Category Archives: Democracy in Hard Places

Americas Watch as U.S. Democracy is Tested

On February 28th, 2017, Ash Center Non-resident Senior Fellow Peter Quilter testified before Congress on the state of the Western Hemisphere. Quilter warned that developments or attacks on U.S. democracy have a good chance of rippling through the Americas. This post is an excerpt from the testimony and shares Quilter’s thoughts on the state of Venezuela and what the U.S. should (or shouldn’t) do about it. Read the full testimony and watch the video online.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Democracy Program

First Chapter: Why Elections Fail by Pippa Norris

9781107679023Below is an excerpt from Pippa Norris’s book, Why Elections Fail. Paul. F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at HKS, Pippa Norris is a long-time friend and Faculty Affiliate of the Ash Center, where she gave a book-talk last fall.

Electoral integrity, the set of international norms governing the appropriate conduct of elections, is more complex than the popular focus on ballot stuffing and vote buying. In Why Elections Fail, Norris argues that the rules preventing political actors from manipulating electoral governance are needed to secure integrity, although at the same time, officials need sufficient resources and capacities to manage elections effectively.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Elections, First Chapter, Participation, Voting Rights

Is Showing Up Enough? Lessons from Mobilizing for Participatory Budgeting in Rural Kenya

KeeleyIn this post, Juliette Keeley, MPP ‘17, explores the issue of elite capture in participatory budgeting processes. She highlights HKS Associate Professor of Public Policy Ryan Sheely’s randomized experiment in rural Kenya, which seeks to understand the links between mobilization, participatory budgeting, and elite capture. The study finds that mobilization is important in increasing participation, but may not prevent government officials, the wealthy, or other elites from co-opting the participatory budgeting processes in ways that serve their interests. More research and innovative solutions are necessary to ensure participatory budgeting enables everyday citizens, not elites, to decide how local funds are allocated. Follow our past coverage of participatory budgeting click here.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Participation, Participatory Budgeting

The Surprising Power of Stories for Accountability: From Testable Theories to Motivating Tales

22737545512_d985f95933_q (1)Today’s post from Courtney Tolmie is the fourth in an occasional series, cross-posted on the Results for Development blog, that shares insights from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Initiative. The T4D Initiative—a joint effort of the Ash Center and Results for Development—is about empowering people, improving maternal and newborn health, and learning. It was developed to answer questions about what determines whether an intervention can increase citizen empowerment while improving health outcomes at the same time. Although the project is ongoing and final results are a long way off, T4D is excited to share initial take-aways about the importance of local context, community involvement, mixed methods evaluations, co-design, and piloting.

Courtney Tolmie is Program Director at Results for Development, a non-profit organization whose mission is to unlock solutions to tough development challenges that prevent people in low- and middle-income countries from realizing their full potential. She is a principal investigator on the T4D Initiative alongside Archon Fung, who serves as Chief of Party. In this post, Tolmie shares T4D’s experience using Social Action Stories to empower people to improve their community health service delivery by determining and undertaking collaborative actions.

Read the other posts in this series here.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Innovation, Participation, Transparency for Development

Does the World Need Another Toolkit? 4 Ways to Use Transparency, Accountability, and Health Resources from the T4D Project

22737545512_d985f95933_q (1)Today’s post from Courtney Tolmie is the third in an occasional series, cross-posted on the Results for Development blog, that shares insights from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Initiative. The T4D Initiative—a joint effort of the Ash Center and Results for Development—is about empowering people, improving maternal and newborn health, and learning. It was developed to answer questions about what determines whether an intervention can increase citizen empowerment while improving health outcomes at the same time. Although the project is ongoing and final results are a long way off, T4D is excited to share initial take-aways about the importance of local context, community involvement, mixed methods evaluations, co-design, and piloting.

Courtney Tolmie is Program Director at Results for Development, a non-profit organization whose mission is to unlock solutions to tough development challenges that prevent people in low- and middle-income countries from realizing their full potential. She is a principal investigator on the T4D Initiative alongside Archon Fung, who serves as Chief of Party. In this post, Tolmie shares four ways practitioners can use the transparency, accountability, and health resources developed during the T4D project in a broad range of initiatives.

