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Indigenous participation in resource development: a paradigm shift

28 Mar 2017 03:47:42 GMT

Indigenous Peoples as a demographic are amongst the poorest and most marginalized on the planet. Many have been displaced and exist in territories where extreme conditions make sustainable economic development challenging, with infrastructure, water and energy costlyand unstable. Often, traditional ways of life are no longer able to get them out of the poverty which they face. Government programs to a large degree have proven ineffective and can serve to perpetuate the inequality and marginalization that persists. As a result, many communities have looked elsewhere for solutions. While the old paradigm in resource development at best did little to close the gap in territorial inequality of these marginalized communities, new tools are emerging that are developed through community participation, rooted in collaboration and empowerment. Resource development today more than ever before presents opportunities for both sides to enrich each other’s lives and that of the global collective.
Resource development exists in some of the most remote parts of the globe, often alongside Indigenous Peoples. It brings with it billions of dollars in investment, jobs, business opportunities, programs and attention to often times forgot regions of the world. While successful examples of resource development bridging the inequality gap have historically been few and far between, instead fostering a slew of socialand environmental problems and perpetuating inequality, we are seeing more and more success stories. Resource development, if done right, can transform societies even the poorest economies.
This paper will suggest that through Indigenous participation in resource development, a new model based on true collaboration is born which can be a powerful solution to territorial inequality. This paper will look at new opportunities and models in resource development that can serve to empower communities and reduce inequality through best practice examples and case studies from the Canadian context and the potentials that exist elsewhere, particularly in Latin America. It will highlight factors that have been seen to exacerbate the problematique such as land rights, resettlement and the environment. Lastly, it will look at regions which have proactively developed and implemented regional development strategies around mining such as Northwest Territories (NWT), in areas of historically marginalized Indigenous groups, using mining to transform territorial inequality into a competitive edge.

Participatory identification of climate-smart agriculture priorities

16 Dec 2016 01:59:38 GMT

With the concept climate-smart agriculture (CSA) being relatively new, there is a need to test and develop practical and systematic methodologies and approaches for documenting and evaluating CSA practices in the field. The implementation of CCAFS’ Climate-Smart Villages (CSV) involves identifying, assessing and selecting climate-smart farming practices.

 This report contains three sections: (i) a framework for identifying and assessing CSA in the field with a long list of CSA indicators in identifying and monitoring CSA interventions; (ii) cost-benefit analysis of some selected climate-smart farming systems; and (iii) the participatory process of prioritizing CSA options with the villagers. The work builds on experiences from the My Loi CSV and its scaling domains in Ky Anh district, Ha Tinh province, in the north-central region of Viet Nam.

Gender and inclusion toolbox: participatory research in climate change and agriculture

13 Dec 2016 03:59:42 GMT

This manual introduces a wide range of participatory strategies and tools for research to guide the implementation of climate smart agriculture and efforts to achieve food security in rural communities. It is intended for NGO practitioners and program designers interested in diagnostic and action research for gender sensitive and socially inclusive climate change programs.

The manual provides users with an introductory section that defines basic concepts of gender, climate change, vulnerability, adaptive capacity and  participatory action research. The following section describes steps in developing a research planning guide, building a research team and sampling procedures. Subsequent sections introduce key participatory tools for context analysis and for gathering a wide variety of information on perceptions of wealth, empowerment and overall socio-economic dynamics in a community. Users will be able to explore issues of access, use and control over climate services, and how co-benefits of climate interventions are perceived. The final section provides a set of easy to use guides on how to organize and analyze qualitative data from participatory action research.

Learning from young people about their lives: using participatory methods to research the impacts of AIDS in southern Africa

15 Nov 2016 12:52:36 GMT

Methods of participatory research have become popular among children’s geographers as they are believed to enable young people to speak openly about their lives in unthreatening contexts. In this paper the authors reflect on their experience of using participatory methods to explore the sensitive topic of (indirect) impacts of AIDS on young people’s livelihoods in Malawi and Lesotho.
The paper examines how different methodological approaches generate varying knowledges of children’s lived realities; challenges of using ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ research assistants, place of group-based approaches in participatory research and ethical issues. The authors suggest that researchers of young people’s lives should take full account of the relationship between epistemology and methodology in selecting and employing methods appropriate to particular research questions.

Children’s mobility in Ghana: an SBHA Special Issue

15 Nov 2016 02:18:17 GMT

Children throughout Sub-Saharan Africa are extraordinarily mobile. Every day children travel to school, to markets, to fetch water and firewood, to work on farms and take farm produce to grinding mills, as well as to visit friends and family and to play. However, children’s mobility is relatively invisible: most journeys that children undertake cover short distances and the vast majority are on foot. As such, very little research has been conducted into the extent of children’s mobility and impacts on education, livelihoods, health and well-being.

In this special issue of Society, Biology and Human Affairs, a group of Ghanian scholars co-ordinated by guest editors Drs Gina Porter and Kate Hampshire, present the results of various aspects of a larger project on ‘Children, Transport and Mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa’, by presenting a series of papers on children’s mobility in Ghana.

Research used an innovative child-centred approach, in which 70 children (aged 11-19 when they started the project) received training and supervision to conduct research on mobility issues among their peers in their home communities.

Article titles include:

  • Children’s mobility in Ghana: An overview of methods and findigns from the Ghana research study
  • Work and happiness: Children’s activities in Ghana
  • Child labour or skills training? A rights-based analysis of children’s contributions to household survival in Ghana
  • Child fostering and education in Ghana
  • Exploring the influence of household internal migration and parents’ main livelihood activities on children’s occupational aspirations in Ghana
  • Mobility and economic constraints as key barriers to children’s healthseeking in Ghana
  • Moving on two wheels

While the papers underline how mobile children in Ghana are, both on a daily basis and undertaking longer-term movements, another key issue to emerge from the study was the limitations and constraints that children face in terms of mobility. Getting to schools, health centres, markets, and other places that they need or want to go, is often very difficult. The difficulties can be particularly acute for those living in remote rural areas, but even children living in urban and peri-urban settlements often struggle to travel around their communities easily and safely. Large distances, high costs of public transport, infrequent transport services to rural areas, and dangers experienced while traveling (such as the risks of traffic accidents, or encountering hazards along the way) mean that daily journeys to school, for example, could become a major ordeal, and even unfeasible for some children.

Income generating activities as components of sustainable rural livelihoods for young southern Africans - AIDS and other constraints

15 Nov 2016 01:33:36 GMT

The literature dedicated to exploring rural livelihoods in southern Africa has devoted comparatively little attention to non-agricultural livelihoods, as several authors have pointed out. This gap in knowledge about non-agricultural livelihoods is also reflected in the literature looking at the effects of AIDS on rural livelihoods in Southern Africa. In general, research focusing on the effects of AIDS on livelihoods has also tended to neglect effects on young people’s abilities to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves in the future, and consequently, AIDS-affected young people’s abilities to engage in non-agricultural livelihoods have been even less explored.

This paper reports on a study with rural young people (aged 10-24 years) in Malawi and Lesotho, focusing on their opportunities to learn skills and access capital and assets to engage in income generating activities (IGAs). Participatory group exercises and individual interviews provide many examples of how young people learn skills and start small businesses, as well as insight into their strategic thinking around engaging in these livelihood options.

