Bridging the divide: Grassroots governance for national change

Open Government Partnership and World Vision join forces

I can’t accurately express the honour of having a little baby boy in Indonesia named after me. Candra Besi was born at a local health clinic in Kupang, Indonesia during my visit to better understand the changes brought about through the lobbying efforts of  communities supported by Wahana Visi Indonesia,[i] under a World Bank-funded project to improve maternal and child health.

As a result of social accountability using the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA)> model in the Kupang district, Candra Besi was delivered safely in a new maternity ward, with the aid of a proud, qualified midwife. Her attitude and approach, and those of other health staff at the facility, had significantly improved after direct community feedback made possible through the project. It enabled patients like Candra Besi’s mother to engage with service providers (like nurses, midwives) and governments (civil servants and elected officials), and this together with joint action planning and advocacy, contributed to the improved environment into which Candra Besi was born. We have seen 60 villages lobby for improvements across nearly 300 health facilities in three districts in East Nusa Tenggara province.

But what have Candra Besi’s birth and the social accountability project got to do with the Open Government Partnership? While it is easy to think of engaged citizens being something that happens ‘down there’ at community level, and the OGP agenda as being ‘up there’ at the national level (until the recent OGP Local program), World Vision’s experience of implementing our approach in about six hundred programmes across 48 countries has taught us that social accountability contributes significantly to the open governance agenda. It can promote much-needed country commitments around transparency, participation, and accountability that enable children and their families who often live on the margins and are ignored or unheard to contribute to improved governance of public services. That is what the evidence tells us, at least.

Among the findings of an independent evaluation of the World Vision project in Indonesia was a change in the role of citizens, from simply ‘client’ or ‘service user’ to ‘a source of system-useful information’ and ‘a political claimant with rights’; the process builds cooperative relationships; builds capacity in collaborative action at multiple levels; and creates positive feedback loops which influence systemic changes[ii].

In 2016, World Vision launched a bold new global strategy called Our Promise 2030, to fulfil our mission and deliver on our commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals. Realising the promises we have made requires approaches such as Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) to ensure that when we leave a community they have the skills and confidence to engage directly with government about the issues that matter most to their children’s well-being.

Demand-led governance is fundamental to improving national governance through OGP’s vision of more transparent, accountable, and participatory government structures. Without demand from their people there is little pressure or incentive for service providers and governments to respond. World Vision and OGP have been working to establish a foundation for collaboration in recent years, with the goal to ensure that all citizens have a voice in policy decisions that ultimately improve their access to quality public services, to their ability to have happy and healthy babies like Candra Besi. This has resulted in a World Vision International-OGP Strategic Collaboration to be announced at the OGP Global Summit .

We are excited about this collaboration and the work we will do together to ensure active, empowered citizens contribute to implementing open governments that work for the world’s most vulnerable children.

Pictures:

Health centre_Indonesia
Women participating in a community scorecard session in Indonesia. World Vision/Otniel Rissy

Mum and baby_Indonesia
Feedback from health services users like new mothers contributes to the safe and healthy delivery of babies. World Vision/Bartolomeus Marsudiharjo


[i] Wahana Visi, World Vision’s office in Indonesia, secured the first Indonesian grant under the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability

[ii] Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Project, Interim Technical Report 2015-17

Authors: Besinati Mpepo