Learning from using tech at the intersection of child protection and good governance.

CCR - works to end violence against children.

CCR is a social enterprise that offers “boutique child protection solutions” that engage with child protection through the lens of good governance and human development.  
We are essentially about human development. What our theory of change says is that if we want more people to protect children, we need to support people to evolve their moral development from a concern with “me” to a concern with “we”. 

Everything CCR does starts with research into people’s world-views, and how they grapple with the dilemmas that arise when trying to do the right thing in a changing country. After explaining their behavior we theorize how to influence it with our interventions. Using an AGILE approach we test our thought experiment; reflecting along the way; and iterating and improving the design. Every year we test our impact and adapt the assumptions in our theories. 

Councillor Connect

Is a new text-based service that we are prototyping with the support of Making All Voices Count. Using a combination of the www.textit and Filemaker platforms we are developing a service that will enable citizens to communicate directly with their city councilors; reporting problems, making suggestions, or giving feedback. The expectation is that the Councillor will respond to the message sender, and a few days later the sender is then asked by CCR to rate the Councillor’s response. This is then mapped on a performance scorecard of the councilors that is in the public domain. 

Councillors appreciate the potential of the service because it helps them demonstrate servant leadership, to be better connected to their constituencies; and to make plans based on evidence of citizen’s needs. 

As we prototype we learn.

In the past few months we have learnt four new things about how to facilitate social change in Tanzania. 

Go with the energy, but do not ignore the blockers.

In 2015 CCR theorized that it makes sense to focus our efforts on people who already posses the Ujasiri mind-set that primes them to take action when they see a child suffering. This came out of a history of being blocked by public servants and elected officials whose interest was to maintain business as usual; and our research that indicated that we could add more value to people who had already evolved to have a moral concern for others. In terms of our advocacy work we used Ujasiri as the primary criteria for targeting potential change makers. However, we are starting to realize that we need a more detailed understanding of the motivations, influence and power of individuals within the Arusha City Council, and that we cannot ignore those who say, “it’s none of my business.” The research that we are currently conducting at a ward level is an effort to better understand the relational dynamics prior to bringing citizens, councillors and public servants together in a process of deliberative dialogue. 

Be of service.

CCR has always struggled to convey to the Arusha City Council the value added that we bring. The addition of Councillor Connect to our portfolio of services seems to have completely changed that dynamic. The tech is something tangible that has the potential to solve practical challenges that the councillors face, and as a result they are excited about what we bring to the table in a way that is completely new.

The key moving forward will be how to handle the issue that Councillor Connect actually gives councillors more work; and thus how can CCR be of service in helping them to act on citizens’ concerns. 

Intermediaries are critical, but their role should be clearly articulated.

CCR is not only an intermediary in terms of offering a technology that connects citizens and councillors; but also in terms of providing on-going support to these groups to deliberate together to understand their situation and to provide tools, mentorship, and external capacities that help them change their situation. It is important from public relations and from an organizational identity standpoint that CCR does not equate its “intermediary” role as one where it makes itself invisible in the background.

We have already noticed in the first sign-up surveys that people are more comfortable if the Councillor Connect service is recognized as a CCR product that is in service to the city, but not owned by the Council. As we move forward with the deliberative dialogue process we need to be intentional about negotiating on a ward-by-ward basis what we bring to the relationship and the limits of our involvement.

Equip people make sense of their situation.

One of the limitations of qualitative research and much facilitation is that people are given a space to share their problems, but not to make sense of their condition. This is a descriptive form of consultation that does not enable people to explain their reality. As a result, people typically externalize responsibility and agency.

CCR is different in that our research and facilitation enables people to explain and re-frame their world-views; helping them to take up other perspectives. This is an approach that taps into empathy and in doing so re-frames situations, freeing them up for new forms of action to emerge. 

How are our assumptions playing out?

Councillors as the only entry-point are insufficient.

CCR had originally assumed that we could focus on the Councillors, prove that the Councillor Connect service was of value to them, and then use that to leverage the interest of public servants in a service that would help police and social welfare officers to better act on cases of child abuse.

The trajectory of change is not quite so simple; because whilst public servants are not the direct beneficiaries of the current Councillor Connect service it is evident that they cannot be side-lined until proof of concept has been achieved.  CCR needs to work in parallel with both groups, and if can’t directly provide the tech to public servants at the very least CCR needs to understand their worldview and build positive relationships with them. 

Tech in isolation cannot evolve people’s moral development.

CCR is essentially about human development. Our theory of change contends that if we want more people to protect children it is necessary to evolve people's moral development from a concern with “me” to a concern with “we”. Everything that we do is founded on the intent to move people up the ladder of moral development.

Moral development happens in relationship, and whilst the tech can connect citizens and councillors and seed a relationship, we still need the wider deliberative dialogue, and mentoring to create and sustain the human connection from which moral evolution occurs.

Children are not just passive recipients of others changed behaviour.

CCR has always positioned children as beneficiaries of adults’ changed behaviours, rather than as self-advocates. This was because Dr McAlpine came out of a professional background of service provision to street children and was personally burnt out by that experience; but also because of a fear that in creating opportunities for children to disclose abuse in an environment where there was no services for redress and therapy would create ethical dilemmas that we would be unable to resolve. CCR has never thought of children as passive; but has always programmed around adults taking up their accountabilities towards children; rather than supporting children to advocate for themselves.

Recent work on child rights governance for Save the Children and training in advocacy by Hope for Homes for Children has shifted our thinking.

Accountable governance requires those individuals who have entitlements to possess the confidence, skills and networks to advocate for themselves. As such next month we are going to test a more active and inclusive targeting of children, trying to get representatives of the children’s council to participate in the deliberative dialogue process. In doing so we hope to link children’s participation into the process of local government planning; and to equip a number of individual children to become exemplars of self-advocacy within their communities. 

Next week we will be blogging on what we have learnt with regards to mobilizing the Arusha city council to invest in child protection services and on some dilemmas that arise for a trainee social worker exposed to practice in Tanzania for the first time.