Citizens Foundation works with the World Bank to facilitate feedback from those they seek to aid and benefit through their investment programs in a number of projects. Traditionally, even for multi-million dollar investment projects, the standard procedure is to invite constituents of the region receiving aid to come to a meeting place in the large cities of their countries, to a one or two day event, in which World Bank facilitators listened to their concerns. If a concerned citizen can not make it to that event, they could not voice their concerns.
Beginning at the end of 2019, the Your Priorities platform started to be piloted instead of face-to-face citizen engagement meetings, first in Kosovo and when Covid-19 hit the platform became the main citizen engagement method for a large project in Kyrgyzstan, in collaboration with ARIS, a local development agency, and the World Bank. This method began allowing more citizens affected by an investment program to voice their comments and concerns, share input and raise objections. The Kyrgyz Republic represents one major success story in our partnership with the World Bank, achieving excellent levels of participation and engagement on the part of the Kyrgyz people.
In partnership with the World Bank, ARIS uses Your Priorities for several different projects, including Village Investment Project 3, Sustainable Water and Sanitation Project, and Heat Supply Improvement Project. The leading citizen engagement activities are in the CASA1000 Community Support Project. CASA 1000 is a community-driven development project that aims to support communities along the CASA1000 electric transmission line through livelihood and economic opportunities. The project aims to support 450 villages, and beneficiaries participate in decision-making on village electricity improvements, construction of health facilities, and climate adaptation and mitigation projects. Overall the platform has made the project more transparent and accountable through participatory monitoring and reporting.
As a developing country with most internet traffic being on modest smartphones using WhatsApp, our platform’s adaptability across devices made it an ideal fit. ARIS developed an ingenious plan where local village leaders subscribe to certain WhatsApp channels to be informed about new opportunity to participate, and let people know in the village. Tens of thousands of comments and suggestions from over 160,000 engaged citizens in hundreds of villages in the Kyrgyz Republic, a remarkable increase in the number of people understanding and taking advantage of their chance to shape and direct the investment of a major global institution in the quality of their lives in a developing economy, destabilized by a pandemic.
Over the years, our collaboration with World Bank has been fruitful. Many new features have been developed for the Your Priorities platform. The needs for features presented in this project and other World Bank projects have driven the development of many of our key features. Our Survey system is now much more advanced; we have a back-end feature to prepare and clone thousands of separate engagement stages easily, custom user registration questions can be asked on a group by group basis, and many other valuable features have been added.