Various factors, including the effects of AIDS, are shown to affect young people’s prospects of succeeding in their ventures. Young people are themselves very keen on starting IGAs, and are supported by adult members of their communities in asking for interventions to help them do so. The paper argues that expanded vocational and business training, focusing on locally appropriate types and scale of businesses, coupled with help to raise start-up capital has the potential to improve poor and/or AIDS-affected young people’s chances of securing sustainable rural livelihoods in their futures.

Since AIDS is intertwined with many other issues affecting young people’s livelihoods, it is however problematic to single out and target only AIDS-affected young people with interventions on skills building and IGAs. Policy makers’ attitudes to vocational skills training and support for IGAs in Malawi and Lesotho are also explored, and policy recommendations made in relation to supporting vulnerable rural young people in their attempts to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves.

Young people are themselves very keen to learn various skills and to try running small businesses, and often mention IGAs when asked about future plans and aspirations. Adult community members also talk about wishing that vocational skills training and loans for businesses were available to young people locally, and in participatory dissemination activities with the communities, these issues were mentioned repeatedly when generating recommendations for governments and NGOs.

The equity impact of participatory women's groups to reduce neonatal mortality in India: secondary analysis of a cluster-randomised trial

03 Nov 2016 02:14:26 GMT

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been uneven. Inequalities in child health are large and effective interventions rarely reach the most in need. Little is known about how to reduce these inequalities. We describe and explain the equity impact of a women’s group intervention in India that strongly reduced the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in a cluster-randomised trial. We conducted secondary analyses of the trial data, obtained through prospective surveillance of a population of 228, 186. The intervention effects were estimated separately, through random effects logistic regression, for the most and less socio-economically marginalised groups.

Key messages:

  • the effects of the women’s group intervention on NMR were substantially stronger among the most socio-economically marginalised than among less marginalised groups in the Ekjut trial.
  • socio-economic inequalities in neonatal mortality can be substantially reduced through a low-cost participatory community intervention.
  • universal coverage combined with ‘soft targeting’ of high-risk groups with effective interventions can have very substantial and equitable effects on mortality

Communities and conservation in West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania : participation, costs and benefits

20 Sep 2016 03:11:53 GMT

This thesis contributes to the current debate on how to balance conservation and development objectives. The extent of land under protection globally has increased enormously over the last 30 years, and there are still plans to expand the current protected areas (PAs) and create new ones. Their establishment is associated with impacts on local communities who live in the proximity of such areas. Different actors have proposed local participation and benefit sharing for people affected by these conservation initiatives. Despite their implementation over three decades, the social, economic, and political impacts of establishing and maintaining PAs remain debatable. It is in this context that this study was conducted in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the Kilimanjaro National Park, and the West Kilimanjaro Forest Plantation in Tanzania. The specific research questions of the study are: i. What are the social and economic impacts of the expansion and establishment of conservation areas on local people in West Kilimanjaro; and how are the impacts distributed along gender lines? ii. How are the conservation benefits shared with local communities in West Kilimanjaro? iii. How do the conservation benefits and costs affect local peoples‟ attitudes towards and perceptions of conservation? iv. What are the factors that drive human-wildlife conflicts? Data were collected using qualitative methods through the combination of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, informal interviews, and participant observation. Secondary data in the form of written sources on the study area were used in addition to the primary data gathered. The research results are presented in four separate but interrelated papers. [...] All areas studied (Enduimet WMA, Kilimanjaro National Park, and West Kilimanjaro Forest Plantation) share a centralised structure in terms of decision making on the management of natural resources and benefit sharing. Local people are not able to participate in decision making in the management of the areas, and it is difficult for communities to influence or challenge the way the structure operates. In Enduimet, the WMA was proposed as community-run conservation area. In practice, the communities do not have the power to collect revenues, decide on shares, or to verify whether they receive the income they are entitled to receive. The central government collects the revenues and channels the percentage to local people. The Kilimanjaro National Park was found to involve local people only when there is a fire outbreak; thus local people claimed to be used as „tools‟. The park management system does not allow space for local people‟s opinions. Most of the collected revenues are retained by the national parks headquarters and local people do not have any power or influence over the revenues. In practice, the park operates under a strict „fences and fines‟ or „fortress conservation‟ strategy. In the West Kilimanjaro Forest Plantation, local people do not have any power or share of the revenues collected from the sale of logs and poles, apart from payment received from casual labour. The income from logs sold is remitted to the central government. In all three areas, participation is used as „means‟ to improve environmental conservation and a way to accrue more revenue for the government.


Voices from the field: using Photovoice to explore impacts of climate change on mental health in Nepal

02 Sep 2016 01:24:20 GMT

Photovoice is a participatory research method that uses photos as a tool for deconstructing problems and questions raised by community members, with the goal of generating actionable solutions. The method enhances and builds community by allowing members to identify, reflect on, and address their own needs.

“The photovoice method involves participants in the research process as much as possible and , as a result, is a very collaborative and community -enhancing process,” said Libby King MacFarlane, who used the technique in Nepal to address issues of climate change and mental health. “Using images as a point of contact to start discussing complex community topics allows people to unpack issues slowly and organically until they arrive at an actionable solution,” she explained.
It was evident in the exit interviews that the women recognised the benefits of sharing environmental best practices and the importance of building community capacity to adapt to and mitigate environmental issues in the community. They also reported feeling more confident and recognized the importance of sharing stories to ease pain. After the photovoice sessions , the women showed significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and resilience scores compared to before the sessions, further supporting the positive mental health outcomes reported by the women.

Does less engaged mean less empowered? Political participation lags among African youth, especially women

18 Aug 2016 03:34:19 GMT

The African Union (AU) Assembly declared 2009 - 2018 the "African Youth Decade" and released an action plan to promote youth empowerment and development throughout the continent, including by raising young citizens' representation and participation in political processes. The latest results from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 countries reveal a wide gap between the aspirations set forth in the AU policy framework and the reality of youth political engagement in Africa today. The data show that African governments and development partners have considerable work to do to achieve the goal of increased civic and political participation among youth, particularly young women. African youth (aged 18-35) report lower rates of political engagement than their elders across a variety of indicators, including voting in national elections. Young citizens are also less likely to engage in civic activities such as attending community meetings and joining others to raise an issue. While these findings are consistent with research on age differences in voter turnout in advanced democracies, the survey further finds that youth engagement levels have declined over time despite the introduction of regional and national youth empowerment policies. Key findings:political engagement is generally lower among African youth than among their elders, particularly in terms of voting. Two-thirds (65%) of 18- to 35–year-old respondents who were old enough to vote in the last national election say they did so, compared to 79% of citizens above age 35slightly more than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs, while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally.” Compared to their male counterparts, young women report significantly less interest (48% vs. 60%) and discussion (61% vs. 74%)attendance at campaign rallies is the most popular form of pre-electoral engagement among young Africans: One-third (33%) say they attended at least one in the previous year, compared to 37% of older citizens. The gender gap in participation in rallies averages 10 percentage points and is largest in East Africa (14 points) and West Africa (13 points)African youth are less likely than their elders to participate in civic activities: Less than half (47%) of 18- to 35–year-olds say they attended community meetings at least once during the previous year, while 40% joined others to raise an issue (vs. 57% and 47% for older citizens). Young women’s participation also lags behind that of their male peers on these measures of civic activism (by 9 percentage points, on average), particularly in West Africa and North Africa (both by 14 percentage points)not quite half (48%) of youth say they contacted political or community leaders during the previous year to discuss an important issue, with lower reported engagement levels among young women than men (43% vs. 53%)youth participation in demonstrations and protest marches is lower than in more conventional forms of civic and political engagement, but higher than among their elders: 11% of young survey respondents say they attended at least one protest in the previous year (vs. 8% older citizens). Again, women report lower participation levels than their male peers (8% vs. 13%)comparison over time in 16 countries shows that youth engagement levels have declined since 2005/2006 across most of these indicators, particularly interest in public affairs and measures of civic activism (both by 9 percentage points)[...]

