Can text messages fix East Africa’s development challenges ? Research on citizen reporting projects from a summer in Tanzania By Jacqueline Deelstra The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy Uganda Kenya Tanzania What are some challenges in East Africa? •Education Quality •Water •Corruption •Distance between the wananchi and the government •Accountability in Government Spending The Good News •Mobile phone growth has been extremely rapid •Via either ownership or sharing most have access to a mobile phone •Prices have gone down because of increased competition How can mobile phones solve the previously mentioned problems? Reminder! This is the phone I am talking about: It all starts with the belief that citizen reporting on problems with government service delivery, performance and neglect can put pressure on the government to do better And the belief that citizens trust NGOs and the media enough to report their problems. Raising the Water Pressure 46% of water points in rural Tanzania are not working Asks for reports on water point functionality problems via SMS Report goes straight to the appropriate water engineer and to the media [email protected] Teacher absenteeism rates in Uganda are between 20% and 30% Pilot in 100 schools, head teachers reporting weekly using SMS Program meant to support the government reporting process that was not working and also to inform general public Example of a relevant citizen reporting project outside of East Africa I Paid a Bribe Run by Janaagraha, an NGO in Bangalore, India Goal is to provide a better picture of when and where people pay brides What do these projects do? Give people a place to go with their complaints Value citizen generated information Deliver more and real-time data Take advantage of the availability of mobile phones Recognize the power of the media in shaping government behavior Create a buzz around these issues (eco-system of change) Assumptions People who should be reporting have the willingness/ability to do so People think it will make a difference Information gathered will be accurate/government and other relevant actors will find the information trustworthy Government incentive and ability to act Many more… Concerns Asking for information raises expectations Who is included and who remains hidden Do these projects works?! It is about gathering information, using mobile phones as a tool, but also really about fostering the feeling that people can make a difference Thank You!