Setting the agenda for development – who has the power?

Kai photoIn a recent blog, Patricia Dorsher comments that “It is a particular feature of aid that people on the ground are often not involved in activities affecting their communities”.

Patricia makes the case for not only shifting resources to those with greater need, but also shifting other sources of power, such as agenda setting; “Agenda setting is one of the most potent tools for those with limited traditional resources. The ability for citizens to voice their opinions, have them heard, and acted upon increases their capacity to steer the aid which affects them.”

The benefits of engaging citizens and communities are increasingly clear, but the how is proving a little harder. Patricia cites several sector examples, and details some of the key steps to achieve true “co-creation”,  concluding as I did in my previous blog, that “simply providing open data is not enough…the communication must actually affect the work being done”. Ending with a rather pessimistic, or perhaps realistic note, Patricia points to the numerous barriers to success in this field. It certainly makes for daunting reading, however as the collective recognition regarding the benefits of listening to constituents and citizens continues to grow, and more and more organisations attempt to engage with them, it will surely no longer be a choice but a necessity.

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