Governance and Democratization

Since the last few decades, terms like community governance, community participation and democratic decentralization have become buzz words of development. Within the gamut of issues that can be explored in this sector, GRAAM’s current interests lie in experimenting and exploring the relationships between governance structures, citizen participation and development outcomes. Although GRAAM believes in principle that decentralization and community involvement in governance should be fostered, deeper understanding is essential for practical realization of these ideals. Assessment of the institutional frameworks, levels of community participation and inclusiveness, measures of social accountability and quality of services and development outcomes and impacts in such initiatives serve as starting points in our endeavor.

Major Portfolio activities

Action Research/Interventions

  1. Action research in exploring the right combination of community participation structures and people friendly technology to guarantee good governance, social accountability of local public institutions (rural and urban local bodies, health institutions, PDS etc), improved quality of service and development outcomes.
  2. Action research on capacity building of women and tribal elected representatives to participate effectively in political institutions, through a combination of human and social capital interventions, social experiments and community advocacy.

Research and Advocacy

1. Mapping decentralized governance outcomes in different social sectors and service categories: provision of infrastructure and services, social security and welfare, public distribution, progress of marginalized groups, sanitation, health and education and other services delivered through decentralized mechanisms.

2. Mapping community involvement initiatives in these sectors

  • Defining community involvement as expected and realized in such initiatives.
  • Documenting quality of participation among different categories of communities with a focus on vulnerable and marginal groups
  • Documenting the specific roles, responsibilities and powers delegated and realized by communities
  • Mapping the structure of community involvement and their legal sanctity

3. Status and impact of hindering factors like elite capture, bureaucratic lethargy, corruption, unaccountability etc on development outcomes

4. Perception on decentralization among the stakeholders (elected representatives, communities, bureaucrats, media and non-governmental organizations) and their impacts on accountability and outcomes.

5. Analyzing decision making processes, relative priorities of grassroots bureaucrats and community representatives.

6. Evaluations and budgetary analysis of different schemes and programs.

Major advocacy messages

As mentioned earlier, the key area of focus in the portfolio is: relationship between governance structure, community participation and development outcomes. Advocacy in the governance and democratization portfolio focusses on major stakeholders: policy makers, bureaucrats, elected representatives and community. Within the realm of policy, the broad advocacy messages are:

  1. designing administrative structures and role matrices of different stakeholders, that stabilize and strengthen the long term involvement of communities in determining their own development objectives and outcomes
  2. creating practical and efficient monitoring systems that promote inclusiveness, transparency and social accountability
  3. Promotion of stakeholder friendly technology for improving operational effectiveness and accountability
  4. Identification of small spaces for improvement, (niche areas in bureaucratic and administrative streamlining, structural fine-tuning, image building and ownership etc), together with larger policy changes related to fiscal and functional aspects of devolution.