The role of community conversations in facilitating local HIV competence: case study from rural Zimbabwe

24 Jun 2016 11:28:45 GMT

This journal article examines the potential of using community conversations to strengthen positive responses to HIV in resource-poor environments. Guided by a facilitator, community members collectively identify local strengths and challenges and brainstorm potential strategies for solving local problems. Researchers conducted a series of such community conversations in Zimbabwe to promote critical thinking and action planning in response to HIV/AIDS and to test the strategy using the concept of community-level HIV/AIDS competence as a lens for analysis. The study found that community conversations hold great potential to help communities recognise their potential strengths and capacities for responding more effectively to HIV, but contextual factors, such as availability of treatment, poverty, poor harvests, and political instability, can help or hinder communities' response plans.

Researchers conducted 18 community conversations (CCs) in two locations, with 6 groups participating in 3 conversations each. During the sessions, participants were asked to "reflect on how they were responding to the challenges of HIV, both as individuals and in community groups, and to think of ways to better support openness about HIV, kindness towards people living with HIV and greater community uptake of HIV prevention and treatment."

The article concludes that "findings suggest that conversations may create social space for people to reflect on the possibility of more effective responses to HIV, but a host of other factors will intervene in shaping whether such reflection leads to concrete behaviour change." However, despite these challenges, the researchers "remain confident that our conversations were successful in the modest aims which we set them - to create spaces in which people might 'break the silence', think critically about obstacles to effective responses and brainstorm action plans. Such dialogue is a vital, if not a sufficient, precondition for health-enhancing behaviour change."

ZAZI: a participatory programme on Sexual and Reproductive Health for women and girls - a toolkit for facilitators

24 Jun 2016 01:23:12 GMT

This toolkit has been developed by the ZAZI campaign for use by peer educators, community outreach workers, faith-based organisations, and traditional health practitioners to help facilitate participatory discussions on sexual and reproductive health with women aged between 20 and 49 years of age. ZAZI is a campaign developed by women for women in South Africa, which celebrates the strength of South African women. It promotes self confidence amongst women so that they can draw upon their own strength to make positive choices for their future, and "encourages young women to resist peer pressure and define their own values so that they can prevent unwanted pregnancies, HIV, have a safe pregnancy and healthy baby when they choose to fall pregnant."(See Related Summary below for more information)

The toolkit can be used for one hour-long, half-day, full-day, or longer workshops, and facilitators are encouraged to adapt sessions to meet the needs of the participating group. There are also suggestions for adapting the workshops for teenage girls aged 16-19.

The toolkit is divided into the following 10 content sections:

  • Section 1: Being a woman in South Africa today
  • Section 2: Women and relationships
  • Section 3: Women and their bodies
  • Section 4: Women’s sexual health
  • Section 5: Women and planning or preventing pregnancy
  • Section 6: Women and safe pregnancy
  • Section 7: Women and the prevention of HIV
  • Section 8: Women and gender-based violence
  • Section 9: Women and healthy lifestyles
  • Section 10: Women getting involved

Each section is made up of the following:

  • a purpose statement, which outlines the content of the section;
  • background to the problem, which outlines why women need to know this information;
  • an information section, which provides essential information on the topic;
  • an activity section, which suggests participatory activities for the facilitator to go through with groups of women, so they can understand how to apply this information in their own lives; and
  • a reference section, which suggests places to go for more information.

The critical role of communities in reaching global targets to end the AIDS epidemic

23 Jun 2016 12:17:33 GMT

This report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Stop AIDS Alliance draws on multiple sources to document the many ways in which communities are advancing the response to AIDS and to explore evidence for the effectiveness of these responses. Four core areas of community-based responses to HIV include: (i) advocacy, campaigning, and participation in accountability; (ii) community-based service delivery; (iii) participatory community-based research; and (iv) financing through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and other funders. Each of these areas is illustrated in the report by examples of community-based actions from various countries and contexts around the world. Network Contact: UNAIDS SecretariatJanuary 26, 2016Categories:GlobalStrategic ThinkingAdvocacyEliminate Stigma and DiscriminationImpact Evaluation DataCommunity ParticipationEmpower MSM Sex Workers TransgenderEnhance Social ProtectionEvaluation MethodologiesPerson-to-PersonInterpersonalEliminate Gender InequalitiesMDG 6. Combat DiseasesIncrease antiretroviral accessResearchAvoid TB DeathsHIV AIDSNGOsPrevent HIV amongst Drug UsersReduce Sexual TransmissionRemove Punitive Laws and PoliciesTreatment, Care and SupportUnited NationsRightsFeaturedUNAIDSHealth Communication - AfricaGlobalHIV/AIDS - AfricaHealth, Rights and MediaHealthHIV / AIDSAfricaGive it 1/5Give it 2/5Give it 3/5Give it 4/5Give it 5/5No votes yet0 Publication DateAugust 18, 2015"Communities were the first responders to HIV three decades ago, and they remain essential in advocating for a robust response to the epidemic, delivering services that can reach everyone in need and tackling HIV-related stigma and discrimination."This report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Stop AIDS Alliance draws on multiple sources to document the many ways in which communities are advancing the response to AIDS and to explore evidence for the effectiveness of these responses. Four core areas of community-based responses to HIV include: (i) advocacy, campaigning, and participation in accountability; (ii) community-based service delivery; (iii) participatory community-based research; and (iv) financing through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and other funders. Each of these areas is illustrated in the report by examples of community-based actions from various countries and contexts around the world.Despite what the report characterises as "substantial achievement" over 30 years of response to HIV - with communities at the forefront of action - challenges remain. For example, gender inequalities faced by young women in sub-Saharan Africa - and stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV in other key populations globally - can lead to denial of access to, or deterrence of people from seeking, vital services. In addition, legal and sociopolitical environments such as punitive laws or abusive law enforcement can obstruct effective access to and delivery of services. Because "communities give a voice to those who need services, provide feedback as to whether policies and programmes are working and suggest how they can be improved", they are key participants in responses that: generate positive health and development outcomes and strengthen health systems; safeguard the rights of those they reach and serve; mobilise communities, including marginalised, socially excluded, and criminalised population groups; improve the quality, equity, and scale of national responses through their participation in accountability and coordination mechanisms; mobilise communities and service providers, building on a sense of shared responsibility and solidarity around i[...]

Tsima community mobilisation materials

23 Jun 2016 11:01:43 GMT

This three part package of materials comprising of a handbook, workshop manual, and toolkit, are designed to support community mobilisation activities around the issue of treatment as prevention. The materials were produced to support the Tsima Community Mobilisation Programme, which aims to "mobilise communities to "Activate HIV Treatment as Prevention"by dramatically increasing community uptake of HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment (ART)."

As stated in the materials, "research shows that ART protects the health of someone living with HIV and greatly reduces the chance that that person will transmit HIV to an uninfected partner. When taken correctly and consistently, ART reduces the amount of virus (or the "viral load") in a person's body so much that it becomes undetectable (i.e. very small numbers of the virus), so there is little virus that can be passed on to an uninfected partner. If a large enough proportion of people get tested, start treatment as soon as they are eligible, and stay on treatment for HIV in our communities, very few people will become infected."

