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Our topic for last week in the IGCBP AdvEparticipation class, was Eparticipation: Consultation and Collaboration. Based on a survey conducted in 2005, the UN defines E-participation as a means of:

  • Increasing e-information to citizen for decision making
  • Enhancing e-consultation for deliberative and participatory processes
  • Supporting e-decision making by increasing  citizen input in decision making

Though, it can be carried out in myriads of ways, there are some important questions that one should ponder before launching any e-participation project, for instance: who is the audience? What would make the consultation more successful? Is your target audience web savvy? Does it have high Internet access and bandwidth? Is it media literate? Is it more likely to use mobile phone? And so on.

Let us also mention four important elements related to e-paticipation :

  • open information, content readily available to users
  • comment, possibility given to the user to give feedback or ask questions
  • interactivity, dialogue between both parties
  • collaboration, both parties work together to co-create

In this article we will see a few good examples and applications of e-participation we had in our reading material and some important issues raised by the students of our class.

To get started we have this video , by Tiago Peixoto, in which were explained to us different applications of technology. In particular, mobile phone was used to invite citizens to meetings in order to discuss with them, topics relevant to the community in which they are living. As a result of this approach, more people attended, participated, and also, far less money was invested. A specific example is with communities of the Republic of Congo. The citizens are invited to attend meetings by sms, they are also allowed to vote for their priorities using the same method. A typical vote question is "do you prefer to reform our education system or to build a bridge in the area?" The citizens also receive updates about the progress made in public projects currently undertaken, as a way to follow up with them in the participatory process. The feedback is very positive compared to communities where this approach has not been used. As a corollary of e-participation a dramatic increase in tax collection has been observed. Citizens see where the money is going and are willing to participate more.

Other good example is Wikipedia, the multilingual web-based encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Because, its participation is largely provided by amateurs some argue that this make it less academically less credible. However, its defendant s say that it offers the advantage of rapids edits to ensure accuracy of content and a wider knowledge base that draws on topics that general public are more likely to have an interest in.

Now what were some of the hot issues raised by the IGCBP AdvEparticipation class?

We had some comments about “mobile phone” regarding to its penetration and applications. Some discussion about “open information”,”communicative and media literacy skill level”, “content” production, “stakeholder’s engagement”, “Wikipedia”, but also some local references about e-participation : https://opendata.go.ke , www.kuzima.com , http://haitiregeneration.org/node/993 , www.meroreport.net  among others.

This week our topic is Social Media. We will certainly have, wonderful discussions, relevant insights and an interesting learning session. What about you?

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Comment by Enock Othin on June 29, 2012 at 11:33am

E-Participation in Uganda.

Community Re-Engagement of Youth: eParticipation Realities in Uganda and Norway

Carol Azungi Dralega, Beathe Due, Eli Skogerbø
Abstract

—by empowering local communities with communicative platforms and sources of information with which they can face mainstream discourses that overlook minority concerns on the one hand and revitalize the collapsing levels of interest in political and civic engagement on the other hand. This paper is based on two interventionist case studies, a grassroots initiative in rural Uganda and the other, a governmental initiative in a local municipality in Norway. The aim is to examine how these two initiatives have approached the common vision of access, utilization, participation and engagement of youths in their respective communities. By juxtaposing both visions of access to ICT promotion for civic engagement among youths, we unravel a common rhetoric and differences mainly reflective of the socioeconomic and political context of the cases. We draw interesting lessons that each case presents to the other and implications to the notion of democratic participation.

Full Text: PDF

here is the link: http://itidjournal.org/itid/article/viewArticle/492

Comment by Enock Othin on June 29, 2012 at 11:28am

Thanks Peterson for sharing the information.I think also this is useful too. I came across a fairly succinct definition of the term e-participation today that I find useful with regard to the things we are working on:

In the context of current project, e-Participation means the use of ICT for enabling and strengthening citizen participation in democratic decision-making processes. Depending on the aspect of democracy being promoted it can employ different techniques (Trechsel et al, 2002):

  1. For increasing the transparency of the political process;
  2. For enhancing the direct involvement on participation of citizen;
  3. For improving the quality of opinion formation by opening new spaces of information and deliberation

Source: UNDP Europe & CIS, Preparation of e-Participation Guide: Searching for interesting cas... (Word document, 60 KB).

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