Suzanne Cant: Let’s get together

By Suzanne Cant, Social Accountability Adviser, World Vision International


Farmers need a voice. And not just through farmer organisations, while important. Farmers are citizens, as well as economic producers, and they need opportunities to talk directly with their political and bureaucratic leaders at local and national level.


(c) World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt
Zambia: Joseph is a former teacher. Today, he works as a successful dairy farmer.

What can happen when farmers get that opportunity?


Rwandese farmers in Byumba, in the country’s north, secured a 30 million Rwandese franc contract with the national government, after confronting officials with the poor performance of government contracted private seed firms. They argued they could produce better quality seed and deliver on time.


In Tanzania, farmers improved their land tenure by securing land titles for the first time after lobbying officials. Village certificates and accompanying tenure rights bring about a high sense of ownership resulting in more protection, investment in agriculture and conservation.


Kenyan farmers persuaded their local governments in Baringo and Nukuru, in the Rift Valley, to adopt and fund a globally recognised coppicing method for regenerating trees.


Ugandan farmers, supported through World Vision and the Ugandan Food Rights Alliance were heard at the very top: President Yoweri Museveni responded by issuing a directive to improve the productivity of agricultural inputs – after hearing direct feedback from farmers about poor quality agricultural inputs, governance structures and corruption. Now, more than 3000 Ugandan farmers are exchanging information with extension officers using a free mobile platform.


These results have been achieved with the support of World Vision playing a convening, brokering and facilitation role to support farmers, in coalition with FOs and other partners, to help farmers demand improved governance for food security, agricultural production and livelihoods.


By facilitating relevant, tangible and actionable civic education on government policies and planning for food security, WV supports farmers with the knowledge and confidence to engage with local government officials on whether and how government programs and policies are effective.


Through simple, but compelling, evidence-based social accountability approaches, farmers share their feedback through local and national platforms with key officials and decision makers in government.



(c) Christoph Püschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe
Suzanne Cant, Social Accountability Adviser, World Vision International

The approach, Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) has been positively tested in more than 20 independent evaluations, including studies in education and health by Oxford and Columbia Universities and one due to start shortly by University of Washington to cover food security.  CVA combines civic education, social audits of government standards (i.e. ratios of extension workers per head of population and if they are being met), community services scorecards, and advocacy based on citizen-generated data to effect changes in government policy and practice.


CVA is currently used in 715 multi-sectorial programmes in 47 countries. Once the data set, including gaps in government standards and farmer feedback, is gathered, action plans are agreed between service providers, farmers (including FOs) senior government officials and lobbying strategies supported to pressure government to respond. Farmers can use their own aggregated data to lobby at local and higher levels.


However, until very recently, collecting and aggregating farmer feedback to amplify to officials issues of poor governance at scale, has been limited due to the manual facilitation of the dataset produced during the meetings and activities. In what is believed to be a global first,  World Vision has developed a cloud-based database and app system, which can capture farmer feedback within and across countries at scale. Farmer feedback can be shared in real-time via an offline app and uploaded to the database. 


Automated reports can be produced and used for farmers to advocate on core issues to government. This has potential to serve as a model for national governments serious about using citizen feedback in addressing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 ‘Zero Hunger’ and SDG 16.6.2., i.e. the Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services.


Examples of the database reporting and its potential were shared at a recent panel event during the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York including Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim (Ghanaian Government statistician), Miriam Rosa González ( Advisor, Partner for Review, GIZ), Besinati Mpepo (Technical Director, Social Accountability, World Vision International), Ms. Jenna Slotin (Senior Director for Policy and Strategy, Global Partnership of Sustainable Development Data) and child representative Rosalinda from Indonesia.

A World Vision report, Putting People at the Centre of the Data Revolution: The Case for Citizen Generated Data for SDG Accountability, highlighted the data use opportunities for policy engagement.

Other examples of using citizen generated data can be accessed here.


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