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The Network for Integrity in Reconstruction: Community-Driven Accountability in Post-War Countries.

Organization(s)

Required Campaign for Human Rights and Social Transformation (CAHURAST); Chirezi Foundation (FOCHI); Conflict Resolution Centre (CRC); Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA); Luta Hamutuk (LH); Poverty Reduction Strategy Tracking Network (PRSTN) Teacher Creativity Center (TCC); Tiri – Making Integrity Work (Tiri).

Country (ies) and institutions

NIR is currently active in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nepal, Palestine and Timor Leste, and engaging CSOs in Sierra Leone and North and South Sudan.

Overview

Tiri established the Network for Integrity in Reconstruction (NIR) to contribute to stable and effective reconstruction in post-war countries by empowering citizens to act with and demand integrity, actively taking part in (re) building institutions to promote aid and a state that is open, accountable and responsive to their needs.

Background and set-up

Tiri initially led a series of consultations with experts from eight Southern policy centres to investigate the issue of corruption in their post-war countries. The post-war researchers conducted and published the most extensive empirical research to date on transparency and accountability in post-war reconstruction. Based upon these findings, the need for a network to promote and lead community-driven accountability in post-war countries emerged.

For most, post-war reconstruction is fortunately an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Few have had opportunities to compare their experience and learning with peers in other post-war settings. During a South-South knowledge and experience exchange facilitated by Tiri, partners found that there were in fact several similarities. Overall, they found that the immediate post-war years mark a crucial period, since citizens often have high expectations of the future. The end of war presents a window of opportunity to improve the lives of citizens through service delivery and peace dividends. In most cases however, weak state capacities and the lack of accountability enable corruption to become entrenched within the reconstruction process leading to poor results as well as increased disenchantment and frustration among citizens. As these Southern experts found that their post-war contexts shared these similar issues and risks, it became obvious that a South-South knowledge network was needed to find appropriate solutions. Tiri therefore established the Network for Integrity in Reconstruction (NIR), which rapidly expanded beyond policy and research groups in the capitals to include community-based and civil society organisations engaging local communities in monitoring the effectiveness and accountability of reconstruction in their post-war countries.

Currently, NIR operates in countries which share the three major structural characteristics of post-war reconstruction: (1) the threat of a potential return to violence is high; (2) where state institutions are weak (most often as a direct result of the war); (3) where large-scale reconstruction is underway.

NIR at present supports a number of civil society organisations (CSOs) to actively engage local communities in monitoring post-war reconstruction in their countries. These CSOs mobilize and train communities to assess key projects, such as schools, clinics and roads, and advocate for greater accountability and public participation in post-war reconstruction. Community engagement, whereby citizens have access to information, build their capacities and strengthen state-society relations through collaboration, increases local ownership of post-war reconstruction. NIR's experience has shown that this process of inclusion and accountability to post-war citizens reduces both corruption as well as the risk of return to violence.

The partnership

Tiri provides small grants (between $20,000 and $60,000 per year) to NIR partners, with 1/3rd of the grant earmarked for capacity building of the country partners. Northern donors too often dominate the development process. In NIR, however, Southern partners and communities identify which post-war reconstruction programmes, projects and services to focus on, in which localities, through a process supported by Tiri. For example, the Congolese NIR partner engages local communities in South Kivu in the monitoring and evaluation of reconstruction projects, such as water pumps, community markets and health centres. The communities are central to selecting which projects they want to monitor to ensure ownership of the process. If any problems are identified with the projects, the NIR partner collaborates with the relevant community leaders, teachers, donor organisations, contractors and local government authorities to find a viable solution. When the community monitors in South Kivu discovered that the water was brown and undrinkable due to low quality water pipes, the NIR partner joined forces with them and approached the donor organisation to find a solution. After a series of meetings with the donor organisation, the contractor was finally told to replace the low quality materials with proper high standard water pipes. As a result, the local community can now enjoy clean drinking water. Originally, the Congolese NIR partner had planned to adopt a confrontational advocacy approach to the identified problem, which would have 'named and shamed' the responsible parties, but instead adopted a more collaborative approach, which had previously been tested and successfully used by other NIR partners. Through this experience, the Congolese NIR partner realised that a collaborative approach can at times be more effective, especially in post-war settings, where confrontations might turn violent.

Tiri has facilitated South-South cooperation by inviting NIR partners to share experiences and best practices, such as the above-mentioned example, and gain new knowledge at workshops, university courses, needs-based trainings and field exchange trips. Tiri provides support to tailor these learning events to fit the needs of NIR partners and captures experiences and best practices.

Tiri encourages NIR partners to lead and coordinate South-South needs-based training and workshops. For example, in March 2010 the Liberian NIR partner invited peers from Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Sierra Leone and Timor Leste to a consensuses-building workshop, where experiences and best practices on community-driven accountability were shared. Tiri covered the costs of the workshop, while the Liberian NIR partner led the overall organisation and facilitation. A field trip to Bong County enabled NIR partners to test their approaches and to better understand how to identify communities' needs. This workshop emphasised South-South cooperation and knowledge transfer through grounded, participatory action learning.

Tiri also invites NIR partners every year to participate in a university course on strategic corruption control and integrity reform at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. This year, NIR partners are participating in a policy workshop that addresses the specific challenges of building stable, accountable post-war states. Tiri will capture the best practices, advocacy asks and policy recommendations, which can be brought to the attention of relevant international actors and policy makers.

All the information on the project activities and results will be available to all stakeholders once the NIR website is launched this summer.

