Citizen Action for open, accountable, and inclusive institutions.

Project Title: Fix My Street

Project Period: 1 year

1. Project Description and Justification

Short Description of the Project

In support of improved public policies and inclusive decision-making, an online tool is created for civic monitoring of Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa municipalities activities on solving city problems based on direct reporting from affected citizens.

Summary

FixmyStreet.cd   will help and encourage Congolese to report local problems to the administration of Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa. The problems are located on a map and can be viewed and discussed by citizens, stakeholders and representatives of the competent government authority. The platform, launched through a year-long project, will enable the public to monitor the competent authorities reaction to a reported issue of concern.

Goals and objectives

The goal of FixmyStreet.cd    is to create an online platform that facilitates direct communication on local problems between citizens and the city of Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa ’s administration.

The goal of the platform is to encourage citizens to report issues in their neighborhood they are concerned about by lowering the barriers to get active, share, discuss problems with others, and monitor the authorities’ reactions.

Consequently, the project aims to create more public awareness and debate about dangerous problems on the streets of Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa. By bringing people’s concern about local problems into the public sphere, pressure on the competent authorities to address and solve those issues increases.

Reports of issues on the streets of the capital will make the targeted cutie’s authorities more responsive to problems that are reported by citizens.

The fact that all reports are public and that everybody will be able to monitor if and how the competent city authorities react to a complaint will increase the effectiveness of the authorities and help solving more local issues that are of concern to many people.

Finally, the project will produce an open-source platform, adopted to Congolese needs, allowing to collect and locate user reports on a map. The platform can be easily used and adopted by other civil society organizations (CSO) for civic monitoring purposes of their choice, thus providing them with a innovative, effective and free tool.

Need

In 2019, the DRC experienced a peaceful transfer of power since over 1960. This is a hugely important and welcome moment for congolese people. It is widely accepted that three decades of mismanagement, followed by two decades of severe conflict and instability, have left DRC as one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world.

Few civic monitoring activities are implemented in the targeted cities and hardly any citizens report local problems to the competent authorities or create local pressure groups in order to lobby for improvements of the street infrastructure in their neighborhood. There could be a number of reasons for this passive approach: There might be frustration with local politics and low expectations that the city administration will follow-up on a complaint or respond to the concern of a single individual who has no family connections to the competent authority; some people might be worried about negative consequences if they get publicly engaged and lobby around a specific issue they are concerned about; others citizens might be deterred from complaining because they do not know which are the competent bodies a complaint should be directed to; finally, many citizens of targeted cities might still not have a feeling of ownership of their city, of their neighborhood, of their street – believing that what every happens outside the walls of their apartment is somebody else’s problem.

FixmyStreet.cd   will work around these reasons and significantly lower the barrier for Congolese to engage in active civic monitoring. The project will help citizens to report and discuss local problems with other stakeholders.

Target group and beneficiaries

The project aims to reach out and appeal to all people living in and around Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa who regularly or at least sometimes use the internet. According to a TARGET SARL survey from September 2015, 60 percent of the internet cell phone users were online every day.  All trends indicate a fast growth rate of the Congolese population that is online.

In addition, 6 million Congolese cell phone users use 3G mobile internet on their cell phones, according to the DRC Telecommunication Regulation Authority (ARPTC).[2] We will encourage Congolese journalists and bloggers to adopt a similar approach, explaining that people deeply care about issues that are tangible and very close to them, especially if this problem poses a potential threat to them and their immediate environment.

  • Poster-campaign: CERC will launch an advertising campaign once the platform is online and fully functioning, aiming to make people aware of problems on the streets and to encourage them to use cd . Project staff will go out and look for problems on the streets of Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa, then enter them into the database (users will only start contributing to a platform once several reports are already on it), print out flyers for the specific problem, and then post those posters or stickers next to the problem.
  • Flyers: Project staff will distribute flyers at central locations in targeted cities, in front of Metro-stations and universities. This will be done in the launch phase of the project in order to reach as many potential users of the platform as possible, so that information about the existence of the platform spreads further via word of mouth and social media.
  • Posting of problem-specific flyers by users: Next to each report, there will be a button saying “print flyer”. This will automatically create an A4-page, based on a template, saying “Let’s get this fixed!”(in Swahili, Lingala and French), with the headline of the problem in large font, and below the description of the problem in smaller font, as well as the URL of the website, where other concerned people can comment on this particular problem, vote for fixing it or monitor if it has been addressed by the competent authority. Thus, people who feel strongly about one problem on their street can easily print out a few copies of their reported problem at home, at work or at an internet cafe, and put them on public display in the immediate surrounding of the reported issue.

Technology used to create the website

The website will be based on the open source code of FixMyStreet.com, a website that has become very successful in the United Kingdom (with more than 25,000 problems reported so far)[4], an English civil society organization, and programmers in Canada[6]

Expected Results

The project will create a group of more active citizens who use simple, new technologies to demand improvements and engage with their local administration.

The conditions on the streets of Uvira, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi and Kinshasa will improve, as the local government becomes more responsive and fixes issues that are of concern to the people.

A more evidence-based public debate will be triggered about potential dangers in targeted cities, about better city planning and how to better address the problems locals have identified.

Long Term Effect

The project will contribute to increased citizen activism in resolution of local problems and holding the government accountable.

Skills and practices of citizens in engagement with the authorities will develop.

By engaging in a dialogue with active and concerned citizens, local decision making will become more inclusive and transparent.

The example of this project will inspire other CSOs and citizens to engage in civic monitoring and advocacy, including by using the platform developed by this project.

