Strengthening our Accountability to people we work with

Communities and young people should be involved in making decisions about programmes that affect them, from design and delivery to monitoring and evaluation.

NGOs, Agencies, Government, among others, must be accountable to the communities and young people they serve. They should share with them as much information about their work as they can, so that the people they work with are well informed about programs that affect them. For example, they must constantly organise feedback sessions with community members, including those who are marginalised and invite them to tell what they think about the projects and activities, and show that their opinions matter.

How do we strengthen accountability to our beneficiaries?

At CERC, we make sure to listen and respond to community opinions, treat them with respect and show that their opinions matter.

We listen to young people’s voices to be sure that our programmes are responding to their needs. Young people’s views are critical to our programme delivery, making our work more relevant and sustainable, and allowing young people to be an active part of their own development.

This approach allows us to run programmes that are more relevant to people’s real priorities and needs. It allows us to hear feedback about our programmes and adapt them as a result. So, it improves the quality of our work, as well as building the self-confidence of community members to claim their rights.

Our years of experience working in communities gives us credibility and ensures that young people and communities feel comfortable working openly and honestly with us. We use a range of participation methods – always adapted for the local context – to ensure that we communicate properly with young people and communities about the programmes we are running.

How we did it in the past?

A crucial element of our community integrity building program has been a two-way feedback system between communities and decision-makers.

Community feedback has been facilitated by young people, who used methods such as text messaging, phone interviews and radio call-ins to gather opinions and ideas. This feedback helped shape CERC’s ongoing program, as well as the responses of other organisations. By supporting young people to gather this feedback, they gained valuable skills and had the opportunity for their voices to be heard by community leaders.

Reaching and engaging marginalized youth

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, many children from minority-marginalized groups suffer from injustice, difficulty-accessing school, and violence on their way to and at school as well as child marriage and labour. Missing out on an education will mean that students living with disabilities and those from marginalized groups will remain underrepresented in our future leaders.

How is CERC curbing stigma and marginalization?

Empowerment and Participation can enable youth and people living with disabilities and those form marginalized groups to have the knowledge and skills to behave responsibly and to play an active role in social, economic and political decision-making.

CERC actively sought the participation of students of marginalized minority groups that faced a variety of barriers and challenges due to their identity and systemic oppression in that context.

With the Student Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality project, CERC was integrated gender equality and social inclusion into every aspect of the Community Integrity Building program. Our partner’s schools was trained and supported to reduce inequalities and exclusion in education.

Outcome

With this investment, we have empowered women, girls, and all individuals at risk of exclusion within the communities in which CERC works to actively participate in decision that affect their lives.

The students from the minority groups that engaged took on additional leadership roles within the Integrity Clubs were empowered by their participation and were able to monitor the delivery of education and infrastructure services in their schools and communities. The participation had multiplier effects for those students, who, in many cases, were experiencing less exclusion due to their participation. Moreover, the participation of diverse youth strengthened the group.

Why it Worked

By providing a diverse base of youth the opportunity to engage with other youth and gain tangible skills, youth were incentivized to participate in social, economic and political decision-making and had something to gain from the experience. The diversity of the Integrity Clubs strengthened participation and improved the benefits of participating for all students involved.

In addition, by creating a selective process for participation, engagement was framed as a privilege and opportunity and there was space to hand select a diverse and representative group that could benefit from engagement.

Student engagement helps to improve the quality and relevance of Congolese youth education.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) education system is plagued by low coverage and poor quality. Some of the challenges that the country faces in the education sector are the corruption, as well as high repetition rates and large numbers of students per class in secondary schools. Moreover, the quality of education is inadequate to better respond to youth education needs.

One idea that is gaining ground is that young students who are seen as direct schools users can contribute to the improvement of educational service delivery and infrastructure within their schools, as they can better monitor its quality and are directly encouraged to looking for solutions. In addition, their contributions can help to mobilise existing community resources to support education.

The Institut Bon Pasteur is a Catholic school that was created in 2011 with a capacity of 300 students. But given the high enrollment rate, In 2015, the management committee and the parents’ committee have agreed to fund the construction of two new classrooms and the rehabilitation of latrins that no longer met demand.

In october 2017, CERC has put in place a school-based monitoring system at Institut Bon Pasteur to give young students a greater role in overseeing school infrastructure services and encourage greater community involvement in finding solutions to problems that hinder the children education. Integrity Club is a student-led civic space that encourages students to use technology to monitor education and infrastructure services within their schools and communities, and to provide citizen feedback on access to information, community participation and the effectiveness of projects/ services.

In december 2017, CERC trained 15 community monitors on community integrity building and on DevelopmentCheck. In May 2018, the trained community monitors started monitoring the school building while activities were at a standstill. For the first time, they had contacted the Headmaster to inquire why the activities were stopped. According to the principal, the insufficient materials and the commitment of the parents caused the stoppage project activities.

