The primary job of government officials and institutions around the world should be to ensure that their constituents are healthy, educated and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
However, the reality is that many government policies and practices fall short on this promise.
Governments often fail to provide adequate funding for key programs and initiatives that would improve health, education and nutrition. And when funding does occur, it may be delayed or misdirected, or resources may not be used efficiently by teachers, doctors and other front-line service providers.
When these breakdowns occur, regular citizens stand to benefit or suffer the most. But this same group has the potential to improve the quality of government services by becoming more engaged and providing feedback and information when they believe the government is not performing well.
Since 2007, R4D has supported civil society organizations worldwide to assess gaps in service delivery at the local, sub-national and national levels that prevent people from receiving the services they need and to address these gaps, by providing information, facilitating accountability and improving collaborations between governments and the people they represent.
We take a unique approach to transparency, accountability and citizen engagement that requires understanding the root problems that lead to poor health, education and nutrition outcomes. We then work with civil society and government actors to overcome these problems in the most effective way, given their cultural, political and economic contexts.
At R4D, we:
- Support civil society and citizens to better identify problems with health, education and nutrition services and undertake actions to address these problems directly.
- Build collaborations between citizens and government to ensure that the priorities and feedback of beneficiaries are helping government officials provide better services.
- Strengthen open governance and open data programs by analyzing their cost, benefits and impact on development outcomes.
- Analyze accountability ecosystems to help citizens, civil society partners and governments better understand how to make positive change happen in politically complex environments.
R4D is a leader in directly supporting improvements in governance and citizen engagement as well as in providing groundbreaking evidence as to what works best in this complex field. Our accomplishments include:
- Supporting close to 100 individual civil society programs to improve health, education and nutrition by activating citizen voices. These programs have led to civil society identifying core problems in service delivery and ultimately resulted in improvements in policies for programs targeting teacher quality in Ghana and Uganda, school meal provision in South Africa and primary health care in several countries, including India and Indonesia.
- Co-leading a groundbreaking multi-country evaluation of the impact of community-led transparency and accountability on health outcomes. This ongoing research will provide the most rigorous and broad evidence to date regarding the impact of local citizen-engagement programs and how this work can be better designed to improve community participation and, ultimately, health quality and outcomes. In Indonesia and Tanzania, the work has generated more than 1,300 individual, community-driven social actions to improve health services and outcomes in the target communities.
- Developing the first approach to costing open governance interventions. This is valuable information for policymakers and donors about the real cost of open governance programs and can be a tool for global advocacy to highlight the value of these programs in improving engagement, lowering corruption and strengthening the ultimate impact of government programs.