In this proposal, we want to address three interrelated problems in Yemen: limited direct participation by citizens in government’s decision-making process, division between citizens and their representatives, and limited capacities of the local authorities. These issues affect the people’s daily lives:
Lack of accountability and transparency
There is no mechanism of pursuing the State’ accountability. In principle, citizens’ have an opportunity to vote in every four years for local council and every six years for national legislatives. However, in reality last time Yemeni citizens had a chance to vote for their representatives at the national legislative was April 2003 and the local elections were conducted only in 2006. In addition, Millennium Challenge Cooperation reported the level of freedom of information in Yemen as 21% as well as control of corruption as 21% (percentile ranking and 50 percent is the median). It created people’s distrust in the government.
Lack of access to services
Defining the Challenge, Making the Change (2014) reported a weakness of the level of public service provision in Yemen: Public electricity covers only 42% of the population (even which is often interrupted), security, judiciary and local authority services are provided only about 35.2%, public water supplies and sanitation services cover only about 26% and 16% of the population respectively. In Yemen, government effectiveness is reported as 30% according to Millennium Challenge Cooperation. Conflict Assessment in Yemen (2013) observed that “basic services are seen as being closely related to governance and notion of political exclusion” and until the government starts providing key services, Yemenis would not trust the government
In the proposed solution, we support district authorities and local CSOs in Taiz governorate to collect data (demographic, economic and social data) and verify the information with citizens. District local authorities will use the data in developing district plan and identifying district projects. Traditionally, district authorities collects data (if they do) from line ministries’ departments in the district. However, the information is not always updated or does not exist. Citizens' direct participation will not only ensure evidence-based district plans but also identification of data relevant for their lives. The process was facilitated by local CSOs and sent to district local authorities. CSOs can also use the information in advocating peoples’ needs to local authorities. This would result in enhancing transparency to citizen through their participation in the government district planning process and information availability to public.
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. Since What’s App is more widely used by male Yemenis, we propose to use SMS and web, too, to ensure wemen's participation. We will support scaling up the existing initiative in Taiz by linking it with local authorities and replicate in other districts. In combination with a software, which allows to store the data in the cloud, the district authorities can share the data among the districts and with the governorate authority, which would improve synergies and coherence between district and governorate plans. The solution would improve transparency and accountability between the government and citizens.