Friday, May 27, 2011

Creating Accountable Leadership in Africa!

If a government is not accountable to its citizens, development cannot be sustainable. Resources and services shift away from the population and business and civil society cannot thrive. In developing countries this can often times be the case. But, people are starting to stand up and create civil/social forces to work against corrupt and unaccountable leadership.

African-led civil society organization called SEND (the winner of the ONE's 2010 Africa Award) has played an influential role in empowering local people to hold-decision and policy makers accountable so that services can be improved. They are using technology such as mobile phones, the internet and social media, combined with newspaper, radio and television to enhance information sharing and demand accountability. With greater transparency and information sharing people are more willing to speak up, raise their voice and transform the framework of power.

From Nigeria to Kenya, from the rural to urban areas, local African lead the way. A great example is Ushahidid (testimony in Swahili), which was created after the election violence in Kenya. It brings together African businessmen, technology and social activist. The platform uses cell phones as modes of feedback on health and education services within the area.
The organization ONE has been very involved and is attempting to promote transparency and accountability in three ways!

1). At the global level-- working with International Budget Partners and others to promote transparency around oil and revenues, while urging donors to be more transparent about the aid they are giving.

2). Supporting African organizations-- such as Ushahidi and SEND

3). Help create the connection between local and global--so that countries like Ghana and Uganda can attain the benefits of rules set in Washington.

As Rakesh states in the ONE video above, "The way change happens is if people make it happen." People have to stand up and move from being observers to participants. If people can more effectively access information, they can become aware, they can speak out, and the leaders can no longer ignore the people.

-Gabrielle Gurian