The three Tsima booklets are:

  • Tsima Booklet 1: Community Mobiliser's Handbook - This handbook is intended to be a resource for community mobilisers working with Sonke's community action teams (CAT) to engage men and women on issues of gender, HIV prevention, care and treatment, violence, and human rights.
  • Tsima Booklet 2: Community Mobilisation Workshop Manual - This manual is intended as a resource for community mobilisers and CAT members to guide a series of five two-day workshops. Each workshop has a different set of activities, but many of the same themes around social justice, gender equality, and engaged citizen activism are addressed in all of the workshops.
  • Tsima Booklet 3: Community Mobilisation Toolkit - This toolkit is intended to be used by community mobilisers and CAT members to undertake community-based activities such as street soccer, community theatre, digital stories and engaging community leaders. Some activities may be undertaken in teams or as a group, understanding that the widest input leads to the best result. Mobilisers/CATs can implement only one activity at a time, or combine them to form a larger campaign.

The effect of exposure to political institutions and economic events on demand for democracy in Africa

07 Apr 2016 01:23:39 GMT

Understanding why people demand democracy is important to an evaluation of the prospects for democratic stability. Most researchers examining this question have added national-level variables to multi-level regression models of survey data.

This paper contributes to the investigation of why people de mand democracy by adding new individual - level variables related to individual exposure to political institutions and economic conditions. Its two main questions are: Does exposure to democracy increase the legitimacy of democracy? Is people’s demand for democracy influenced by the past economic performance of their countries?

Regression analysis results show no evidence that national economic performance is relevant for demand for democracy. However, exposure to democratic institutions–measured as the num ber of years lived under either democracy or non-democracy – has a statistically significant, though substantively small, effect on demand for democracy. Overall, the results allow some optimism that as people live under democracy, they internalize its core values and improve its chances of consolidation.

Do citizens reward good service? Voter responses to basic service provision in southern Africa

07 Apr 2016 01:15:04 GMT

Theories of democratic governance posit that citizens should reward politicians for good service and punish them for bad. But does electoral accountability work as theorised, especially in developing country contexts?

Studying southern African democracies, where infrastructural investment in basic services has expanded widely but not universally, the authors find a surprising answer to this question: Voters who receive services are less likely to support the incumbent. First they analyse how changes in local service provision relate to changes in voting returns at the aggregate level and then use geocoded, individual-level survey data to explore the micro-level relationships among service delivery, political attitudes, and voting intentions.

The report finds a negative relationship between change in service provision and change in incumbent vote share. Similarly, at the individual level, those with access to basic services say that they are less likely to vote for the incumbent. The authors provide some preliminary evidence with respect to likely explanations for this surprising result.

Language, education, and citizenship in Africa

07 Apr 2016 01:07:36 GMT

African states are known for their linguistic diversity. Few have spread a single official language widely through their education systems. The preservation of many local languages seems a benefit in terms of minority rights, but some fear that fragmentation may inhibit national cohesion and democratic participation.

This article examines language competence of individuals in 10 states in Africa, highlighting distinctions in types of education systems. It also assesses their attitudes about citizenship and democracy, using Afrobarometer survey data. It shows that immersion systems appear much more effective in spreading a standard language, but that national sentiment has very little to do with proficiency in this official language. It also reveals that citizens armed with literacy in local languages tend to be more participatory, more demanding of greater accountability in government, and more critical of authoritarian rule.

Feminist Africa e-spaces:e-politics

22 Mar 2016 05:21:47 GMT

Feminist Africa (FA) is a continental gender studies journal that provides a platform for intellectual and activist research, dialogue and strategy. Currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, FA is guided by a profound commitment to transforming gender hierarchies in Africa, and seeks to redress injustice and inequality in its content and design. In this edition, the journal brings together a number of different contributors and themes on the topic of feminist engagements with 21st-Century information and communication technologies (ICTs). 

The edition opens with an editorial by Jennifer Radloff that introduces the context of the collection, and the opportunities and challenges that ICTs bring for activists and women’s organisations. Radloff concisely traces the history of ICT use in Africa, and how it has helped shape individual and collective action, before introducing the contributors and their works. 

The format of the journal is structured in four parts. Firstly, there are four feature articles: an examination of the role of e-technologies in Kenya; a case study concerning the 'Joburg Pride' clash in 2012; an exploration of the use of new media technologies among young South African women; and an ethnographic piece on the role that radio plays in the lives of rural Zimbabwean women. Secondly, there are profiles of the Asikana Network, a women-driven group that aims to empower young women and equip them with information and communication technology (ICT), and of the digital visual activism of the website Inkanyiso. 

Part three of the journal consists of conversations between feminist activists on a number of themes concerning activist’s use of ICTs, such as the thoughts of Jan Moolman, feminist writer, editor, and activist, on technology-related violence against women. Finally, in a section titled ‘standpoints’ are several essays on a variety of themes, including the synthesis of African feminism and cyber-activism, digital security as feminist practice, and the role of mobile phone technology in development.

India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: women’s participation and impacts in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Rajasthan

19 Mar 2016 05:05:25 GMT

This research examines women's participation in NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) in selected areas in three states: Kerala, Himachal and Rajasthan. The Indian government's NREGS has succeeded in bringing large numbers of women into paid work, many of them for the first time. 

This report explores the complex reasons why women's participation in the scheme varies significantly across and within states, and suggests improvements that could maximise impact. NREGS has achieved some success in empowering women, economically and socially. But the author suggests that minor changes to the scheme, to address local development challenges and priorities, could deliver better outcomes.

Contestations over indigenous participation in Bolivia’s extractive industry: ideology, practices, and legal norms

17 Mar 2016 10:49:38 GMT

The participatory rights of indigenous peoples have been at the center of conflicts over resource extraction, which have recently increased in number and intensity across Latin America. Using comprehensive empirical data about the Guaraníes’ participation in Bolivia’s gas sector, this study finds that competing claims regarding territory, property, participation, and decision making provide important explanations for contestations over consultation practices and legal norms in the country.

It argues that the main conflicts can be explained by:

  • the Bolivian state’s focus on directly affected communities and those with formally recognized land titles, something that clashes with the Guaraníes’ principle of “territorial integrity”
  • the state’s conviction that it holds a monopoly over subsoil resources, and the limited rights to participation that it is willing to grant as a consequence, which the Guaraníes reject; and
  • the dissonance between state customs and regulations and Guaraní uses and customs


Whose public spaces? Citizen participation in urban planning in Santiago, Chile

17 Mar 2016 10:41:36 GMT

This article describes how community action stopped two planning proposals to build in public spaces in Las Condes, a commune in the metropolitan area of Santiago in Chile. The first proposal was the construction of a shopping mall by a private owner and the second a municipal proposal by the city council to build an enclosure around a public park. Although the author is a resident of the commune, her involvement in these projects has been as an observer, rather than an active member of the community, because for most of the time, she was not in Santiago.

Spotlight on publications: budgets and human rights

16 Mar 2016 03:11:15 GMT

By ratifying human rights treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. But these obligations will do nothing if governments do not allocate public funds to the realisation of those human rights. In the last decade, CSOs and local governments in Latin America have developed budget analysis and design methodologies that incorporate a human rights approach to assess the degree to which governments’ budgets and public policies work towards the fulfilment of human rights. This selection highlights some of the key publications in this emerging field, including Guides and Tool-kits; methodologies for budget analysis of Specific Rights like health, education and the rights of children; and Country Case Studies, that focus on specific countries but look at a variety of rights.

