iHub Research is currently attending theAfrica Forum on Civil Society and Governance Assessments (10-12 Nov. 2011) in Dakar, Senegal. The Africa Forum has brought together over 100 participants – civil society, research institutes and UNDP representatives over 30 countries across Africa. Broad themes of the conference include:
Day 1: Levering the Power of Partnerships for Governance Assessments
Day 2: Scrutinizing the Civil Society Context: Towards New Forms of Participatory Assessment in an African Context
Day 3: Sparking Change: Technology and Innovation in Governance Assessments
We look forward to using this forum to help usfurtherdevelop the indicators to be studied next year during our m-governance research.
The day began with opening remarks by the UNDP Regional Centre Dakar Manager, Director, a.i., UNDP Civil Society Division, Programme Director of Trust Africa), and a Representative from The Conseil conomique et Social du Sngal. A panel on the various futures of governance in Africa followed, led by key note speaker, Dr. Alioune Sall. APRM+10 experiences were discussed in a second panel before breaking for lunch. I joined Ushahidi’s Daudi Were, SODNET’s Philip Thigo, and UNDP Oslo Governance Centre’s Christopher Wilson, and we sat outside with a breath-taking view of the Atlantic Ocean. After a delicious meal, we returned for two more sessions – one on translating data to action, and the last a breakout session where I joined with Ms. Florence Dennis, who shared her experiences on researching for the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition’s Annual State of Anti-Corruption.
Some Questions from Day 1
During the first sessions, a phrase kept being repeated. “The assessments are FOR whom and BY whom?” This is an important thing to keep in mind when formulating your own assessment projects as it affects the entire research design. I thought it also important to keep in mind the question posed during the APRM+10 session. “What is the value of different versions of markings? What is the value of different gradings?” I believe that is to say, the markings/gradings must have some meaning to them and if possible, indicate what action should result from that marking.
People talked extensively today about reports and collecting data in order to write the report. But I wonder if reports are the best method to disseminate findings. We should keep in mind questions like, “For whom are these assessments?”. If the answer is government technocrats, then well and good, reports and white papers may be the best answer. If the answer is civil society, then it seems to make more sense that the findings are shared in different formats than simply static documents. Is this where technology comes in? If we use technology for collecting civil society opinion, perhaps we also use technology to share the aggregated findings… More to come on the use of technology on Day 3….