Frontline communities holding responders accountable

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A way for frontline communities to hold response groups accountable.


Local populations already have a good idea of what their needs and resources are. Especially when working with groups like Public Labs, they have metrics associated with their environments. Response agencies should be addressing not only immediate needs but doing so in ways which alleviate long-term issues as well.

Community-held maps about environment and ongoing needs can be offered to response agencies as baseline data. A rapid proposal process can be created for response agencies to state what work they would be doing and their metrics. The frontline population would then decide which response groups can come into their space. The effectiveness of the response groups in fulfilling their proposals would be assessed by the community and published in transparent reports.

This can, at its most simple, boil down to a statement of intent or need, followed by ongoing assessment of if needs are being fulfilled. Those statements and metrics can then be sent to the population, response organizations, donors, and constituents as the response unfolds.

The individual should be the gauge of compliance, and accountability should be to the people rather than to the donors. Metrics of success should be set by the local population, and it is possible for existing technology to provide overviews of status and to expose comprehensive objectives and understandings. This is the difference between a body cam, which is police regulated, and a bystander recording, which is community regulated.

The project

A simple standard ledger of templates for personal accounting, useful for individual planning and contributed to a community for auditing. A "Request for Proposals to Help," of sorts.

This might be as simple as statements such as these, documented in the public record:

affected communities to responders: "You will (a clear change from a current state to a different state) for (population/region/etc) by (date)."
  • for responders to communities: "We will (a clear change from a current state to a different state) for (population/project/etc) by (date)."

Surrounding facilitation practices and templates to arrive at these statements can be created. Existing technical tools might be implemented for this new purpose/space, such as the telling of stories being done through Global Voices or a platform such as MicroAggressions, Follow The Money to track how finances are being used, Get Satisfaction as shaming on the record, the Listening Project as asking frontline communities if aid has actually assisted their livelihoods, and Promise Tracker as logging politicians' promises and delivery.