Participatory Citizen Monitoring
IfE is organizing a global civil society alliance to support participatory citizen monitoring and accountability efforts at the community and national levels in all parts of the world.
(Field Hearings community in Nigeria)
The UN conducted a consultation on participatory monitoring and accountability, inviting IfE to submit a paper on our Field Hearings network. Now IfE and other civil society groups must step up to ensure that governments are monitored and held accountable for progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Participatory Monitoring Alliance is based on our Field Hearings network of partners, already organized and operating on the ground in more than 80 countries, but is open to other networks as well. The focus of the monitoring and accountability efforts will be determined by the participating organizations and the local community members with whom they are working, and will vary depending on the circumstances of the community. Issues will likely include equitable and sustainable development, social and political discrimination, economic inequalities, access to resources, disaster response, climate change and adaptation, migration, and other urgent issues faced by people around the world.
What is participatory monitoring & accountability?
Participatory citizen monitoring & accountability (PMA) is a powerful method for effective involvement by community members in the decisions that affect their lives. Rather than suffering under poor decisions and implementation by governments, agencies, and businesses, which can be ineffective, corrupt, or actively harmful, PMA helps community members and civil society groups to gather information, document problems, and insist that laws are followed and promises met. Forming alliances with other communities and organizations which have the same objectives can help to greatly strengthen the monitoring and accountability outcomes.
Participatory monitoring is a well-organized and on-going activity in which community members and civil society organizations (CSOs) gather information on their analysis and priority issues in a way that answers the essential questions: what are people experiencing? how is it affecting people? is the policy or program working? what are the problems? what could be done better? what are people’s priorities for change?
Accountability efforts are carefully planned strategic interventions in which community members and CSOs bring the monitoring results forward in meetings or through the news media, and then put pressure on decision-makers to implement programs properly, fix problems, change policies, follow laws, and keep promises.
Goals and objectives of this initiative
Our goal is to put communities in charge of their own development agenda and lives. Because we recognize people, communities, and civil society organizations at the local and national levels as the leaders in addressing their own development, we will work in a supporting role towards the following objectives:
- empowerment of people (particularly in poor, socially excluded, and marginalized communities) to set their priorities and exercise their rights to hold authorities accountable
- development of appropriate indicators that help communities conduct participatory monitoring
- refinement of participatory monitoring and feedback mechanisms to track these indicators
- improved local capacity for monitoring and accountability activities
- strengthening of existing national and regional networks to support those efforts
- facilitation of global peer-to-peer networking between local groups so they can share approaches, findings, and advocacy strategies with one another
- coordination and presentation of monitoring results to support the impact of results at all scales
- effective context-specific advocacy approaches, supporting local and national groups in their accountability activities
- bringing participatory monitoring results into international decision-making and standard-setting processes
How does this relate to the Sustainable Development Goals?
A transition from a development paradigm of “aid and charity” to one of “justice and equality” is currently underway. While the Millennium Development Goals were firmly based in the development paradigm of “aid and charity”, the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are tentatively based in a paradigm of “justice and equality.” They use language invoking human rights, equality, and participation by all – including the poorest and most marginalized citizens.
IfE’s network was one of the reasons this happened. We successfully coordinated a large civil society push from around the globe, to see a goal and targets on reducing inequalities included in the SDGs (read about Goal 10). But in order for the new SDGs to fulfill their transformative potential, we urgently need mechanisms to ensure that the priorities and wishes of people at the local community level are central to their implementation. We must also find ways to hold multilateral institutions and governments, in both rich and poor countries, accountable for meeting the goals and targets.
Given the current political and fiscal climate, citizen-led initiatives may be the only reliable way to ensure effective monitoring and promote accountability.
Opportunities for involvement in the PMA alliance
There are several ways for you to get involved:
(1) join as a Field Hearings partner if you are able to work within a particular community, facilitating input and accountability activities along with community members;
(2) join as a global or regional network if you are already conducting on-the-ground participatory monitoring or dialogues through local CSO partners; or
(3) join as an individual supporter to contribute your time, advice, and donations to the initiative.
Read more in the pages listed in the Sidebar Menu to the left. Then let us know if you would like to get involved!
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