This week in open data and development: The Kiwi Effect on citizen engagement

Citizen Engagement

The challenge of connecting citizen voices with the governments and other agencies that serve them can sometimes suffer from the Kiwi Effect, hairy on the surface but juicy sweet on the inside. Concerns about how to engage citizens, how to get donors and government to then respond and address the issues voiced, and how to make this a continuous process can make for a seemingly hairy situation on the surface. 
 
However, the fruit of creating a harmonious system where citizens voice needs and feedback on projects and both government and agencies then respond to and address the issues is vibrant and delicious. Delicious enough to entice a number of countries to participate in the Open Government Partnership which is bringing civil society and government to the same table
 
Screen shot from data.pe
Just last Thursday, the Global Development Professionals Network held a live chat debating the use of technology to support such vibrant citizen-led development and some of the hairy issues that need tweezing. Meanwhile, on TechPresident, La Fractura discussed their successes and failures in trying to create a system for citizens to report on transportation issues in Lima, Peru. They quickly learned that incorporating government response is necessary in sustaining use and trust in the system.
 
Things could get a bit hairy for Chinese officials who are being challenged by their citizens via social media to swim in their polluted rivers. But things are looking sweet for open data believers with the launch of ‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’ research project which will take a look benefits, unintended consequences and strategies in open data through case studies in 14 developing countries.
 
Aid Effectiveness
 
 There have always been debates about the best way deliver development assistance. Just this week, Prime Minister David Cameron comment about taking funding from the aid budget to support the military in combating conflict received a lot of backlash. Oxfam Scotland said aid should be spent on schools on soldiers
 
While it’s largely agreed that aid benefits peacekeeping efforts, and peacekeeping efforts benefit aid, many point out the necessity for aid workers to appear neutral for security. Others point out clear differences between the purpose of the two agencies, and the how muddled this tactic could become.
 
Other policy debates this week included the View From the Cave blog remarking how the “Trade Not Aid” agenda is wrong in making aid and trade mutually exclusive. Can’t aid and trade work together? And over on the CGD Rethinking Foreign Assistance Blog, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s tactics were analyzed to try and answer the question of whether there is a space in development for conditionality. 
 
 
Weekly updates are written by Taryn Davis of Development Gateway; email her your tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post.
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