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Contributor: Babak Fakhamzadeh

Babak FakhamzadehWhat the!?
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A climate of non disclosure could be undermining accountability in schools

A climate of non-disclosure pervades the sharing of basic school related information, despite policies and pronouncements to the contrary, and may be key factor undermining accountability in the quest for quality education.

Debt watch September 2010

Ministry of finance Tanzania announced recently that the government will borrow commercially from foreign lenders in 2010/11. Most of the money will go into infrastructure financing. Given that new commercial borrowing is possible mainly because Tanzania enjoyed significant debt relief under HIPC and MDRI, should this be opportunity be embraced? Could this lead to Tanzania requesting another debt relief in the future?

What we want to achieve

Real change takes time. We are not keen to just do easy activities and check implementation boxes. That is why the Twaweza initiative has a ten year time frame, with two goals. First, we seek to enhance 'citizen agency', by which we mean the ability of men, women and young people to get better information more quickly, cheaply and reliably; monitor and discuss what's going on; speak out; and act to make a difference. This is important for its own sake, because every person should feel a sense of empowerment or control over their own lives. It is also important because it contributes to our second goal: which is to enable many more people to enjoy quality basic education, health care and clean water. Work towards our goals is phased over a ten year period, and will be carefully evaluated by an independent external unit.

How change happens

Twaweza has been established on the basis that we need more than top-down reform we need citizen involvement and oversight. Twaweza believes that informed and motivated citizens are the most powerful agents of sustainable change. We view citizen agency as both a goal in itself and an effective means to improve service delivery and public resource management. Unfortunately, however, most citizens lack the information and opportunities they need to hold their governments accountable.

Twaweza Situation Analysis

What works in East Africa? What doesn't? What have been the most important developments in the last ten years? What are the most powerful constraints and opportunities for the next 5-10 years? What really drives change? How do resources flow and decisions get made? How do problems get solved?

The Twaweza initiative has been informed by an engagement with these questions- through the work of its initiators in East Africa and elsewhere, our reading, and our interaction with citizens. These questions have been core concerns in the country assessments undertaken in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

What informs our thinking

Throughout East Africa states are failing to deliver the basic services that citizens need. Legal reforms have made some headway, but the problem is implementation. Government leaders and elites are divorced from the real lives of their constituents, and the same can be said of many non-governmental organisations whose work is often poorly coordinated, governed by short-term goals and shifting donor requirements. The media landscape faces constraints through consolidation of media ownership and control over editors, and state broadcasters are yet to transform themselves into public broadcasters. Missing, across East Africa, are the long-term strategies necessary for producing real change and the reflective, learning-oriented practices that can generate lessons about what works and what doesn't. However, space for direct citizen engagement has grown. The use of mobile phones has dramatically increased communication possibilities. Young people are the key demographic, and can be seen as a key resource for change. There is greater citizen engagement with budgets which are increasingly coming under scrutiny. Our country assessments showed up six themes that have become key to our programme work.

How we work

Twaweza aims to foster an ecosystem of change, through building on, as well as triggering, the actions of citizens to make a difference, and by scaling up such actions through brokering and supporting partnerships.
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