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May 2019

Blog: How can a rethink of lessons from field experiments inform future research in transparency, participation and accountability?

Strategists in the field of transparency, participation and accountability are rethinking overly optimistic theories of change. How can a reassessment of existing studies help to inform this needed reboot? What do ‘mixed results’ from field experiments with transparency and accountability interventions tell us about where the field should go next? To offer a reality check to inform the ‘what works’ question in the field of transparency, participation and accountability (TPA), this 3ie guest blog by ARC director Jonathan Fox offers three propositions for discussion:
  1. We should not be surprised when ‘low dose’ interventions lead to uninspiring impacts.
  2. Some field experiments are based on 'fuzzy proxies', which leads to fuzzy results.
  3. Large-scale evaluations have assessed only a narrow range of theories of change in the TPA field.

Publication: Pitfalls of Aiming to Empower the Bottom from the Top: The Case of Philippine Participatory Budgeting


This new working paper Pitfalls of Aiming to Empower the Bottom from the Top: The Case of Philippine Participatory Budgeting from Joy Aceron of Government Watch explains why and how a reform program that opened up spaces for participatory budgeting was ultimately unable to result in pro-citizen power shifts that transformed governance. The study reviews the design and implementation of Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), the nationwide participatory budgeting (PB) program in the Philippines, which ran from 2012 to 2016 under the Benigno Aquino government. The findings underscore the importance of institutional design to participatory governance reforms. BuB’s goal was to transform local government by providing more space for civil society organizations (CSOs) to co-identify projects with the government and to take part in the budgeting process, but it did not strengthen CSO or grassroots capacity to hold their Local Government Units (LGUs) accountable.

Publication: Setting the Stage for Increased Accountability: The White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Campaign to Improve Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in Niger State

Poor service delivery plagues the health care systems of many African countries, in particular affecting women and children who depend on local health centers for prenatal and basic primary care. One route to improving such care is through holding government accountable for its health care promises. But in many of these contexts, democracy is fragile and civil society is weak, leaving few institutions for holding government to account. In these contexts, can external actors support such pro-accountability change? This accountability note begins to answer this question with reference to White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria’s campaign to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in Niger State. Campaign activities promoted citizen demand for quality maternal health care and government responsiveness to those demands through advocacy to key health system actors, community dialogues to share information and set strategy, town halls to bring together citizens and government representatives, and the training of a cadre of citizen journalists to expose poor quality health care as well as highlight government responsiveness to citizen demands. Read more in American University Prof. Rachel Robinson’s Setting the Stage for Increased Accountability: The White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Campaign to Improve Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in Niger State.

From May 20-22, ARC hosted our diverse advisors for an annual meeting and strategic reflection. Two new colleagues -- Shereen Essof (Just Associates) and Walter Flores (CEGSS) -- recently joined our group of advisors. For more about ARC, including our advisors, visit our About page.

Thank you again for your interest in ARC and our platform for sharing the work of our collaborators around the world. Please share with colleagues who may be interested to sign up for future monthly updates on publications and highlights of our partner organizations’ work for social change and greater accountability. Those who prefer can also follow ARC on Twitter (@AcctResearchCtr) or Facebook

 
With Regards,
Jonathan Fox
Director, Accountability Research Center
Professor, American University School of International Service
Contact us:
arc@american.edu

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