Thursday 28 November 2013

My new job

I am hugely excited about joining the Making All Voices Count programme as Director of Policy & Learning in Johannesburg. The programme is a global initiative that supports innovation, scaling, and research to deepen existing innovations and help harness new technologies to enable citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

This Grand Challenge focuses global attention on creative and cutting-edge solutions, including those that use mobile and web technology, to ensure the voices of all citizens are heard and that governments have the capacity, as well as the incentive, to listen and respond.

Making All Voices Count is supported by the U.K Department for International Development (DFID), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Open Society Foundations (OSF) and Omidyar Network (ON), and is implemented by a consortium consisting of Hivos (lead organisation), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Ushahidi.

The aim of Making All Voices Count is a substantial push towards effective democratic governance and accountability. The conviction is that open government depends on closing the feedback loop between citizens and government. And given that every major survey of what people across the world want to see in the next global development framework places governance near the top, it is fourth on the MyWorld survey for example, this is a hugely exciting challenge.

I am, however, very much torn at the prospect of leaving International Alert, not only the UK's leading peacebuilding NGO but I would say one of the most amazing organisations I have ever come across. Alert grew out of Amnesty International in the early days and combines a focus on human rights with the business of first understanding, and then getting to the root causes of the violence that creates the conditions for those rights to be abused. They work, often behind the scenes and with little thanks, in places where the relationship between communities and political elites are broken, often completely absent, with the human misery that follows. In working, over long, thankless and often painful years way after the TV cameras have moved on, they concentrate on developing ways to re-establish those relationships with the means to manage conflict without the use of armed violence.

In a sense, these states are ground zero for the challenge of achieving open, responsive and effective governance - and having had the privilege of working alongside some of the most inspiring people you could ever hope to meet I hope I can take that experience into this next challenge.

Who knows, get it right, and we could change the world!


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