGs) will play a key role in monitoring and evaluating selected social protection policies in health and education with particular emphasis on equity, participation, transparency and issues of systemic exclusion.
The CMG will also serve as trusted sources for the project and ordinary citizens who are not able to access any of the platforms created under the project (i.e. the Shortchanged App), to engage CMG members directly to let their recommendations and grievances be known.
The work of the monitoring groups will exert emphasis on a participatory approach in garnering the feedback of citizens who are supposed to be beneficiaries of the social protection policies being monitored under the project.
According to the Programmes Lead at Penplusbytes, Jeremiah Sam, “The CMG will use low-cost tech tools to monitor and track policy implementation and advocate for best practices from the supply side (government) to meet the needs of the citizens.”
“Our intended outcome is to equip ordinary citizens with usable information, methods, and a mobile application which will enable them to monitor selected policies while actively engaging duty-bearers to demand for better service delivery in areas where shortfalls are identified,” he added.
The CMGs will be supported and supervised by the project staff to collect data on a number of interventions and indicators using an adapted community scorecard that will feed into feedback capsules and policy briefs which will be shared with stakeholders including duty bearers and CSOs working within the social accountability space. Reports generated by the CMG will also be used to engage the media and the general citizenry in face-to-face accountability fora with the ultimate aim of promoting citizens’ access to quality, inclusive public health and education.
Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and enhancing media oversight for effective utilization of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is active in 10 countries in the region (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone) and focuses on law, justice and human rights, and economic and political governance.