Open City

On Saturday 24 August I gave a short presentation at the Open City mini-conference, responding to the prompt ‘ideas for making Cape Town a more Open City’.

Titled ‘Open Accountability’, my presentation looked at some of the work the Social Justice Coalition and its affiliates are doing to make data around municipal budgets and service delivery more available to the public, and to hold municipalities and private contractors accountable for their delivery of basic services.

Here are some references to material I showed in my presentation:

The Social Justice Coalition

Ndifuna Ukwazi

Imali Yethu

SJC report on the Khayelitsha Mshengu Toilet Social Audit

Analysis of Cape Town’s 2013/2014 Draft Budget for the Imali Yethu project by Ndifuna Ukwazi and the Social Justice Coalition.

Lungisa by Cell-Life

Also see these articles:

Shaun Russell on data-driven activism and the Khayelitsha social audit, ‘The Power of Data as evidence‘, 16 August 2013, on the Ndifuna Ukwazi website.

On the International Budget Partnership site, The Social Justice Coalition Uses Social Audit to Clean Up Sanitation Issues in Cape Town.

Service Charge Revenue

Service Charge Revenue depicted in the Imali Yethu analysis of the City of Cape Town’s Draft Budget for 2013/2014


Good intentions are not enough

I was referred to the site Good Intentions by my friend Brian Gough who works for Task Furniture in Education in Cologne. Good Intentions houses critical articles and debates about the effectiveness of aid projects, aiming ‘to provide donors with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed funding decisions’. From her experiences in Thailand working on post-Tsunami aid programmes, founder Saundra Schimmelpfennig observed that:

It quickly became apparent that many poor aid practices were a result of charities trying to attract or keep donors. The donors themselves were unaware of the many misconceptions they held about aid. These misconceptions combined with the lack of easily accessible information made it almost impossible for donors to give in ways that matched their good intentions.

I’m interested in that first statement, describing charities ‘trying to keep or attract donors’ – chimes in with my own analysis of the relationship of design for development projects to first world audiences, sometimes to the detriment of users.