The two books from the World Bank promote the importance of communication in international development efforts and in mobilizing civil society to keep their state leaders accountable.
I found it interesting how there is a specific program within the World Bank–the Communication for Governance and Accountability Program (CommGAP)– to promote such efforts. It is especially relevant today, when corruption and oppression caused by the leaders of state governments still persist, preventing the economy and society as a whole from moving forward. The CommGAP program claims that a series of complementary programs involving research and advocacy, training and capacity building, and support would ensure the success of multi-stakeholder efforts to maintain effective governance while protecting the rights of its citizens. All this seems like a difficult task, especially when convincing political leaders to support such efforts. I wonder what sort of incentives there would be for governing officials to not only agree, but practice the principles.
One of the case studies presented by Cecilia Cabanero-Verzosa regarding the implementation of the Philippine Procurement Law also caught my attention. In her piece, she explores the reasons for procurement reform (namely, money being spent unwisely and not for the public’s benefit) and how it was able to pass through successful strategic communication practices; however, the actual implementation is facing some obstacles due to the lack of resources, effective communication between networks, mobilization of civic society, etc. I see this being the exact same case in my current research in laws passed by the Philippine government to protect the rights of its disabled citizens. The one law I’m looking at in particular is a new one passed earlier in the year ensuring that 10% of government goods are to be procured from small businesses owned and operated by persons with disabilities (PWDs). The issue (from my current understanding) is that the law isn’t so clear as to who exactly should be monitoring its implementation. With so many government agencies, municipalities, and actors from the private and non-profit sectors involved, it would be difficult to coordinate without centralized leadership (as seen by the procurement law case study). Another issue is the lack of awareness at the civic level. When I speak to Filipino citizens regarding this law, they have expressed their surprised that such laws exists. Many are also skeptical because they hear of all these progressive laws being passed, but do not see any sort of real action thereafter. Instead, they view it as a way for the government to show off or save face. I do think that some of the solutions Cabanero-Verzosa had presented are good ones, but to actually convince the “middle managers” to play along is easier to be said than done.
Ultimately, I think that the efforts by the CommGAP program are well-meaning and I can definitely see its potential in furthering development, but I do wonder what the role of culture is, considering that responses may vary depending on the culture and values of the society. For example, it can be argued that some cultures tend to prefer more authoritative leadership figures. How, then, would it be best to mobilize citizens, especially if they do not understand the concept of accountability, holding their governments responsible for protecting their rights. Also, what are their rights and how does one go about informing them?