Jerry Sam, Director of Programmes at Penplusbytes’, showcased the organisation’s “Grassroots Open Government Using New Digital Technologies” project at the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) Learning and Inspiration Event that took place from the 9th to the 11th of February 2016 in the Philippines.
The “Grassroots Open Government Using New Digital Technologies” project is intended to enhance communication and information sharing between citizens and the local government in the area of public service delivery, especially health, education and sanitation, using a collaborative and integrated approach.
Mr. Sam shared with participants at the conference how the project has transformed governance at the district assembly level by including the use of digital technologies and the integration of traditional media to ensure citizens voices are heard, and that their inputs in the development of district assembly plans and budgets while at the same time holding duty-bearers accountable.
According to Mr. Sam, “The ‘Grassroots Open Government Using New Digital Tools has enabled citizens think and act differently by providing them with information they need and the opportunity to provide ideas and recommendations to decision makers based on the information they receive. The project has also changed the way local governments work at the district level by using digital technology to bridge the gap between themselves and citizens with regards to information sharing and providing feedback to citizens which empowers them to make inputs in planning and budgeting.”
A participant at the event, Monica Nthiga commended Penplusbytes for its work and said “it is great that through the digital tools deployed under the project, citizens do not have to wait for face-to-face durbars with officials from the assembly to hold them to account and also make their concerns known or receive information about developments within their locality”.
The Making All Voices Count (MAVC) Learning and Inspiration Event was organised by the Institute of Development Studies based in the UK. It brought together CSOs and practitioners in the technology and governance space to learn and explore new ways of using technology to make governments more responsive and accountable to citizens.
The event provided an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own experiences and engage with the knowledge and experiences of a wide range of researchers and practitioners working on issues of governance and technology. It involved field trips to technology development organisations, meetings with state officials and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who have adopted technology to engage with citizens.
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 driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.
Making All Voices Count (MAVC) is an international initiative that contributes towards effective governance and accountability by enabling citizen engagement and open, responsive government in 12 countries in Africa and Asia.