PUTTING CITIZENS AT THE
CENTER
"Where civil society thrives, governments operate with more transparency and
accountability. This creates a tangible impact on the lives of everyday citizens."
- Ben Rhodes

________
HOW WE THINK

> new ideas, research and testing to address pivotal problems

WHAT PROBLEMS ARE WE TRYING TO SOLVE?

Twaweza uses the problem-driven iterative adaption approach. Rather than identifying the solutions to intractable social problems which are complex and complicated, and pre-defining the pathway to change, we instead highlight the problems we are trying to solve. This allows for flexibility in how we tackle these problems; this approach builds in opportunities for reflection, learning and course correction along the way.

Our work is prompted by the deteriorating situation of citizens’ most basic freedoms and rights in Tanzania and the region at large. The very existence of civil society is increasingly under threat. Review of research and evidence, citizens’ voices and government priorities, as well as our own analysis, reveals two critical and connected problems facing our region for Twaweza to address:

  1. Citizens, particularly the marginalized majorities (youth, women and the elderly) are not able to solve their problems and/or exert productive influence over the forces that shape their lives; that is, they have very little agency.
  2. The conditions that enable such citizen agency – including access to information and freedom of expression and association – are weak and deteriorating.

We contend that, without active citizens and conducive (freer) civic space conditions, citizens and countries more broadly will not be able to prosper because inclusive economic growth requires inclusive governance. Only when citizens are able to exert power over their own lives will they be able to meaningfully contribute to development and personally thrive. There is a growing body of evidence to support our contention.

WHAT DO WE DO?

We have a three-part inter-connected mission:

To demonstrate how citizens can come together to collectively address their systemic development problems, and make government work better for them

We train and activate local change agents to mobilise the community to participate in decision-making and development activities as well as engage with the government to voice their demands, and we collect citizens’ views and challenges and channel them to the local and national government. We spread stories of success from communities to the country, aiming to shift norms, policies and action. 

The core of this work involves problematizing well, looking beyond the surface of how problems manifest locally to diagnose and address the structural challenges that perpetuate these problems. The effects will resonate beyond the selected areas in which Twaweza is galvanising this type of collective action through the amplification effect of Twaweza’s work, pushing these stories into public and policy discourse.

To enable citizens’ voices, interests and experiences to be heard and taken seriously in decision-making across multiple governance levels

We collect, transport and amplify citizens’ voices, interests and experiences and share these with the local and national government, directly and through media; we facilitate direct interaction between citizens and government including through media.

The core of this work involves collecting nationally, and in some cases locally, representative views and experiences from citizens and injecting these into public and policy debates and spaces of interaction between citizens and leaders. Twaweza will also pursue a more direct representation of citizen voices in decision-making and the collection of citizen views for direct persuasion.

To promote and protect open civic space which enables citizens to freely assemble or organise, speak and act

We conduct research and analysis, convene coalitions, amplify local experiences and successes; we advocate as insiders and through public and media pressure. Where necessary we litigate to protect basic rights and freedoms.

The core of this work entails creating persuasive materials, injecting these into policy discussions and media using a range of engagement tactics and strategies. Working in peer and unusual coalitions will be central to successfully resisting the closing of civic space as will tactical and strategic litigation.

Our interventions are deliberately highly connected: hyper-local community engagements fuel national debates, unearth new ideas and shed light on unseen problems, amplifying the results and benefits of civic participation in the service of protecting democratic space and demonstrating its value. Voices, curated by Twaweza or representing their communities more directly, will be infused into national and local discourse, again with a view to advancing the reclaiming of open civic space. And advances in pushing back against restricted civic space, in turn, reinforce, enable and catalyse citizen participation and voice.

WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO ACHIEVE?

