Does promoting citizen engagement in the governance of public services improve development outcomes?

Time: 12:30 – 14:00 BST
Venue: Curtis room - LG9, LSHTM, Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HT
Speaker: Ada Sonnenfeld, Evaluation specialist, 3ie
Discussant: John Gaventa, Director of Research, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

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Start Date: 25 September 2019 End Date: 25 September 2019
Does promoting citizen engagement in the governance of public services improve development outcomes?

There is a lot of emphasis by donors on improving governance in public service delivery, in order to improve development effectiveness. Bottom-up approaches aim to engage citizens in the design and delivery of public services and institutions through increasing opportunities for participation, inclusion, transparency and accountability (PITA). Evidence from prominent single studies, implemented in particular contexts, has suggested that bottom-up approaches to involve citizens in governance of public services are not effective strategies. But how generalizable is this finding, and what are the mechanisms through which citizen engagement can be effective?

A new mixed-method systematic review focuses on interventions that promote citizen engagement in public service governance, through participatory and inclusive planning, community-based monitoring, and provision of information about rights and performance of public services. Reviewers examine high-quality evidence from 35 programmes promoting good governance of public services via citizen engagement in L&MICs. They collected quantitative and qualitative data from the included studies and used statistical meta‐analysis and realist‐informed framework synthesis to analyse the findings. Ada Sonnenfeld, one of the lead authors of the review, presented  the key findings and implications for policy and programmes.

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About the speaker

Ada Sonnenfeld is an evaluation specialist at 3ie, with expertise in the fields of governance, rural development and peacebuilding. Her work focuses on evidence synthesis through systematic reviews and evidence gap maps. She is currently leading the development of a forthcoming evidence gap map of peacebuilding interventions, which provides a comprehensive look at the evidence base for interventions that aim to build peaceful societies in fragile contexts. She has eight years’ experience in international development across diverse contexts including Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, South Africa, UK, and the US.  Prior to working with 3ie, Ada worked with the Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan, leading the design and development of new programming in integrated rural development.

About the discussant

John Gaventa, a political sociologist, educator and civil society practitioner who has written and worked extensively on social movements, civic power and participation, and governance and accountability around the world, linking research and practice. He is presently the director of research at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, where he has been a fellow since 1996. Between 2011-2014, he served as Director of the Coady International Institute and Vice President of International Development at StFX University in Canada. He currently leads the DFID supported Action for Empowerment and Accountability Research Programme (A4EA), which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings.'

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