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Transparency and MDGs: the Role of the Media and Technology

by Prasad Krishna last modified Apr 02, 2011 10:16 AM
Key quotes from sixth panel

“We are thinking globally, acting locally. We take the bottom-up approach with radio for people in the community to tell their government what they need and to partake in decision making process.”
— Lucy Maathai, Slums Information Development and Resource Centers, Kenya

“For HIV/AIDS in Botswana during the 1990s, we tried creating big billboards saying ‘get tested’, we tried working through NGOs, but it was not until we also got local churches and local tribal leaders together, that things changed. We had to focus on getting buy-in from the political leadership and every local leader. UNDEF was set up to fill the gaps between UN agencies like UNICEF, UNDP, etc. What I have seen in botswana and 30 years of experience, is that if we always add information and communication at the end, we will fail. Rather we need to make sure that it is integrated all along. Furthermore, people in Botswana are aware of technologies, but they do not feel that they can use it or are supported to use it. Instead they use traditional methods, such as churches, in bars, and with local tribal leaders. The UN are mostly used to dealing with formal institutions, but in order to help the bottom billion in the world, we need to engage with the informal institutions, sometimes even with the ‘bad guys’”.
— Bjoern Ferde, UNDP Oslo Center, Norway

“If a transparency system is based on suspicion rather than trust, it breeds corruption. If your demand for transparency and accountability undermines social safety nets, you will undermine your entire argument. Transparency may seem to add to accountability, but we must understand that it oftens undermines privacy (in the Gujarat genocide, muslims were found and killed by rioters using tax and electoral records). In addition, in india, a name alone reveals a lot of information on caste, area and religion, so what is normal in the west – disclosing names – is not always a good idea. Finally, in many places, particularly those in conflict, disclosing your income may lead to groups turning up at your door and demanding a share.”

— Sunil Abraham, Centre for Internet and Society, India

“It’s great what ARTICLE 19 is doing. There’s often a lot of discussion within communities, but not so often discussions between communities. I want to connect the media too. So little has been done at the international level on how information and communication help development. We do need to acknowledge that the media has massive advantages as an information and transparency mechanism. If you ask politicians what they are worried about in regards to transparency, they are worried about the media. In peru, a report states that Fujimori bribed media executives 100x the amount that he bribed a judge. Indeed, there are so few people paid within UN organisations to focus on understanding and using communication to effect people’s lives. We are operating in a strategic vaccum. It’s hugely exciting to work out where we can go in the future. This event takes us a long way forward.”
— James Deane, BBC World Trust, UK

“There are simple and creative ways to demonstrate information, such as the ‘stone’ test. In Botswana, each person in a village was asked to place a stone in the middle of the group for every person that died due to HIV/AIDS. It created an immediate and devastating effect when people suddenly visualised the effect on their community and then collectively began to think about what that meant in regards to families and society.”
— Bjoern Ferde, UNDP Oslo Center, Norway

“In the south we call the media the fourth estate – a moral and ethical force to protect democracy and the constitution of our country. In the north however, we have a business model which completely removes any sense of ethics. The Indian Express, for example, will only talk about markets, not about people and their lives in poverty. Furthermore, whilst we want information shared, we do not want the information collected by the state to destroy the people.
— Aruna Roy, MKSS

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