  1. Citizens have the ability, willingness and opportunity to articulate their problems, come together to discuss them, express their views in the public sphere and take civic actions to address these challenges. They are acting, organising for change, and they use multiple strategies to do so. Twaweza is working through partners and directly to train, mentor, equip and inspire local change agents to address locally defined problems. Twaweza supports communities to problematize well and at the structural causes behind the local challenges, and ultimately promote more inclusive and active local governance structures.
  2. Local and national government agencies operate in ways that take account of citizen concerns, voices and civic action, and are able and driven to act in response. These practices are slowly taking root and diffusing beyond the immediate community and into national discourse as Twaweza is working to amplify these stories, voices and ideas into public and policy debates and to persuade authorities to be responsive through advocacy and litigation.
  3. Civic space is less restricted in regard to basic respect for free expression, association and assembly; access to information; and established rule of law, as Twaweza, directly and in concert with diverse coalitions, amplifies citizen perspectives, stories and challenges through media and directly to government officials, mobilises citizens and civil society to undertake.

Citizens (local change agents – especially young women, communities): Act, Participate, Solve Problems Jointly, Mobilise, Endorse, Express Voice

Actor level behaviour, practice, attitude, knowledge changes

  • Animators and people’s representatives mobilise citizen accountability actions and participation, problem-solving
  • Animators and people’s representatives request government information and engage in local government processes
  • Citizens have positive attitudes towards civil society organisations and trust them, value their work and contribution

Practices spread, norms shift, policy and practice change

  • Citizens perceive space to engage with authorities for problem-solving and accountability; they are able (and allowed) to hold leaders accountable
  • Citizens have a sense of improved government services and improved accountability

Local Governments (MPs, District Directors, village/street governments): Respond, Adopt, Endorse

Actor level behaviour, practice, attitude, knowledge changes

  • MPs, councillors and local government officials participate in, endorse and embed Twaweza / partner citizen agency processes and evidence collected
  • MPs, councillors and local government officials escalate and/or respond to citizens’ voices and challenges, entrench them in decision-making

Practices spread, norms shift, policy and practice change

  • The actions and processes and mechanisms implemented by (early adopter) government actors begin to influence other government actors and shape institutions, policies, laws and practice

National Government (ministries of information, local government, justice): Engage, Promote, Respond, Propose laws, policies, systems.

Actor level behaviour, practice, attitude, knowledge changes

  • Government officials make decisions informed by citizen input
  • Government officials champion the expansion of citizen collective action, new spaces for interaction and government responsiveness
  • Government officials seek citizen views on policy and laws, have increased understanding of citizen challenges
  • Government officials endorse, participate in and create spaces in which they interact directly with citizens

Practices spread, norms shift, policy and practice change

  • The actions and processes and mechanisms implemented by (early adopter) government actors begin to influence other government actors and shape institutions, policies, laws and practice
  • Parliamentary debates, including at the committee level, on new laws governing access to information, freedom of expression and civic participation are more inclusive of citizen views and voices
  • Restrictive clauses in national and local laws governing access to information, freedom of expression and civic participation are used less, some have been amended
  • New laws governing these areas take more account of stakeholder and citizen views and are less restrictive

Media (content / journalists, local / national, digital / traditional): Cover, Promote, Create Interaction Spaces, Engage, Challenge

Actor level behaviour, practice, attitude, knowledge changes

  • Individual journalists and outlets have increased and improved coverage of civic space issues, citizen voices and agency
  • In selected geographic areas, community media facilitate citizen-government interaction and highlight local collective action and response

Practices spread, norms shift, policy and practice change

  • National media hold meaningful (informed and participatory) debates and dialogues on civic space and service delivery
  • National media cite evidence/data from a range of government and independent sources
  • New outlets arise which are independent, investigative, digital, fact/evidence-based, and popular
  • National media pro-actively challenge legal repression of their work

Civil Society Sector (local, national): Strengthened, Unified, More effective

Actor level behaviour, practice, attitude, knowledge changes

  • Like-minded civic organisations and citizens’ initiatives come together to respond to rights’ violations

Practices spread, norms shift, policy and practice change

  • Unusual actors mobilize, coalesce and work together to take specific actions in defence of democracy
  • Select local organisations are capacitated to work jointly and more effectively
  • The civil society regularly shares best practice in financial management, governance, advocacy, programming and monitoring and evaluation

HOW CHANGE HAPPENS

Twaweza uses a problem-driven approach to both analysis and planning. We think carefully and strategically about our work using political economy analytical frameworks and rigorous measurement practice to learn constantly about how the world works and how we can do our work better.

