The design of any citizen feedback initiative needs to be made in the context of constraints and opportunities, power relations, incentives and institutional structure of a state or a society. In middle and low-income countries, public officials face four key reform challenges, i.e. enhancing legitimacy, improving the efficiency of service delivery, strengthening accountability and serving the public interest. Citizen engagement is not a magical process that can automatically resolve any public service delivery issues but if effectively deployed, it can help public officials improve the accessibility and quality of services.
Most of the developing countries such as Pakistan are facing different obstacles to carry out and improve their governance in a more professional and reliable way. The following theoretical framework can serve as the first step to find and uncover key factors in the practical implementation process.
|Socioeconomic, Political and Technical|
|Willingness||Is there a political will by the government to implement reform?|
|Trustworthiness||What is the level of trust between citizens and government?|
|Fairness||Do citizens have the opportunity to participate in government decision-making processes in a fair and representative manner?|
|Fitness||Do citizens have a minimum level of digital literacy and information capabilities to participate in decision-making processes in a meaningful way?|
|Inventiveness||What are the incentives for the citizens to engage?|
|Environment||How inclusive is the environment for introducing new feedback mechanisms? For example, Technology literacy, information capabilities and equity of access: evidence of discriminatory barriers (formal and informal) that may prevent some demographics from participating.|
|Steadiness||Is CFMP financially and socially suitable in the long-term?|
|Risks and Opportunity costs of engagement||Do benefits exceed costs?|
|Strengthen and sustain||Is the initiative sustainable? How do we measure sustainability? What key factors affect it?|
Better governance is a pre-requisite for, and perhaps an outcome of, all efforts towards sustainability. Citizen Feedback initiatives have the potential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan with their primary contribution to Goal 16, which is to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Goal 16 recognizes the centrality of effective, responsive and inclusive institutions to meeting societies’ aspirations for high-quality public services that are accessible to all. With this focus and emphasis, SDG16 is a foundational condition for several other SDGs to be achieved and can be a key enabler for many others.
Hence, such initiatives are the need of the hour to drive pathways to a more sustainable future for all four provinces of Pakistan.