From November 29th to December 2nd, PTF hosted a peer learning and knowledge sharing workshop in Jaipur, India. The workshop was focused on engaging citizens in fighting against corruption in Asia. An array of civil society actors from across South Asia and beyond were in attendance. PTF partner civil society organizations (CSOs) from Mongolia, Philippines, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka were represented along with anti-corruption experts from the US, UK, Indonesia and Afghanistan. The resulting workshop was a major success.
Converging such an eclectic group of CSO representatives, activists and experts provided an ideal forum to share stories and successes, approaches taken, challenges encountered, and lessons learned. Expert panelists facilitated discussions and break-out sessions allowed participants to better conceptualize future campaigns. Subjects ranged from overcoming political economy constraints to effective use of traditional and social media to obtain impacts. The importance of assessing and scaling up results as well as improving public service delivery and achieving corruption also weighed heavily on the proceedings.
A major conclusion from participants was that citizen-led anti-corruption programs worked best while collaborating with partner organizations and constructively engaging policy makers and other public sector entities. Causes picked up by media also proved to gain added impact. 31 case studies were submitted by the diverse array of participants which were then presented and discussed at the workshop. Evidence of impactful results were noted to be achieved through such strategies as: accessing and using information to monitor performance and demand accountability; forming citizen monitoring groups, building their capacity and taking collective action; constructive engagement with authorities; third party monitoring, evidence collection, and data evaluation used to demand accountability and responsiveness of government officials. A major constraint highlighted by all CSOs was the scarcity of domestic and foreign donor funding for anti-corruption work.
As the workshop demonstrated, citizen engagement works, though context matters. Despite there not existing a one-size-fits all approach to fighting corruption, the lessons of others are invaluable in tailoring to specific needs in order to make PTF projects and partnerships stronger than ever.