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All Eyes on Government

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A Citizen Engagement Breakthrough

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Crossposted from CitizENGAGE

Nigeria’s Kaduna State needs better roads, schools, and hospitals. An estimated $95 billion is needed to build new infrastructure. By the government’s own admission, however, it has over-spent and under-delivered on infrastructure projects, which are notoriously vulnerable to corruption. To address this, the Kaduna government launched the “Eyes and Ears” project, enlisting citizens to monitor government infrastructure projects.

“Eyes and Ears” calls on citizens to monitor government projects. Progress and problems in building infrastructure can be reported through several platforms: a smartphone app allowing photos of sites to be uploaded, text messaging, phone hotlines, and via social media platform Twitter. The information collected is organized and given to the relevant authorities for further action. A database has been established to blacklist contractors who aren’t getting the job done.

Early results have been impressive. According to the government, money is flowing to projects more quickly, the quality of work has improved, and citizen participation has shot up. The World Bank has described “Eyes and Ears” as a breakthrough in citizen engagement. According to the Budget Commissioner, the government is getting “daily feedback on the quality or otherwise of our projects across the state.”

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