Back in March, Christopher and I had the opportunity to help facilitate an internal Transparency International meeting in Berlin. As we’ve mentioned, TI’s making a big effort to engage more citizens with its work. One way that it’s doing so is with Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs).
ALACs encourage citizens to share first-hand experiences with corruption in exchange for legal advice or strategic advocacy that is conducted with their reports. When ALACs get new clients they conduct interviews to decide if the corruption actually happened. Then they map available legal remedies and work with clients to use these remedies. This may mean contacting the right institution or consulting with legal experts to see if litigation is an option. They also build and implement advocacy strategies with these cases of corruption. For example, TI’s ALAC in Palestine received a call from an official within the Ministry of Transport who was sick of public cars getting used for private purposes. They worked with him to build a campaign around the issue, and got citizens to start monitoring government cars for misuse.
ALACs can be terrific resources – but they only work if people know they exist. To remedy this, one chapter – TI Macedonia – created a Ushahidi instance and Facebook presence aimed at getting more young people to report experiences with corruption. Its ALAC staffers address each of these new reports by forwarding them to the appropriate public sector institution or media outlet. ALAC staffers also update clients on the status of their case as it evolves by leaving comments on reports that were received online.
Many chapters within the TI network would like to follow Macedonia’s example and use new technologies to engage more people with their ALACs. Our role in Berlin was to better understand the challenges that these chapters face as they try to do so, the successes that some have had and how we, as an external organization, can connect them to resources that will make it easier to engage more people using technology.
It’s clear that the best resource for chapters is other chapters. That’s why we’re happy to be building a toolkit that aims to make it easier for chapters to learn about and adapt the work of their peers.
The toolkit will be a living resource, primarily targeting ALAC staffers within national TI chapters, but also designed to be useful to transparency advocates generally.
The bare bones of this toolkit – checklists for developing strategies, understanding stakeholders and audiences, and using technologies for people engagement – is still in draft form, but we’re sharing it here. In the coming days we’ll be validating this with friends of the project and adding case studies to make it easier for chapters to know which other chapters they can contact.
Thanks to all the TI chapters who have made themselves available to provide feedback on this work and share their stories, and a big welcome to anyone who wants to get involved in this project in any way.