Analysis

Problems

Problem-driven political economy analysis approach: a thoughtful examination of the current socio-political situation, the main actors and the role they could play in solving the problem, relevant barriers and opportunities, as well as Twaweza’s advantage and expertise.

Hypothesis

The hypotheses present an outline of Twaweza’s planned initiatives and a possible scenario of their effect. They also allow for distilling key metrics (related to process, outcome, and effect) across the strategic period. Important to note is that the hypotheses are just that – hypothetical scenarios of what we, based on evidence and understanding of the context, believe could happen over our next four-year strategic period. They provide an articulation of our vision but allow flexibility to re-think and re-engineer our approach as we implement. Rather than a rigid frame, they ought to be read as a series of if-then statements, each with in-built nodes of reflection which allow us to take stock and re-align in a complex and shifting reality.

Success

Rather than a simple reversal of the problem statement, crafting a success requires breaking down some of the changes we would like to see that should generate momentum towards solving the problem. Often solutions are murky, so the journey towards addressing the problems is iterative.

Actors

Hierarchy in terms of an actor’s influence over an issue as well as other actors and Twaweza’s own network and capacity come into play when selecting actors.

Behaviours

Are we addressing their ability to act (their skills, the external environment), their opportunity (social and environmental norms) to act or their willingness to act (their motivation and interest). What do they do now and what do we want them to do?

Barriers/Incentives

The meat of the matter – what might prompt our actors to move from their current to our desired behaviour. What opportunities exist? And equally what might prevent them from doing so?

Our big bets

Animators, community representatives and local government champions increase the Ability, Motivation and Opportunities of citizens (in selected communities) to participate in governance and development decisions.

Through advocacy and communication, Twaweza demonstrates that citizen participation in local governance (including service delivery) leads to improved outcomes (in services, and governance); and in turn use this to influence sector ministries (local government, information, communications, services, legal affairs) to promote meaningful participation and incorporate the needs and aspirations of citizens in plans and implementation. Once the efficacy and success of participation are (re-)demonstrated, there will be increased appetite and uptake.

Enabling contextualised and systematically collected citizen voices to be heard will influence public policy debates at the national and sub-national levels consequently resulting in better services and governance.

Advocacy (soft and hard versions of advocacy) at the national level will prompt the government to respond by conceding elements of a more conducive civic space environment.

How information leads to action

Driving forces

  • Local change agents will GALVANISE citizens to participate in local development processes and to contribute their own ideas, time and resources to development activities.
  • Local change agents’ participation and engagement will PRESSURE local governments to be responsive.
  • Successes will ENCOURAGE both parties to continue with new behaviours and ways of working.
  • Media profiling successes and lessons locally and nationally will PRESSURE and ENCOURAGE early adopter citizens and local governments to engage and others to follow suit.
  • Amplifying citizens’ voices will PRESSURE local and national government institutions to take them into account as well as serving to ENCOURAGE them to do so by making these perspectives easily accessible.
  • Sharing successes will VALIDATE the actions of citizens and responsive officials and will MODEL behaviours and thus prompt others to take them up.
  • Joint actions will PRESSURE the national government to respond and make concessions on civic space.
  • Local success stories will DEMONSTRATE the value of civic space rights.
  • Capacity development and joint work will ENCOURAGE civil society to work more effectively.
  • Careful research, analysis and arguments will GALVANISE the government, local and national, to respond.
  • Thoughtful angles and engaging accessible content will GALVANISE media to cover citizen agency and civic space issues.

Citizen agency, government response

Citizen agency:

  • access, generate information
  • monitor services and processes
  • speak out
  • demand
  • contribute (time, money)

Government Response:

  • accept, acknowledge data, stories, voices
  • seek more information
  • targeted/individualised action, solution
  • public verbal response
  • opening up decision-making processes
  • implementing existing policies and processes
  • sharing practice, success – across and up
  • changing policies, laws (if needed)