“DevelopmentCheck is transformational in terms of gathering citizen feedback and generating positive change to improve development outcomes”
Joy Saunders, Integrity Action CEO
In December 2014, Integrity Action reached a milestone when we published the 200th development project monitored by our partners on DevelopmentCheck.org. Today, there are 203 projects from partners in 11 countries, with a total value of over $220,000,000 live on DevelopmentCheck.org.
Why is the milestone so significant?
Until recently there was no established tool that allows citizens in developing countries to provide feedback on the effectiveness of development projects. All too often technology-driven transparency and accountability solutions fail to ‘close the loop’, ignoring the need for citizen feedback, constructive engagement and responsiveness to communities’ concerns. Ultimately, resulting in the failure or abandonment of development projects meant to improve the lives of ordinary citizens around the world.
Integrity Action’s response to address this problem was to develop and launch DevelopmentCheck.org, our ground-breaking online data collection and reporting platform that enables citizens to tell us how it really is. Whilst we believe that technology is key we put people first. Therefore, DevelopmentCheck is a key tool within our overall Community Integrity Building approach. Our in-country partners use DevelopmentCheck to share their findings on development projects and engage authorities to resolve problems and therefore better meet communities’ needs.
Integrity Action and its in-country partners train community members to analyse project documents, conduct project site visits to compare the actual project to the documents, take photos of the project, conduct beneficiary surveys, verify findings as well as engage with stakeholders such as contractors and local government to fix problems. These monitors are also trained to then enter data onto DevelopmentCheck through the online questionnaire or via the App, upload photos, videos and project documents. Once verified, this information is publically available and shared in community forums and by community radio, a key communication channel in many developing countries. Project data and case studies are also shared through social media, including Facebook and YouTube.
Collecting data to provide the evidence to press for improved services
Gathering data and establishing an evidence base is essential before engaging with stakeholders to bring about change. In 2013, student monitors in Palestine identified discrepancies between the contract and the actual renovation of Qabatiya Main Street. After the monitors gathered their evidence they shared their findings with local authorities and communities at public meetings, an official public hearing, and through interviews on local radio. This caught the attention of local authorities who fixed all of the problems identified, and also installed street lights on the recommendation of the monitors.
In 2014, monitors in Herat city, Afghanistan, discovered the contractor building Khalillullah Khalili School had used poor quality bricks and the incorrect concrete mixture. The issue was raised at a meeting attended by the monitors, government officials and representatives from the contractor. After the monitors presented their evidence the contractor was told to use the proper materials by the government officials. The construction company replaced the bricks they had purchased with good quality bricks and began using the correct concrete mixture.
Moving forward to strengthen the call for citizen feedback and engagement
After reaching an important milestone we want to look forward and strengthen the push for increased citizen feedback and engagement to bring about change. Now we want to share our experiences over the last 3 years and encourage other organisations to use our tool, as well as to think about fostering collaborative learning and problem diagnosis, generating an evidence base and recommendations, and resolving problems through locally-driven solutions. This will strengthen the case for using citizen feedback and constructive engagement to drive improvements to service delivery.