Mobile-Enhanced Participatory Budgeting in the DRC

via http://blogs.worldbank.org/ic4d/node/542

The video & article discuss, among other details, how the DRC government is using ICT through mobile phones to enhance transparency and participation efforts in the following ways (I paraphrase):

  1. Invitation: Citizens are invited to participatory budgeting assemblies through geo-targeted SMS messages. These messages, reaching all the phones receiving signal from a particular tower, announce the date, time and location of the assemblies.
  2. Voting: Mobile phones allow citizens to send a text to identify which of the priorities they would like to see addressed in their community.
  3. Announcements: Phones are also being used to announce the voted decision, making the process more transparent and inclusive than ever before.
  4. Feedback: Citizens are asked their opinions about the projects that had been chosen. Through text messages, they are able to offer feedback and monitor the projects. Over 250,000 text messages have already been sent throughout the different stages of this initiative.

It is clear how much these people (those interviewed, at least) are excited about this increased possibility for transparency and participation in their government. It’s also amazing to see how far a seemingly simple, yet proactive, governmental policy or program can go, especially in matters which much of the developed world takes for granted.