In August 2018, the monitors approached CERC and a joint working group meeting was organized bringing together the community monitors, the parents’ committee, the school management committee and CERC to find solutions to this problem. During the meeting, the parents’ committee and the management committee agreed to restart the project activities with available ressources before 2019.

Thanks to students engagement, in early November, the project activities began, giving a glimmer of hope to a hundred students who will now use classrooms that meet the Ministry of Education standard.

Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption have been an Integrity Action partner since 2017. During this time, CERC have trained 300 youth as community monitors. The monitors have overseen 21 infrastructure projects and education services valued at around $32,000,000. Their interventions have led to the resolution of 20% of identified problems. CERC and the Integrity Club members’ monitoring and constructive engagement has improved services for around 10,000 people

Helping young people to improve school infrastructures in Uvira

Helping young people to improve school infrastructures in Uvira

Notre Dame Institute is a reference school in the city of Uvira and receives a sufficient number of students. The school is experiencing a very serious problem related to the lack of classes and the lack of toilets meeting health standards. This school has only eight classrooms for a number of more than 814 students enrolled.What makes that the school organizes two vacations.

In 2014 the DRC Social Fund through the World Bank funded project was provided funds for the construction of 6 additional classrooms and 6 toilets which will accommodate the 814 children in one vacation. The construction work started in March 2017.

CERC is an independent organization that works with young people to build integrity and good governance in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help of young community monitors, CERC ensures that the funds allocated for community projects are properly distributed so that the projects benefit the intended beneficiaries. CERC’s training on Community Integrity Building (CIB) enables monitors to assess quality and availability of equipment and infrastructure, performance of the teaching team, collect evidence, conduct beneficiary surveys, verify findings as well as engage with stakeholders such as implementing agencies, contractors, head teacher, parent committee and teachers association to fix problems.

In April 2018, the monitors trained by CERC discovered that there were several serious problems with the project’s implementation. With training they received they have been able to detect that the project period was depassed. It was planned that the work lasts only 90 days to allow students to use the buildings in September 2017 as stated in the contract.

In April 2018, the monitors organized a meeting with the key stakeholders. This meeting was attended by the Construction company, local development committee, the headteacher, teachers and student leaders from Notre Dame Institute.

According to the construction agency, the project is delayed because the community does not respect the clauses of the contract. It was agreed in the project contract that resident contribute 10% worth $ 10,000 in cash or building materials.

During the meeting, the local development committee agreed to collect the 10% from resident. and the contractor agreed to the demands and pledged to finalise the project within the additional time agreed with the Joint Working Group.

The classrooms and toilets were completed in August 2018. Thanks to the training they were received from CERC, young people were able to identify and solve problems with a project being built in their community.

Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption have been an Integrity Action partner since 2017. During this time, CERC have trained 300 youth as community monitors. The monitors have overseen 21 infrastructure projects and education services valued at around $32,000,000. Their interventions have led to the resolution of 20% of identified problems. CERC and the Integrity Club members’ monitoring and constructive engagement has improved services for around 10,000 people

Originally published at Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption.

Integrity Club convinced school officials to build extra toilets and classrooms

Access to education is a major challenge for children living in South Kivu. Children living in rural areas study in poor conditions. Schools are overcrowded and often lack equipment, water and sanitation facilities, and adequate teaching and learning materials.

In October 2017, Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption launched an initiative to improve education in South-Kivu by engaging young people through Integrity club. CERC established 35 Integrity Clubs in Uvira and trained 525 students were trained as community monitors to ensure quality education accessible to all children.

CERC is an independent organization that works with young people to build integrity and good governance in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help of young community monitors, CERC ensures that the funds allocated for community projects are properly distributed so that the projects benefit the intended beneficiaries.

CERC’s training on Community Integrity Building (CIB) enables monitors to assess quality and availability of equipment and infrastructure, performance of the teaching team, collect evidence, conduct beneficiary surveys, verify findings as well as engage with stakeholders such as head teacher, parent committee and teachers association to fix problems.

To ensure that the school deliver a better education and improve its infrastructures so that student learn in acceptable conditions, 15 monitors from Institut Itara trained by CERC have been monitoring their school since February 2018.

In April 2018, community monitors discovered that the school’s infrastructure was dirty and dangerous. They also discovered that school facilities could not cope with the demand. This meant that the school had only three washrooms for 590 students and that some classrooms were overcrowded. The school’s ability to ensure better access to education has been seriously compromised, putting students at risk.

A new toilets completed after community monitors convinced school officials to build extra-toilets.

After the community monitors reported the problem to School management, In April 2014, the school management has immediately undertook to repair the broken desks and the construction of a block of three classrooms. After a Joint Working Group meeting in August 2018 gathered the community monitors, parents’ committee, the school management committee, and CERC, they also undertook the construction of 8 washrooms including those of the girls.

In October 2018, the new classrooms were completed and a block of eight latrines is under construction, while the school continues fundraising to rehabilitate other classrooms.

As a result, students in improved schools are now benefiting from better sanitary facilities and constructed classrooms with enough space to fit all students on the school benches.