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ICTs Help Citizens Voice Concerns over Water – Or Do They?

IDS Bulletin

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) are widely seen as a new avenue for citizens to hold service providers and government to account. But if citizens live in rural Africa, Asia or Latin America, are they able and willing to report on service delivery failures? And are service providers or government officials willing to listen and respond? We explore these questions using an analysis of recent ICT reporting initiatives to improve rural water sustainability. The findings demonstrate that models where a service provider is committed to responsiveness and designs an in-house fault-reporting and maintenance system show greater responsiveness and accountability to users than crowdsourcing models where users are encouraged to report faults. This raises the question of whether ICT is transformative, or whether service improvement simply hinges on making service provision designs more accountable.