Creating Spaces for Engagement between Citizens and the State

April 30, 2019

During the first few months of 2019, Hivos Hub SEA has been conducting a scoping study called “Creating Spaces for Engagement between Citizens and the State”, supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. This project provides an understanding on citizen participation in public service delivery. It aims at increasing people’s access to responsive and accountable public service delivery by closing feedback loops that influence the government’s decision-making processes.

Where is the study conducted?

This research is conducted in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. These countries were selected because of a high demand for better governance and responsive public services due to their growing market and industry. They have contrasting situation that will enrich our scoping study: Vietnam with its relatively new public participation settings, the Philippines and Indonesia with their experiences of social accountability in a democratic setting.

 

What will we do?

Together with a team of researchers from the three countries, Hivos will identify and map the existing initiatives, the enabling conditions, individuals and institutions, as well as power relations that promote citizen’s engagement and government accountability in each country. The team will develop and validate research instruments to acquire all the data needed. The research team consists of a lead researcher, in-country researchers and in-country advisors to collect data through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.

Through this project, Hivos seeks to reach individuals and groups, such as state authorities, business leaders, academics, civil society organizations, and concerned citizen group, to be sensitized on the study findings. Subsequently, we will disseminate the study result to the wider public and use it as a reference for our advocacy to develop a policy paper outlining emerging issues and possible solutions as study recommendation.

 

Why do we do it?

From 2013 to 2017, Hivos had implemented a program called Making All Voices Count (MAVC). It was a citizen engagement and accountable governance program in several countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines. We learned that solving the governance problem should be done by addressing the citizen’s lack of knowledge, information, and technology.

We also learned from early studies on governance and accountability in Southeast Asia (Asia-Pacific in general) that shows the importance of communication and access to information. However, recent studies show that empowering the citizen alone will not solve the problem completely. We need a more balanced approach to strengthen both government and citizen, facilitate enabling environment and bridge the communication gap. The lessons and findings from the studies encourage Hivos to conduct an updated mapping on accountability actors and practices in Southeast Asia and learn from the role of technology and social mobilization improving public services.