Episode 36: Accountability and Openness

In this episode, Rakesh Rajani and Martin Tisné discuss accountability and openness.

Rakesh Rajani and Martin Tisne

Rakesh Rajani is a Tanzanian civil society leader who currently leads Twaweza (meaning ‘we can make it happen’ in Swahili), a 10-year initiative to enhance access to information, citizen agency, and public accountability in East Africa. Until the end of 2007 he served as the founding Executive Director of HakiElimu, an independent organization that promotes citizen engagement in education in Tanzania. He advises/serves on several boards, including Revenue Watch InternationalAidspan (a watchdog of the Global Fund), the International Budget Partnership (IBP), ONE, the Foundation for Civil Society in Tanzania (FCS), and theHewlett/Gates Foundations initiative on Quality Education in Developing Countries (QEDC).

Martin Tisné is As director of policy at Omidyar Network. Before that, he director of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative where he helped found the Open Government Partnership. Previously, Martin founded the aid transparency campaign Publish What You Fund, helped launch Integrity Watch Afghanistan, and was a founding staff member at Tiri.

This is the first of three episodes of Development Drums which look at the relationship between effective and accountable states, active citizenship and development.

Download the transcript.

6 thoughts on “Episode 36: Accountability and Openness

  1. Why do we keep trying to solve have-no-leverage service delivery problems with give-more-info solutions?
    Interesting discussion, though, frankly, discouraging also.
    I continue to be disappointed that development experts (esp those working in the openness/transparency/social accountability domain) are so very unwilling to look systematically at the experiences with trying to solve (public) service delivery problems by elevating user information (sometimes complemented with assistance to organize). In healthcare services it has failed to have an effect over and over again (and not only in developing countries). And we know why. People in the community usually have pretty darned good info about services (see the work of Ken Leonard on this very issue in Tanzania). Why don’t they use that knowledge to improve services? They lack leverage of any kind over public service provider organizations. You can’t solve have-no-leverage problems with additional-info solutions. I note this was confirmed with the Devaraja water pipe case you mentioned.

    The single case (Bjorkman/Svensson 2009) that suggests otherwise collected a SINGLE time slice of performance data after the intervention. Any service delivery reform researcher can tell you that a single point of post-reform performance data tells you little or nothing about the impact of a reform – as the results’ trajectories over time are anything but linear. With a single time slice of perf data – whether you find your intervention “works” or “doesn’t work” is determined solely by the time you select for your “after” data collection. For a great review of this issue wrt development program interventions pls see this Development Impact blog entry by Michael Woolcock.

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  3. Interesting as ever. Technically, be careful with the audio levels (fortunately thing have improved a lot since the early days). Those audio inserts in the ‘add breaks’ were way lower than the main sections.

  4. Thanks John – that’s good to know. I tried running it through a compressor to bring the levels into line but ended up with a lot of hiss and some distortion across the interview, so I tried to do bring up the volume manually. I guess my ear isn’t good enough! It is GREAT to have this kind of feedback.

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