Cross posted from the blog of the UK-based aid transparency campaign organisation, Publish What You Fund. The original was published on October 20th.
“We will require organisations receiving and managing funds from DFID to release open data on how this money is spent in a common, standard, reusable format. They will need to require this of sub-contractors and sub-agencies – right through the aid chain.”
That was Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, speaking in 2012 on DFID’s commitment to transparency.
The goal is traceability: for British taxpayers to be able to track the flow of funds from DFID in London to a handpump in rural Tanzania or a primary school in Nepal, even where the funds pass through several different organisations on the way. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and DFID’s Development Tracker website are the means to achieve this. Continue reading →
A little while ago, I posted an old op-ed column by Rakesh Rajani, in which he asked “What if NGOs were newspapers?” And I promised to follow it up with some thoughts on our situation here at Daraja, where we are an NGO that runs newspapers, to see how accurate Rakesh’s ideas were. Well, here goes.
Rakesh’s main point was that NGOs are not subject to the strict deadlines that rule newspapers’ work, or to the same kind of pressure that newspapers face to give readers what they want. A reporter who misses a deadline finds that their story isn’t published. A newspaper that comes out late risks missing out on sales and undermining their readers’ trust. And if a newspaper writes about things that don’t interest their readers then that paper won’t get bought again. The nearest equivalent pressures on NGOs have often very little to do with the community – their “beneficiaries” – and more to do with keeping their donors happy.
In other words, NGOs aren’t as strongly accountable to the community as newspapers for doing their work on time or for doing it well. Continue reading →
This has got me thinking. What actions could the government take that would have a positive impact on open government immediately? I’ve come up with some options, and would love to know what you think. Continue reading →
Around 230 more cables relating to Tanzania were released over the weekend, bringing the total to over 700. And just to make things complicated, the most recent batch are not separated from the previously released cables, so looking through the new ones requires that you also look through all the old ones.
But let’s get to the point. And there are three more points of particular interest that I have found in the new releases, as follows.
First up, the one cable that has attracted the most headlines and an emphatic denial – the claim by a former US Ambassador to Tanzania than the Kempinsky Hotel chain paid for President Kikwete to travel to London and to buy five tailor-made Saville Row suits. Continue reading →
The UN General Assembly recently adopted a resolution recognising the “right to water”. On the face of it, this is hardly a controversial resolution, since who would oppose something as obviously vital as water. But dig a little deeper, and there are some tricky issues here.
For many advocates of this right, the UN resolution has been used as an opportunity to re-open the privatisation debate that burned strongly and divided many over the past two decades. A recent special issue (No. 533) of Pambazuka, a magazine promoting freedom and social justice in Africa, focuses on “Water and Privatisation”, aiming to do just that. The argument is that if water is a basic human right, surely it should be available for free. Or at least, multinational corporations should not be allowed to profit from its provision. Continue reading →
If the goal is simply to get children into schools, Tanzania’s education sector deserves (and receives) full credit. But if we want those children to actually learn something, getting them into school is only the first (and easiest) step. Unless that is followed up with well-trained and fairly paid teachers and money for text books and other teaching equipment, those children aren’t going to learn much. And if they’re not learning, what’s the point of the children being there?
A few weeks ago on this blog we shared Kwanza Jamii Njombe’s investigation on the Primary Education Capitation Grant – a grant to each school of 10,000/- per pupil per year, for spending by the schools on text books, teaching materials, etc. Our report revealed some shocking findings – and which has provoked a stern response from the Council Education Department (of which more will be posted here as the story develops). Schools were found to be receiving only around 10% of the amount specified in policy. Continue reading →
A few days ago, a group of seven civil society organisations, including Policy Forum and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) filed a case with the High Court of Tanzania, arguing that the act establishing the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund, or Mfuka wa Majimbo, is unconstitutional. In doing so, they are following the lead of other organisations raising challenges to similar constituency-based development funds in other countries.
But this move is far from being universally popular. MPs from all major parties supported the CDCF bill. One MP – Dr Faustine from Kinondoni – used his personal blog to criticise the CSOs’ case, arguing that the CDCF has been a very effective way of quickly solving problems in his constituency. Continue reading →