Building Foundations before Technology: An Operation Model for Digital Citizen Engagement in Resource Constrained Contexts
Citizen engagement in developing countries is seen as a ‘game changer’ for development, as citizens can play a key role in contributing to service delivery decisions that hold government accountable for their actions. Recently, there has been a drive to adopt digitally innovative approaches to support social accountability monitoring in developing countries. This is especially pertinent with the growing use of technology, specifically mobile technology, where in some rural areas it is estimated that approximately 80% of the population own a mobile phone. However, digital citizen engagement in developing countries is more complex than imagined, as such initiatives are faced with a lack of awareness of civic rights and education, despondency among citizens based on a lack of effective channels to hold government accountable, a lack of government responsiveness, and a lack of capacity to use and apply innovative approaches effectively. This paper presents a case study of a digital citizen engagement project called MobiSAM (Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring), which uses mobile technology to support two-way communication between citizens and local government, on basic service delivery issues. The operation model of MobiSAM is based on five key components which include: building government responsiveness and citizen engagement capacity, stakeholder engagement, iterative and incremental technology development, citizen education and training, and comprehensive evaluation for learning throughout the project. What is unique about this project is that it has evolved from lessons learned in phase 1.0 after 4 years of operation, to phase 2.0 that was initiated in 2016, hence building on lessons learned and reflecting on successful and challenging aspects. The operation model is not static, as it evolves as the project team learns to operate within the uncertain context. The lessons learned from the MobiSAM approach can be used to support the implementation of digital citizen engagement initiatives in similar global contexts.
Citation : Pade-Khene, C., Thinyane, H. and Machiri, M. (2017) Building Foundations before Technology: An Operation Model for Digital Citizen Engagement in Resource Constrained Contexts. 17th European Conference on Digital Government, Lisbon, Portugal, June 2017.
ISBN : 9781911218371
Research Institute : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes