As a means to strengthen citizen agency to hold state and corporate actors to account and make economic development work for the poor, Penplusbytes under its social accountability and economic justice project “HERE and Now” has launched the Shortchanged Mobile App which provides users with information on the go to monitor social protection policies.
The Shortchanged app was launched on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 at the Kofi Annan I.C.T Training Centre in Accra by the Board Chair of Penplusbytes, Dr. Charity Binka.
Speaking at the launch, Dr. Binka stated that the Shortchanged App forms part of the many interventions by Penplusbytes to promote citizens access to information on various social protection policies aimed at alleviating poverty and encouraging long term human capital development.
“This app, shortchanged will provide us with the needed platform for citizens to be informed about the latest development around NHIS, School feeding programme etc. and give feedback on how well these policies are implemented. We collect the feedback, get them to the policy makers to enable them understand what citizens are saying and also when the problem is solved, the same provides feedback to citizens to build trust and confidence in our governance processes”. She said.
She further explained that periodically, citizens reports will be collated, validated and policy briefs will be generated to advocate for better service delivery in the health and education sectors.
On his part, Jerry Sam, the Executive Director at Penplusbytes stated that “the Shortchanged bilingual mobile app, serves as a platform that fosters a culture where citizens will be equipped with the requisite information to actively participate in the implementation of social protection policies and demand accountability from duty bearers”.
He outlined some of the features of the app including a page on simplified social protection policies with allocated budgets, a poll section to solicit users’ policy options and a comments section to collate feedback from users on the policies being tracked and proffer recommendations that will inform how policies are implemented.
“And to sustain public interest on the selected policies, there are daily news alerts and updates via media monitoring of the policies, blogging, beneficiary story-telling, and effective media campaigns,” he added.
Aside the app being user friendly, there is also a 24/7 support service for smooth user experience and provides assistance to those having challenges and genuine concerns in anything related to the project.
The Shortchanged mobile app forms part of the 2-year “HERE & Now” Project being implemented in Ghana and Mali by Penplusbytes in partnership with ID-Sahel in Mali with technical and financial support from OSIWA. The project seeks to have an informed citizenry who are empowered to form movements to demand for better public service delivery in health and education within the framework of political and social accountability.