Our proposal is to encourage direct participation of citizens in local authorities decision-making processes. UNFPA and UNDP support district local authorities in Yemen on citizens participation. Last year, 14 local authorities convened town hall meetings to present the district plans, projects and budgets, which was the first trial for the local authorities to involve citizens. This experience revealed that the local authorities can barely conduct the town hall meetings only in the district capital due to financial constrain and sometimes even their reluctance to the citizens participation in decision making process. In piloting in districts in Taiz Governorate, we propose that much wider citizens can directly vote in prioritizing the district projects in support with new technologies. This will lead to improve responsiveness of public services, the state’s accountability, citizens’ sense of ownership and trust in the State.
Our proposed technologies are SMS, web and What’s App linked to cloud sourced database. What’s App is widely used by Yemeni people due to affordable package and phone coverage. Already an initiative, gathering young people and established in one of Taiz districts used What’s App to map all the available service delivery and infrastructure in the district. However, What’s App is more widely used by male Yemenis. Using SMS and web, more women can participate in the process of district project prioritizations. Our idea is to establish a mechanism, which would allow the citizens to participate in prioritizing the district projects using SMS, web and What’s App. In combination with a software, which allows to store the data in the cloud, the collected data can be visualized on an interactive map with additional analysis tools. So local authorities can easily analyze public services citizens looking for with locations.