Measuring Success

The success and impact of FixmyStreet.cd   will be measured through a number of quantitative indicators: The reach of the project will be indicated by the number of unique visitors, unique clients, visits, page views and the average time on site it receives.

The number of reported problems and the number of individuals actively contributing to the website will serve as an indicator of the active involvement of citizens triggered by this project.

The number of reported problems that are solved by the city authorities and the time between reporting, acknowledgment and fixing will serve as an indicator of the government agency’s responsiveness.

The number of media reports and blog posts mentioning the platform and reporting on street related problems will be an indicator for increasing public attention and debate on these local problems.

Sustainability

Once FixMyStreet.cd is developed, tested, improved, established and after it has attracted significant attention and contributors, the website will be able to continue operating at minimal costs.[1] Once an small core community of enthusiastic contributors emerges, it is possible that members of this group continue operating the project on a volunteer basis through monitoring new reports posted to the platform and, if necessary, deleting inappropriate content, making the project self-sustainable. Alternatively, CERC would be able to sustain the platform though its operational budget after the end of the project, given the small scale of the costs required. Alternatively, users could be encouraged to make a voluntary donation to support the operation of the website.

The platform of FixmyStreet.cd, including all programming codes, will be made public under an open source license. Thus, any individual or civil society organization will be able to use the tool and further develop and adopt the platform for specific purposes. Future projects that could utilize the online-platform developed for FixmyStreet.cd   could include efforts to monitor and document problems of water supply, sewage issues, power outages, crimes, pollution and illegal waste-dumping and illegal locking.

CERC will be happy to share its experience and expertise with other interested civil society actors and offer consultations to interested individuals and organizations.

II   Basic Information about CERC

Juridical status: Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption is a Congolese non-profit organization with the status of an “Association”.

Registration Numbers5258/2017 Ministry of Justice of DRC: 09.11.2017

Current members of CERC are:

  • Heri Bitamala, Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Activist.
  • Albert Msambya Labani, lawyer.
  • Bitundwa Rushindisha, lawyer.
  • Saleh bitendelo, Finance Consultant
  • Loketo Evariste, Project Development Consultant

Project Director: Loketo Evariste

Email: [email protected]

Executive Director of CERC:

Heri Bitamala

Email: [email protected]

About CERC

CERC was established on 15 April 2017 as a local non-governmental organization committed to combating corruption in Democratic Republic of the Congo through the promotion of transparency and accountability. It brings people together to end the devastating impact of corruption on citizens and assist the Congolese government in facilitating reform in sectors where corruption exists, to build and strengthen institutions and to promote good governance.

CERS’s vision is for Congolese’s to live in a society free of corruption. Our mission is to work together with individuals and institutions at all levels to promote integrity and reduce corruption in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Our core values include integrity, accountability, transparency, solidarity, justice and democracy.

Relevant experience in new technologies

In the past year, CERC has made the use of new technologies and innovative social media tools to promote transparency, openness and accountability its priority. We have successfully built some capacity in this field and received support from Integrity Action, a UK based NGO to implement a social accountability project in Uvira.

Relevant Experience in monitoring

Monitoring of development projects and public services performance and budgets has been a primary activity of Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption during the last years. Since its establishment in 2017.

CERC’s new civic monitoring initiatives

CERC has recently received a 4-years grant from Integrity Action (requested funding: USD 184,988) with a project entitled “Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality”. The aim of this project is mobilize students with innovations in technology, and education to monitor and demand accountability from project implementers and service providers. Corruption impedes development; information, problem solving and transparency reduces its risk.

CERC has not applied for funding to other donors to implement FixmyStreet.cd  .

CERC’s plan for 2019-2021

In the next years, CERC will focus on promoting the transparency, openness and accountability of Congolese state institutions, the government and political actors. We will focus our activities on monitoring public spending and assessing the effectiveness of key state institutions. In addition, CERC will continue to monitor the flow and use of donor money in DR Congo. In all these fields, CERC is aspiring to deploy innovative technologies and use new media tools to engage with citizens. Together with the people, we want to use new technologies to promote transparency, hold state institutions accountable for their actions, strengthen the responsiveness of decision makers and make government data and information publicly available.

Partners

Over the past years, CERC has closely cooperated with Integrity building and anti-corruption expert Fredrik Galtung[email protected]Dynamic OpenGov (Dyntra), contact person, Erwin De Grave, Cofounder & International Relations Director (+34 678 24 38 19), Accountability Lab USA, contact person, Blair Glencorse, CEO (+1-202-294-8831, [email protected]) and implemented several projects funded by the Integrity Action UK, contact person, Jasmina Haynes, Chief Executive Officer ([email protected]).

In case you have any questions about CERC work, please feel free to contact these organizations to learn more about their experiences in working with us.


[1] We estimate annual operating costs could be as low as 360 USD (USD 300 for the hosting of the website, USD 70 for the domain). One realistic option is to cover these expenses by offering some limited online-advertising on the website.

[1] The blog is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/metro/daily-gripe/index.html?hpid=localquicklinks.

[4] The source code of FixMySteet.com is available for download under the GNU Affero GPL software license at http://github.com/mysociety/fixmystreet

[6] Alternatively, FixMyStreet could also utilize the user-generated OpensStreetMap of DRC: http://www.openstreetmap.org.

[7] We estimate annual operating costs could be as low as 360 USD (USD 300 for the hosting of the website, USD 70 for the domain). One realistic option is to cover these expenses by offering some limited online-advertising on the website.