Spotlight on publications: citizen participation in local governance in Latin America

16 Mar 2016 03:05:47 GMT

Citizen participation in governance at the local level has long been acknowledged to play a role in improving public policies. It is seen as enhancing policies’ responsiveness to the population’s needs and their quality, as citizens make creative and innovative proposals to solve development challenges. Furthermore, these local-level mechanisms create a space for the participation of often marginalised groups, while also supporting democratic deepening overall. In the last two decades, many countries in Latin America have experimented with new mechanisms to foster citizen participation. The following publications analyse the experience of Latin American countries in implementing these participation mechanisms at the local level.

Spotlight on publications: design, adoption and implementation of Latin American Freedom of Information Acts

16 Mar 2016 02:55:30 GMT

In the last two decades, Latin American countries – from Brazil, Chile and Colombia to Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Uruguay - have designed and adopted innovative Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs). These FOIAs have helped to increase transparency in government actions, ensure citizens’right to request and access public information and enhance overall accountability.

This selection highlights some of the key publications on Latin American FOIAs’ critical features, the challenges and opportunities of their implementation and use, and the process for adopting them. It divides the publications into two parts: Designing and Adopting FOIAs and FOIA Implementation and Use . These resources – offering access to the Latin American experience – could be useful for countries looking to develop, adopt or strengthen their own legal framework to guarantee transparency and access to information.

Spotlight on publications: human rights in Latin America

16 Mar 2016 02:28:17 GMT

Strong national human rights institutions, an active regional human rights court, a human rights approach to budgeting and strategic litigation by civil society: these are just some of the innovative approaches Latin American countries are taking to improve human rights across the region.

The publications presented in this Spotlight provide insight into some of the key issues and experiences from Latin America, with a particular focus on democratic and judicial reform, the role of regional and national courts in upholding human rights, innovative oversight mechanisms, strategic litigation and emerging hot topics such as anti- corruption strategies.

Spotlight on publications: indigenous and ethnic minority rights

16 Mar 2016 02:25:46 GMT

Indigenous and ethnic minorities are recognised under international law as a collective group with a shared identify and specific rights that governments should protect and guarantee via national frameworks and innovative public policies.

The publications presented in this Spotlight cover some of the key issues related to indigenous and ethnic minority rights in Latin America, with a particular focus on: the evolution and character of indigenous movements; ethnic minority rights; legal reforms for formally recognising collective rights; intercultural education policies; and access to justice.

Spotlight on publications: judicial review for enforcing human rights in Latin America

16 Mar 2016 02:17:01 GMT

In the face of persistent and systematic human rights violations, lawsuits are increasingly being brought before Latin American courts. Through cutting edge rulings, courts in the region have ordered the executive and legislative branches of government to allocate budgets and implement public policies that can effectively realise human rights. The following list of key publications presents various cases from the region and provides insight into the role of the judiciary and other actors – such as public agencies, legislators, plaintiffs, civil society, scholars, and activists – in implementing, enforcing and monitoring compliance of the rulings.

Spotlight on publications: methodologies of Latin American report cards on health

16 Mar 2016 02:03:21 GMT

In the last decades, citizen initiatives formed by academia, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in various Latin American countries have emerged seeking greater participation in social oversight of their cities’ public policies.  The report card methodology is one of the tools these initiatives have used. Report cards - now becoming well-known across the world - are survey assessment tools that gather citizen feedback on various aspects of the quality, efficiency and coverage of public services in order to support informed decision making and advocacy efforts to bring about improvements in those services.

This Spotlight on Publications focuses on the use of report cards to assess quality and access in health care services. After analysing a selection of publications from these initiatives, the author presents four different approaches to report cards that have been implemented in Latin America to gather citizens’ feedback on various aspects of health care. Each of these four publications demonstrates a different methodology used and the results obtained. The emphasis of the analysis is on showcasing the different contents and objectives of these surveys regarding perceptions of health services.

Though only available in Spanish or Portuguese, these publications still offer a useful introduction to the variety of approaches to report cards found in Latin America.

Spotlight on publications: participatory budgeting

16 Mar 2016 01:48:32 GMT

Latin American countries pioneered participatory budgeting (PB), an innovative mechanism enabling citizens to decide how public funds will be spent. PB aims to incorporate citizen perspective into budget designation in order to increase public policies’ impact, enhance transparency in budget allocation and execution, comply with citizens’ right to participate in their own governance and create a budgetary culture among citizens. First launched in Brazil in 1989, PB is now implemented in more than 15 countries in the region. This selection highlights some of the latest and most relevant publications on the topic in Latin America, including Country Case Studies, Multi-Country Surveys and Implementation Guides .

Spotlight on publications: right to consultation in Latin America

16 Mar 2016 01:37:00 GMT

Drawing on case study material from across Latin America, the publications in this overview present and analyse progress made on the right to consultation at the regional and national levels, on-going challenges and key lessons learned.

Changing citizenship in the digital age

14 Mar 2016 11:21:08 GMT

It is clear that many young citizens of this digital and global age have demonstrated interests in making contributions to society. Yet the challenge of engaging effectively with politics linked to spheres of government is difficult for most. A casual look at world democracies suggests that many of the most established ones are showing signs of wear. Parties are trying to reinvent themselves while awkwardly staying the course that keeps them in power. In the press, in everyday conversation, and often from the mouths of politicians, politics has become a dirty word rather than a commonly accepted vocabulary for personal expression. 1 And so, younger generations are disconnecting from conventional politics and government in alarming numbers. These trends in youth dissatisfaction with conventional political engagement are not just occurring in the United States, but have parallels in other democracies as well, including Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 2 At the same time, many observers properly note that there are impressive signs of youth civic engagement in nongovernmental areas, including increases in community volunteer work, high levels of consumer activism, and strong involvement in social causes from the environment to economic injustice in local and global arenas. 3 Some even see civic engagement in online social networking and entertainment communities. For example, Henry Jenkens, Cathy Davidson, Mimi Ito, and Jochai Benkler argue that many forms of shared activity online (from blogging, to conflict and protest behavior in gaming, fan and entertainment sites) represent forms of civic or media engagement. 4


Toward a cognitive perspective on transition

11 Mar 2016 06:07:37 GMT

The author carries out an uncommon analysis of economic transition and change in terms of human consciousness, perception, knowledge, learning, interpretation and response.

He highlights the role of institutions in transition and argues that the real driving force, which is rarely the central thrust of analyses on transition, is the creativity of human agency--coordinated to underpin human institutions which represent society's stock of knowledge.

Adopting Hayek's concepts, the author argues that the result of transition within this framework cannot be precisely known, and that there will be unintended consequences reflected in the institutions that eventually emerge--thoughts perhaps pertinent to "nontransition" countries, such as the Philippines where there are efforts aimed at comprehensive social transformation.

[adapted from source]

The promise of transformation through participation: an analysis of communal councils in Caracas, Venezuela

10 Mar 2016 10:48:39 GMT

The Hugo Chavez’s administration endorsed the creation of thousands of allegedly self-governing CCs in every neighbourhood of every city or town in the country. The initial goal was to address people’s most urgent needs while including them in the decision-making process in their communities. The passing of President Chavez, a charismatic leader who was the driving force behind Chavismo and the Bolivarian Revolution, represents a challenge to the participatory process where CCs have been framed. Within this overall context, a radical approach to participation should lay the foundations of a State-led process of social transformation of the left. Based on this, the objectives of this paper are: on the one hand, to propose a set of indicators to study spaces of participation at the community level framed in a State-led process of social transformation; on the other, to show the viability of these indicators in the analysis of Communal Councils in the context of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. These indicators refer to the recognition of ‘the other’; autonomy from state institutions; mobilization of the community; and design and internal dynamics.