Lessons learned

NIR partners have benefited from each other through South-South learning - through the transfer of knowledge, skills, exchange of experiences and best practices. Tiri has found that the experience of NIR provides a more efficient solution than solely North-South cooperation, in terms of cost effectiveness, sustainability and context adaptability. This network is the first of its kind, and its valued added is the expertise built and the reform stimulated in areas where integrity challenges are specific to post-war countries.

While the civil society environment in post-war countries is diverse and complex, the willingness and motivation of committed people and change-makers is key to achieve integrity reform. Civil society is often weak in post-war settings, but NIR has revealed that beneficial South-South partnerships are possible if enough time and effort is devoted to local capacity building. The sustainability of the network has been ensured by a commitment from Tiri and NIR partners to building the capacities of CSOs and communities in the long-term. One of the benefits of South-South learning can be illustrated with the example of a Tiri-facilitated exchange trip whereby the Afghan NIR partner learnt about monitoring committees from the Timorese NIR partner. Originally, it was only the Timorese NIR partner which had established a monitoring committee at the district level in which local community members, local leaders, contractors and government officials meet regularly to discuss monitoring findings and implement practical solutions to the problems identified. During the exchange trip, the Afghan NIR partner found this committee to be an excellent forum for constructive collaboration between the local government and their communities. Following the exchange, the Afghan partner adapted and replicated this social accountability approach in Afghanistan, which has resulted in greater collaboration with donor organisations as well as local government. CSOs' opportunity for reflective South-South peer learning during exchange trips are rare, yet necessary, since those from post-war countries of the South often face very similar challenges - in contrast to their Northern counterparts – and thus have highly relevant know-how and practical solutions to share.

In the past, several of the NIR partners relied on external consultants and the staff of international agencies to provide them with international knowledge transfer. Increasingly, however, the effectiveness of sending Western experts to provide technical assistance based on best practices from their own countries is being questioned. Tiri instead strives to facilitate the transfer of contextually relevant lessons and experience between post-war countries of the South for NIR partners to learn together as peers.

The future challenge for Tiri is how to most effectively connect, coordinate, and capture the applied knowledge and experiences, and how to upscale local community-driven accountability initiatives. Therefore, NIR will undergo extensive stocktaking in 2011, so that consistent and effective research and advocacy objectives can be established to support stable and effective reconstruction processes in post-war countries.

Complementarity with North-South cooperation

North-South cooperation can prove in some respects to be as beneficial as South-South cooperation. For example, Tiri co-supports NIR partners with CAFOD, Revenue Watch Institute and PeaceDirect, which not only opens up the network to financial resources, but also opportunities for a wide range of networking and capacity building possibilities.
Additionally, Tiri serves as a valuable link for the network to

i) International campaigns, such as Publish What You Fund's global campaign for aid transparency,
ii) CIVICUS on CSO development effectiveness
iii) Donor agencies engaged in anti-corruption and integrity
iv) The OECD anti-corruption task team

Tiri is in a good position to capture needs and advocacy asks of NIR partners and bring them to an international level. For example, based on the demand of NIR partners and communities in post-war countries, Tiri began the global campaign for aid transparency called 'Publish What You Fund', which encourages governments to endorse the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

How to share

Tiri aims to share experience, knowledge and innovative ideas throughout the network, not only through workshops, courses and exchange trips, but also via a dynamic online information hub. Tiri has devoted a site for NIR partners and friends, which is linked to social media such as Facebook , Youtube, LinkedIn and Picasa. This provides an open space for NIR partners to share their tools, solutions and ideas to other relevant stakeholders and with each other.

NIR advocacy efforts combined with the growing interest in NIR publications have begun to change the field of governance in post-war reconstruction. Building on NIR's paper for the OECD DAC 'Integrity in State Building', NIR publications and NIR partners such as the Afghan partner featured in the World Development Report 2011 on conflict and fragility and CIVICUS' Civil Society Organisations in Situations of Conflict report.

As a result of NIR policy discussions with bilateral donors such as DFID, the Fragile States Integrity Initiative (FSII) analysing the destabilising risks of corruption is moving forward with Tiri leading the Advisory Committee and NIR partners driving the research and advocacy in Liberia and Nepal. The FSII report is due in June for wide dissemination at key anti-corruption, fragile states and aid effectiveness meetings. NIR is influencing the construction sector (private sector, government and multilateral institutions), through participation in the International Secretariat of the Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) Initiative. NIR has informed the rollout of CoST from a pilot in seven countries to a global initiative.

Finally, Tiri is exploring ways to support and strengthen the network and deepen its impact in the context of increasing pressure to demonstrate value for money and deliver easily measurable results. Tiri is therefore developing measures to capture and report the impact of NIR, so that key lessons learnt and practices can be highlighted to inform and influence post-war reconstruction policy and practice.

Tiri has therefore become engaged in the Big Push Forward, which is an initiative led by the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University. This initiative will offer Tiri the possibility of finding effective methodologies to measure the impact of community-driven accountability in post-war reconstruction. Finally, this will become a collective research and action initiative, which can create more space for development initiatives that lead to social transformation that are however not necessarily the most easy to measure.

Duration

01.12.2010 – 01.12.2013

Budget

- Financial resources: 1,000,000 NOK
- In-kind resources.
- Other contributions.
- Total: 1,000,000 NOK

Name of Primary Contact Person/s

Claire Schouten

Title of Primary Contact Person/s

Associate Programme Director

City and country

London, United Kingdom

Contact Email/s

Claire.shouten@tiri.org

Telephone/s

+447946936301

Key players

Claire Schouten