They Work for You: Monitoring Parliament and Why It’s Worth It

TWITTER Opposition Parties Parliamentary Monitoring GroupIt’s hard to trust our leaders. Across the globe, the gap between rich and poor is widening while seldom a week passes without a political figure or big brand being exposed for avoiding tax, involvement in corrupt practices or making decisions that blatantly work against the public good.

Now more than ever, it is critical that citizens are able to hold both public and private institutions to account so that the decisions they make serve us. We rely on them to ensure that people can access the services they need like good schools, effective healthcare and efficient waste disposal.

Parliamentary monitoring groups across the Africa are developing websites which enable citizens to track parliament and their elected representatives like Mzalendo in Kenya, Odekro in Ghana and People’s Assembly in South Africa. Users can find out how their MP voted in parliament, what they said in recent appearances and see a register of their interests. They can also access Hansard, written answers to parliamentary questions and information on bill committees.

But how can parliamentary monitoring sites access the necessary data, engage citizens around a relatively dry topic and ensure that the information contained within them reach those offline?  How can we as funders help?

We asked the experts on the ground so that we could learn from their experiences.  I’ve summarised their words of wisdom in this Huffington Post article.  For more in depth insights, feel free to browse through the report below.