In order to advance these objectives, this paper explores how participation in the CCs has been operationalized under the Bolivarian Revolution. Therefore, this research has empirically implemented the proposed indicators in six CCs of Caracas through semi-structure interviews with community leaders. The results suggest that the type of participation offered is one strongly conditioned by an ideological system which promises transformation but impedes this transformation in practice. The author has called this situation a ‘conditioned participation’.

Civil society and participation: a literature review

10 Mar 2016 10:21:28 GMT

This literature review is divided into six sections. The first section briefly describes the theoretical and empirical background of debates about civil society and participation: the democratization process of the 1980s. The second section examines the first and second generation of studies of the best-known participatory mechanism in Brazil – participatory budgeting (PB). Next, this review turns attention toward research on policy councils, which fuelled more theoretical advances than studies of PB. A short section presents the few available studies about participation in the Northeast region of Brazil – a still largely uncharted territory in the literature. The fifth section discusses normative debates about the meaning and purpose of participation. Although the debate is not as contentious as it was in the early-2000s, two distinct views about participation still mark this literature. The last and longest section analyzes studies that treat citizen participation as a constitutive part of the representative system, which can help to improve government accountability and increase the quality of democracy.

A practical guide to social audit as a participatory tool to strengthen democratic governance, transparency and accountability

10 Mar 2016 03:45:52 GMT

This Practical Guide analyses social auditing experiences around the world and extracts important lessons that intend to provide practical guidance to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other United Nations agencies officers, advisers, and partners, as well as development practitioners, donors and governments. It examines the required elements for the design and implementation of social audits, explains the enabling environment that make these exercises successful, and offers practical insights based on practices and experiences.

Democracies around the world, particularly those that are in the process of consolidation, face enormous challenges not only in the economic and social realms, but also in the democratic governance sphere. Although leaders in these countries, in different levels of government (national and sub-national) are now elected through relatively fair and transparent processes, once in power they often face critical challenges to adequately represent their constituencies and respond to their needs and demands. This often increases disappointment, cynicism and apathy on the part of the citizens, and can adversely affect the quality and effectiveness of democratic governance and create opportunities for corrupt practices and waste. In large part, this democratic governance deficit results not only from a lack of institutional and technical capacity to resolve long neglected and increasingly complex social and economic problems, but also from a failure to adhere to basic democratic governing principles, including transparency and accountability.

Citizens elect their leaders expecting them to represent their constituencies effectively and to introduce, implement and monitor public policies that will respond to collective needs. Similarly, constituencies expect democratically elected leaders and public officials to be responsible for their decisions and actions and to be accountable to the citizens they serve. Democratic governance encourages citizens to reward and/or punish public officials for their performance and hold them accountable.

Implementing right to information: a case study of Mexico

10 Mar 2016 01:37:05 GMT

In June 2002, President Vicente Fox (2000-06) signed a landmark transparency bill into law. The adoption of the Access to Public Information and Transparency Law (Transparency Law) was a distinctive moment in Mexican politics. - See more at:

The passage of the law was the result of the synergy of reform-minded public officials, members of parliament, civil society activists, journalists, media executives, and academics. It is recognized by experts and practitioners around the world as one of the strongest RTI laws in the world. The establishment of the Federal Institute for Access to Information (IFAI), a federal agency responsible for safeguarding the right to public information and ruling on citizens’ appeals of denied information requests, has been a milestone achievement.

Overall, the implementation record of the Mexican Transparency Law for the last nine has been positive. The number of information requests is consistently increasing, most requests receive a positive reply, and most appeals are resolved in favor of the requester. The law has provided individuals with opportunities to access information about the operation and management of government agencies. Civil society organizations have used the law to obtain valuable information about the operation and financial management of important government programs, and they have used this information to demand greater accountability from public officials. Nearly a decade since the implementation of the Transparency Law, Mexicans have access to public information that was simply not available before.The number of information requests has increased consistently, and most of these requests receive positive replies. Similarly, most of the appeals to the IFAI are resolved in favor of the requester.

Encouraging parents’ engagement in public education reform

09 Mar 2016 12:18:17 GMT

Mexico has a large public education system where the ratio of public to private elementary schools is roughly 10:1. Mexico spends more per student than most industrialized nations and yet exhibits the lowest levels of academic achievement, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2012. The laws would dismantle the stronghold of teacher’s unions, which have the second highest paid education staff among OECD nations, and have so far controlled teacher hiring, promotions and competency exams.

It is in this landscape of reform where the digital platform Mejora tu Escuela, or ‘Improve Your School’ has entered, seeking a greater involvement of parents in transforming the system which educates their children.

Local perspectives on climate change: participatory video in Somotillo, Nicaragua

09 Mar 2016 11:20:11 GMT

Participatory Video is a methodology premised on particular attitudes and behaviors that value collective and consensual decision-making and equalized power relations, seeking local solutions to local problems, through coming together, reflecting, communicating, and taking positive action. The PV project has been conducted following the successful implementation of the Quesungual Agroforestry System in the community of La Danta in the municipality of Somotillo (department of Chinandega, Nicaragua).

The objectives of this PV project were to:

  • increase participants’ awareness of ways they can influence and mitigate the effects of climate change they’re subject to
  • empower local groups to take part in a process of analysis and response that celebrates indigenous knowledge and practice
  • generate a better understanding of gender differences as they relate to climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • generate knowledge and information that allows future projects in the region to better understand the local context when creating inclusive climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that have a higher potential for success

It can be concluded that the PV tool works especially well with young people, who tend to naturally present a certain curiosity for technology and creative, imaginative ways to approach various subjects. The PV methodology gave them confidence and ensured all participants had a voice in the final video message. An element that resonated is that giving community figureheads a more prominent role in project dissemination activities can increase the adoption of new technologies. Aside from being more effective than brief training sessions which may not necessarily be a part of a larger plan of long-term capacity development, it will help communities strengthen their trust in their indigenous knowledge.

Bringing learning to light: the role of citizen-led assessments in shifting the education agenda

09 Mar 2016 04:55:02 GMT

As governments and donors focused on increasing access to education in the wake of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the issue of learning received comparatively little concerted attention. Some organisations working in countries where access was rapidly increasing took notice of the fact that, while rising enrollment rates were being celebrated, there was little evidence of whether or not learning was taking place.

One of the results of this realisation was the emergence of the citizen-led assessment movement, initiated by Pratham in India in 2005. The movement is an attempt by civil-society organisations to gather evidence on learning and use it for two main purposes: first, to increase awareness of low learning outcomes and second, to stimulate actions that are intended to address the learning gap. 

In an effort to more deeply understand the citizen-led assessment model and to evaluate its ability to measure learning, disseminate findings, and stimulate awareness and action, Results for Development Institute (R4D) evaluated four citizen-led assessments between May 2013 and November 2014: the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in India, Beekunko in Mali, Jàngandoo in Senegal, and Uwezo in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This summary includes a subset of recommendations that draw on the key evaluation findings.

Can states continue to govern the new citizenry using old paradigms?: the political challenges of open government in Latin America and the Caribbean

09 Mar 2016 02:39:02 GMT

The concept of Open Government has emerged as a new public policy paradigm. It is a response to the rise of a better-informed and more demanding citizenry, which seeks to influence public service design and provision. The practical dimension of the components of Open Government, above all those related to citizen participation and collaboration, make implementing this paradigm even more complex.

