When citizens are mistreated by people in power they often have little capacity to ensure justice. Citizen Helpdesks are pioneering a feedback process through which citizens use information to work with power-holders to fix problems and then disseminate information about the changes, ensuring better and more equal access to everything from healthcare to justice. This session discussed how closing the feedback loop in this way has built trust and transformed governance in Liberia, Mali, and Nepal. The first step in the Citizen Helpdesk cycle is listening. Communities select groups of volunteers who work to collect and later disseminate information. These volunteers function as community frontline associates (CFAs) and interact face-to-face with different stakeholders in the community to understand what problems they currently face. Next, these volunteers routinely gather information on critical problems using community surveys. Once collected, these data are analyzed, checked and synthesized by the Accountability Lab. The information is then disseminated to facilitate conversations with all of the pertinent local stakeholders using the most impactful mediums tailored to the local context, such as radio shows and community meetings. This process ensures that everyone understands how and when something will happen, which builds accountability into decision-making processes and closes the feedback loop that often exists between citizens, governments, the media, and the private sector.
Read the full summary for this working session.