Transparency, citizen engagement and accountability are essential for an open society, where democratic institutions support and empower citizens to shape society and take control over their lives. When governments are transparent, civil society can help ensure leaders are serving their people and not themselves.
In an increasingly complex world, citizens’ input is also essential for good decision-making. Solid policy-making requires the views, values, experiences and knowledge of the public. Transparency and accountability within governments, but also the private sector, is a sine qua non for equitable development.
Hivos has invested for years in a broad portfolio of initiatives that use smart technologies and other innovative ways to exert local and global influence that leads to stronger citizen engagement and greater governmental and corporate accountability. We have been a frontrunner ini stimulating the use of ICT and media as a tool in holding governments to account and forcing them to make decision-making more transparent.
Our current transparency and accountability programmes continue to focus on engaging and empowering citizens to demand and exercise greater control over the opaque and corrupt use of power.
Making All Voices Count (2014 – November 2017)
Making All Voices Count is a partnership between Hivos, Ushahidi and IDS that supports effective and accountable governance in 11 countries in Africa and Asia. It brings together a wide range of actors to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to improve the relationship between government and citizens and to make government more effective and accountable.
Since 2014, it has supported some 100 projects ranging from reducing maternal mortality in Indonesia through SMS reporting systems to supporting disaster response in the Philippines with open source mapping, from using radio shows to educate rural South Africans about their legal system and rights to combining open data and social media tools to track public budgets in Nigeria. Making All Voices Count is funded by DFID, USAID, SIDA, and the Omidyar Network (ON).
Media and Accountability in Latin America (2014 – 2017):
The Media and Accountability in Latin America programme, run by Hivos Latin America since 2014 with the support of SIDA, helps civil society organisations and journalists use data to generate quality information that enables concerned citizens to demand greater transparency and accountability from governments and private companies. An important part of the programme is the Civic Experiments Fund, which sets up virtual and physical “civic labs” where participants from the private sector, academia, journalism and activism work to develop project prototypes that aim to solve social problems. The areas of social change targeted by these labs varies from transportation to transparency and from gender issues to political advocacy.
Open Contracting Data (2016 – 2020)
More open and transparent data and information about public contacting processes allows the media and the public to demand that governments make better use of tax money and national resources, deliver better goods and services, and prevent and punish corruption and fraud.
This joint programme with Article19 supports journalists, activists, businesses and civic watchdog organisations to obtain and open up public contracting data and revenue flows to scrutiny, so that taxpayer money is spent honestly and efficiently in accordance with the highest standards of transparency and integrity. It is part of a strategic partnership with the Dutch government, and operates in collaboration with the Open Contracting Partnership.
Connecting Voices (2016 – 2019)
The Hivos East Africa programme Connecting Voices seeks to enhance the ability of Ugandan citizens, change agents and civil society organisations to promote democratic governance, protect civic spaces, demand government accountability and safeguard freedom of expression. It is a direct response to the need in Uganda for greater civic and democratic space, increased transparency and accountability, and improved social service delivery.
The program aims to open up dialogue between local civil society organisations and political leaders to create a more enabling environment for freedom of expression, transparency and accountability. It will support the efforts of journalists, bloggers, artistes, women, human rights defenders and other change agents to promote greater regard for the rule of law as well as access to justice and social services by the citizens.
Participation in international T&A platforms
Open Government Partnership
An important platform for promoting government transparency is the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2011 with 6 governments and 9 founding civil society organisations. Since then, the partnership has grown to include 69 countries that have committed to making their governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. Hivos hosts the OGP’s Brussels-based Director for Civil Society Engagement, Paul Maassen.
The Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/A Initiative)
The T/AI Initiative is a donor collaborative working to expand the impact and scale of transparency, accountability and participation interventions. It was created in 2011 by a group of global, private and government funders committed to strengthening democracy and development through empowering people to hold their governing institutions to account: Ford Foundation, Hivos, International Budget Partnership, Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations (OSF), Revenue Watch Institute, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.