Based on a review of the literature, international evidence, and a specific case of co-design and co-execution of a public service at the local level, this paper analyzes the political challenges that the Open Government model poses. Furthermore, it evaluates the incentives, obstacles, and
opportunities that the Open Government agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean will have to tackle if it is to be feasible and successful.

This study consists of four sections. The first section analyzes the specific challenges related to Open Government strategies. It pays special attention to the two latter pillars of Open Government — citizen participation and collaboration — as crucial axes and critical factors for successfully understanding the magnitude of the challenge that this paradigm shift implies. The second section provides elements that help to explain the political context in which this debate is happening. Specifically, it analyzes certain trends in political institutionality in the world at large and in Latin America and the Caribbean in particular, such as the emergence of two new actors — technology and a new type of citizen — that have to be taken into consideration when it comes to understanding, designing and implementing any Open Government policy. The third section, based on a specific case, delves into the practical implications of implementing participatory and collaborative policies. It contains a critical review of best practices, and the obstacles and opportunities associated with Open Government policies at the local level. The fourth, and final, chapter presents the paper’s conclusion and is set out in two sections. The first reflects on the attitude that civil servants must adopt in order to facilitate Open Government strategies. The second section summarizes the questions that have arisen throughout the course of this stud

Stella Oyedepo and the feminist vision in the Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested

08 Mar 2016 12:48:47 GMT

Feminist activism and civic participation can come in many forms, including theatre. The prolific playwright Stella Oyedepo is arguably one of the most visible practitioners of theatre in Nigeria today, with plays including Survive, We Will, The Missing Ingredient, and Brain has no Gender. Oyedepo’s feminism strongly informs her work, which centres around the many ills, perversions, and misplaced social values she perceives in Nigerian society. Her drama has spoken out against the violence women face in society, and has proffered educational empowerment of women to address their marginalisation.

This essay by John Yeseibo examines one of Oyedepo’s plays in particular, The Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested, to identify and analyse Oyedepo’s feminist vision. It begins by offering a synopsis; a club of impressionable women, led by a frustrated and "beefy" Captain Sharp, embark on a rebellion against the injustices meted out by their husbands. The women take on many roles traditionally regarded as being in the domain of men, but when the men do likewise and take on the roles of women, the disgust felt by one wife, Salwa, spells doom for the rebellion.

Having analysed the play, Yeseibo concludes that the purpose of the play is to challenge institutionalised male monopoly of leadership in decision-making roles, and to emphasise the need to reverse this trend. Also predominant however is the belief that men themselves need to be liberated as a necessary condition in redressing the marginalisation of women. Oyedepo is of the view that radical feminism will not work in the Nigerian context, and will not lessen the denigration of women in society. Instead, complementarity is needed as the panacea for socio-political-economic transformation. 

Analytical paper: the right of women to public political space

08 Mar 2016 03:28:41 GMT

Published by Nazra for Feminist Studies, a group that aims to build an Egyptian feminist movement, this analytical paper examines the rights of women to public political space in Egypt of 2013, following a new wave of revolution which led to the removal of Mohammed Morsi from power. The paper aims to shed more light on policies and laws adopted by different institutions of the state, namely the Constitution and Family Law, and focus on the extent to which these policies affect women's participation in public political space. The first section is an examination of the status of women in the last constitution of Egypt (suspended by the time of writing), and notes a number of fundamental flaws and examples of deep-rooted gender-based inequalities. These include: the unrepresentative nature of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the constitution, as shown by the lack of Christians, Nubians, Bedouins, and other racial and religious minorities groups, as well as a meagre 6% representation of women; the discriminatory criteria for selection of the members of the Assembly; the reduction of provisions protecting women to a single, non-specific statement on equality; a counter-productive focus on women in the context of family, viewing women as divorcees, widows, and mothers rather than equal citizens; and that even though the constitution prohibited forced human exploitation, abuse, and trafficking, it does so while neglecting to frame such concerns as rights unto themselves. Next, the authors talk about the status of women in Family Law, one of the most important legislations to be discussed in this context. Women's position in the public space is connected to her position in the private space, since the latter is highly influential when it comes to the formation of the kind of life women experience and want to experience, beyond their roles as mothers and wives. Although most Egyptians laws are supposed to have moved away from the religious courts of the 19th Century, judgements nevertheless continue to engage with and reproduce socially conservatives values and religious customs. Yet, while Family Law may be governed by religious and societal principles that both affect it and get reproduced by it, it also has political dimensions that differ according to the nature of the ruling regime. In spite of restrictions, women are still organising and making a difference, as exemplified by the amendments won in 2000 which granted increased rights to women concerning divorce, and increased the legal marriage age from 16 to 18. However, conflicts regarding Family Law are far from over. The twin pressure from religious and state gender-based discrimination must be tackled in a way that connects women’s personal affairs in the private space to her ambitions in the public space. So long as Family Law continues to embody inequality, be it through the concept of absolute guardianship (Qawama) of men over women, the unequal shar[...]

The Raising Her Voice global programme

08 Mar 2016 02:39:20 GMT

Oxfam’s Raising Her Voice (RHV) programme is predicated on the alarming inequalities women systemically face around the world. On average, women earn less than half of men, while women account for roughly two-thirds of those who cannot read or write globally. Seeking to address these inequalities and empower women, RHV focuses on long-term and collaborative processes to attain social transformation.

This case study examines the programme as a whole, explaining the feminist theory of change underpinning RHV as including three broad spheres: personal, political, and social, all of which influence women’s opportunities to participate in governance. These areas, once identified and understood, can then be changed in order to strengthen women’s voices. The RHV programme itself focuses on four main areas: enabling poor and marginalised women activists to network and advocate; working with public institutions, including traditional structures; empowering civil society organisations to achieve poor women’s rights as citizens; and disseminating lessons and good practice.

The various aspects involved in these areas are discussed, before wider lessons on the potential benefits of a global programme approach are presented in the conclusion. These include: more effective and manageable disbursement of funds; the potential for ‘cross-fertilisation’ of ideas and lessons; enhanced motivation via being part of a global project; and more direct links between global advisers and local country staff. There are also disadvantages though, one of which is that the common denominator, in this particular case Oxfam, can take away some of the focus that should possibly be aimed at being context specific and understated. 

Gender equality as a pathway for sustainable development: lessons learned in Eastern and Southern Africa

04 Mar 2016 11:29:09 GMT

In order to advance sustainable development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is necessary to address cross-cutting issues on gender, environment, and climate change simultaneously. Despite this, a key challenge remains in ensuring that such integrated approaches are prioritised and implemented in national, sector, and local budgets. That is the problem discussed in this gender brief by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which draws on the experiences of an ongoing partnership between UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme. The brief includes examples of gender, environment, and climate change integration in policy and programming in Mozambique, research in Malawi and Uganda, and programming in Tanzania, as well as in areas concerning the strengthening of institutional capacities and knowledge sharing.


The key messages highlighted by the gender brief emphasise that addressing gender, environment, and climate change as cross-cutting issues can advance sustainable development and empower women, and that this will necessitate the strengthening of institutional and stakeholder capacities. Furthermore, data are needed to demonstrate the added value of integrating gender into climate and natural resource frameworks to convince decision-makers to take action. Additionally, proven climate- and gender-smart technologies must be quickly up-scaled.


