Case Study

ICT for Accountable Public Service Delivery

How can citizen reporting help ensure public services are working for those who need them most?

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Improved public service delivery begins with knowing whether the services offered are working as intended. But too often public service providers lack the means to solicit citizen feedback. When feedback is available, the data typically represents the interests of only a fraction of users. This is especially true in Nigeria where persistent underdevelopment of infrastructure, including roads, internet access, and electricity, constrains the ability of the country’s poor to provide feedback. Those who stand to gain the most from effective public services have the fewest opportunities to input on their design.

Recognizing this challenge, the World Bank engaged Reboot to develop mechanisms that would enable citizen input on the delivery of public services. We immersed ourselves in local communities to identify their needs, and we worked closely with Nigerian government and World Bank officials to determine how to receive and process citizen feedback. We collaborated with local and international engineering partners to build a technology platform that would be easy to use for all stakeholders. And we worked with community leaders and civil society organizations to implement the system. The program has been piloted in Nigeria for a public program in healthcare and is now preparing for a wider launch.

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In 2011, as the Government of Nigeria and the World Bank explored how to improve key programs, they needed to first understand how citizens experienced public services. Previous attempts to gather citizen feedback had fallen flat. Many initiatives had overlooked key constraints to usage and adoption at both the government and community levels.

For example, while these programs encouraged government bodies to solicit, review, and act on public feedback, many did not establish formal mechanisms to incentivize or enforce these actions. The design of several programs also prevented widespread citizen participation. Rural citizens could not travel to designated offices in urban centers to share their grievances. Feedback hotlines sometimes routed to public officials’ personal phone lines, creating extremely narrow windows where those officials would accept incoming complaints. And absent past or current guarantees on government responses to public input, citizens were reluctant to invest time and energy in providing feedback. Recognizing this challenge, the World Bank engaged Reboot to develop mechanisms that could enable greater citizen input on the delivery of public services.

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