Read the other posts in this series here.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Innovation, Participation, Transparency for Development

Failing Fast: 3 Things We Have Learned about Engaging and Empowering Communities

22737545512_d985f95933_q (1)Today’s post from Courtney Tolmie is the second in an occasional series, cross-posted on the Results for Development blog, that shares insights from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Initiative. The T4D Initiative—a joint effort of the Ash Center and Results for Development—is about empowering people, improving maternal and newborn health, and learning. It was developed to answer questions about what determines whether an intervention can increase citizen empowerment while improving health outcomes at the same time. Although the project is ongoing and final results are a long way off, T4D is excited to share initial take-aways about the importance of local context, community involvement, mixed methods evaluations, co-design, and piloting.

Courtney Tolmie is Program Director at Results for Development, a non-profit organization whose mission is to unlock solutions to tough development challenges that prevent people in low- and middle-income countries from realizing their full potential. She is a principal investigator on the T4D Initiative alongside Archon Fung, who serves as Chief of Party. In this post, Tolmie shares three lessons about the importance of piloting and iterative learning before launching a large intervention.

Read other posts in this series here.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Innovation, Participation, Transparency for Development

The Challenges of Ensuring Credible Elections

KeeleyIn this post, HKS student Juliette Keeley, MPP ‘17 delves into the challenges of election monitoring and highlights innovations designed to address different aspects of this complex problem. She lays out the advantages and shortcomings of using technology in various capacities to improve election-reporting mechanisms, to report and limit violence and intimidation, and to map community-based organizations. Keeley finds that widespread on-the-ground mobilization and citizen participation are common themes running throughout the most successful election monitoring initiatives.

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy in Hard Places, Elections, Innovation, Participation, Representation, Technology, Voting Rights

How to Empower People and Save Babies: 5 Things That Might Work (And 5 That Definitely Won’t)

22737545512_d985f95933_q (1)Today’s post from Courtney Tolmie is the first in an occasional series, cross-posted on the Results for Development blog, that will share insights from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Initiative. The T4D Initiative—a joint effort of the Ash Center and Results for Development—is about empowering people, improving health, and learning. It was developed to answer questions about what determines whether an intervention will be successful in increasing citizen empowerment and improving health outcomes. Although the project is ongoing and final results are a long way off, T4D is an exciting initiative that takes an innovative approach to local context, community involvement, mixed methods evaluations, co-design, and piloting.

Tolmie is Program Director at Results for Development, a non-profit organization whose mission is to unlock solutions to tough development challenges that prevent people in low- and middle-income countries from realizing their full potential. She is a principal investigator on the T4D Initiative alongside Archon Fung, who serves as Chief of Party. In this post, Tolmie introduces the initiative and shares some of the T4D team’s early learning and takeaways in the form of five lessons about transparency and accountability intervention design.

Read other posts in this series here.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Innovation, Participation, Transparency for Development

Student Research Explores Open Government Reform in Tunisia

nada_7This post, originally published by the Ash Center, profiles recent Harvard Kennedy School grad Nada Zohdy, MPP ’15. As a student Zohdy studied the mechanics of new forms of citizen participation and engagement both close to home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in the Middle East/North Africa. Zohdy now manages the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C., a co-working community where she interacts daily with people from across the globe who are working on the frontiers of open government. Read more about the Ash Center’s Democracy in Hard Places initiative, which seeks to understand why democratic institutions thrive in some countries while failing in others.
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Filed under Arab Spring, Cambridge Participatory Budgeting, Democracy in Hard Places, Innovation, Participation, Participatory Budgeting, Students

A Tepid International Response to the Rohingya Migrant Crisis

Derek-PhamIn this post, originally published by the Kennedy School Review, HKS student Derek Pham comments on the regional and international response to the persecution and emigration of Rohingya refugees, a Muslim minority in Myanmar. “The Myanmar Government refuses to recognize them as one of the country’s ethnic groups and instead views them as illegal migrant Bangladeshis,” Pham writes. “Bangladesh does not recognize them as well and has refused to accept the newest refugees. The Rohingya thus remain stateless.” Pham neatly ties together historical, political, and humanitarian perspectives and suggests promising solutions. To read more about Myanmar, visit the Ash Center’s Myanmar Program, which works to deepen our understanding of the development and democratic governance challenges facing Myanmar.
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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Immigration & Citizenship, Myanmar, Students