The brief closes by presenting three key pieces of advice:


  • It is important to inform policy-makers and practitioners in the design and implementation of cross-sectoral, gender-sensitive climate and environment policies and programmes.
  • Concerted action and partnerships leveraging government, the legislature, civil society, and the private sector are needed to enact policies that can achieve the SDGs.
  • Partnerships between UN agencies and other multilateral organisations should be strengthened to increase support for the integration of gender, environment, and climate-linked concerns in policies, budgets, and programmes.

Gender-focused, community-led development in rural Africa: The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy

04 Mar 2016 11:16:13 GMT

The Hunger Project is a global, non-profit organisation committed to the sustainable end to world hunger. For the last twenty years, they have been supporting the implementation of the African created and led Epicenter Strategy, which has proven to be an effective, affordable, and replicable strategy that has helped to mobilise nearly 2000 communities into 123 community hubs known as ‘epicenters’. Around 1.6 million Africans are estimated to have benefited from the strategy, and in 2014 alone, nearly 46,000 people were trained in nutrition, more than 850,000 kilos of food was stored, and 3,665 children enrolled in Epicenter-based schools. This brief outlines the Epicenter Strategy, draws on experiences to provide lessons learned, and advocates the wider importance of community inclusion and women’s empowerment in sustainable development.


The opening section of the brief describes what the Epicenter Strategy consists of, namely four distinct phases: the mobilisation of communities through workshops, and the establishment of networks between communities, and with local government; the community-led construction of an L-shaped Epicenter building, complete with food bank, meeting hall, public latrines, clean water, and a health centre; the commencement of work to address the needs of the community in health and nutrition, education, food security, microfinance, women’s empowerment, advocacy and alliance building, and the environment; and lastly, a two-year transition period where monitoring remains in  place, but the centre is facilitated in becoming self-sufficient and sustainable.


A case study is presented in the words of Dina Amartey, who joined The Hunger Project’s women’s empowerment programme and went on to become a trained animator in Ghana. Dina benefited hugely from the meetings and activities, learning how to be more independent, and developing a vision. The brief goes on to discuss the work of The Hunger Project in empowering communities in: leveraging the resources of local government; sustainable food and nutrition security; education and adult literacy; health and disease prevention; water, sanitation, and hygiene; enterprise and youth development; establishing global partnerships; and measuring self-reliance.


Mutual benefits of emPOWERing women for sustainable and inclusive development

04 Mar 2016 04:53:05 GMT

The energy and gender nexus is based on the recognition that men and women have different needs and priorities with regard to energy, stemming from gendered societal and cultural roles. Without access to energy, women often face especially exhausting and time-consuming work when undertaking basic subsistence tasks. This can constrain them from accessing education and livelihood-enhancing opportunities. Another gendered aspect of energy is that of safety; for example, non-existent or insufficient street lighting, and women and girls made to travel long distances to collect firewood, increase the occurrence of violence against them.   To raise awareness of the important nature of the gender and energy nexus, this publication provides an overview of work currently being conducted by UNIDO and others. Following an introduction, the majority of the publication is dedicated to discussing the best practices related to engendering energy projects and programmes. Research draws on numerous case studies of active programmes and initiatives, covering a number of key sectors and processes, including:   Mainstreaming gender in regional sustainable energy centres: energy presents an ideal entry point to promoting gender equality, as illustrated in case studies of the Island Women Open Network, which convenes a powerful advocacy group for sustainable energy and gender issues in small island developing states, and a programme on gender mainstreaming in energy access in West Africa. Engendering sustainable cities: inclusiveness, cultural adequacy, fairness, and gender equality are crucial aspects of a sustainable city, and energy, as an integral component of urbanity, can and should take such considerations into account, including adequate lighting to protect women from violent crime. Engendering renewable energy projects: an example of positive work toward including women in renewable energy and promoting economic empowerment, the Gambian government adopted a renewable energy law that required the establishment of a fund designed to provide women and youth entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector with grants and support. Addressing women’s basic energy needs: women play a crucial role in the adoption and spread of clean household cooking solutions, as evidenced by initiatives concerning clean cooking fuel in Zanzibar, the promotion of energy efficient brewing in Burkina Faso, and energy-efficient stoves in micro- and small-scale food production in Chad. Engendering the energy efficiency sector: barriers for women in this sector were identified by the Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement Project in South Africa, including discrimination, limited access to information and training, and underrepresentation in management, leading to the development of activities to promote gender equality, and adjustments to tr[...]

Water quality and fisheries issues accompanying population growth in the Philippines

26 Feb 2016 10:58:17 GMT

Fishing should be an employment of last resort. This article argues why through analysis of water quality and fisheries in conjunction to the role of human population and overfishing on yields.

Water financing programs: creating incentives for private sector participation

26 Feb 2016 04:21:36 GMT

Lack of access to safe drinking water takes its toll on the health and productivity of people, especially poor households.

The 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) reports that about 15.73 million Filipinos still do not have access to a safe water supply. This can be attributed to the low level of investments in water supply and sanitation. The PDP notes that this is highly linked to the lack of a coherent water financing framework in the Philippines.

Traditionally, the government has provided financing to the water supply sector through budgetary appropriation and foreign loans coursed through the Local Water Utilities Administration and government financial institutions. However, there are limitations to what government agencies can do with public financing of water delivery systems. It will be helpful to think of innovative approaches to entice private sector participation in the water supply sector.

This policy note argues the case for working with the private sector on innovative financing schemes for the water supply sector. Public-private partnership or private sector participation arrangements or schemes may provide innovative schemes to address the inaccessibility of safe water in small municipalities or rural areas.

Assessment of the Bottom-up Budgeting Process for FY 2015

23 Feb 2016 04:07:14 GMT

The Aquino administration through the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster (HDPRC) and Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster (GGACC) launched the Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) exercise in 2012 in time for the preparation of the 2013 National Expenditure Program. The BUB process is one of the major reform initiatives of the Aquino administration and has been tagged as such from several perspectives. First, it is seen as a component of its budget reform thrusts that are aimed at making the national government budgeting process more responsive to local needs. Second, the BUB is also viewed as part of the democracy/ empowerment reform as it opens another avenue for people’s participation in local planning and budgeting and for generating demand for good governance at the local level. Third, it is also be perceived as part of local governance reform in the sense that it provides incentives for good local governance.

This paper assesses the conduct of the FY 2015 round of the BUB in 12 municipalities in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental and Quezon. Specifically, it aims to (1) examine how the key steps in the planning and prioritization of projects under the BUB
for the FY 2015 cycle are implemented on the ground in terms of extent of participation, LGUCSO engagement, and integration of BUB process in local planning process; (2) report on the progress and identify bottlenecks in the implementation of sub-projects identified during the FY 2013 BUB process; and (3) to provide insights on areas for further improvement for the subsequent rounds. In this sense, this assessment is focused on the process rather than on the outcomes of the BUB.

Bottom-up budgeting: people's participation at work

23 Feb 2016 04:05:14 GMT

As part of the government's effort to pursue sustained and inclusive growth and, at the same time, promote good governance at the local level, the Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) exercise—also called the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) process—was initiated in 2012. It is a reform measure that aims to make the national budget a participatory process. Through the BUB, the government hopes to involve citizens in identifying projects that they believe will be beneficial for their own communities. This policy note discusses the concept of participatory budgeting and how it works. Specifically, it looks at the Philippine government’s BUB process from planning to implementation of projects. Initial findings of an initial evaluation by PIDS in 12 municipalities and cities in four provinces representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are also discussed.