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Accountability: to whom, for what and by which mechanisms?

August 1, 2022
February 6, 2023

In this Interview, Caesar Ngule, Programmes Director, Kenyan Community Development Foundation (KCDF) reflects on what it means to be accountable to local people. KCDF is a Kenyan public foundation that supports community driven development initiatives. It was founded to promote the sustainable development of communities through social investment, resource mobilisation, endowment building and grant making.  

What does accountability to local people (your constituency) mean to your organisation and what does that look like in practice? 

Caesar: Accountability for the Kenyan Community Development Foundation (KCDF) means that communities are at the forefront of deciding on their actions for change through meaningful participation in the identification of projects and co-financing, and implementation. It means open sharing of data, including resource use. Such data needs to be available to the intended user of the data, often community members, through community forms and publicly available information. 

Going the extra mile to disseminate such data/information in ways that ordinary citizens (often called beneficiaries and stakeholders) are able to consume. If information is publicly available, but the intended users cannot access the same (either due to literacy levels, unfriendly platforms etc), you are not being accountable.

Photo and quote from Caesar Ngule, Programmes Director, Kenyan Community Development Foundation (KCDF)

How can data be used to #ShiftThePower and create long term solidarity?

Caesar: When horizontal Accountability and all forms of participation and community-led development are used to challenge the dominant aid system (which is extractive), it is possible to encourage shifts in the dominant aid system. This will allow the less dominant bottom-up development models to become dominant. Providing alternatives for data accountability platforms and spaces that are accepted and used by the emerging system and the current dominant system is crucial.

What are some of the blockers you see at the moment in relation to Accountability to local people?

Caesar: Over-reliance on top-down models to shift power. Many players helping to shift power are still using the current top-down reporting models and tools to help INGOs shift.

Talk To Loop provides a pathway for organisations to reimagine accountability in a manner that helps to shift power - accountability that is ingrained from the bottom to the top and starts where aid is delivered and based on the experiences of local people. Such an approach is essential if local organisations and donors are to develop a reliable evidence base to demonstrate that accountability is of real value to vulnerable people.

Loop agrees with Caesar's insightful observations. That's why it is designed around ‘what does a local person want to share?’ and responding to this. All other feedback mechanisms are analogue, aggregated and designed around the organisational needs or thematic area.

Our experience reinforces his points about how language can be a real barrier to information.  Even if reports are shared they are often not in the local language and not accessible to local people. Loop crosses the literacy and language barriers by closing the feedback Loop directly to the original author using voice in their chosen language and dialect! 

Now that's a revolution in inclusion!

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