Panos, OSISA partner to amplify citizens voices for accountability in the COVID-19 response
Lusaka, 02 November 2020: Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is rolling out a new project which seeks to strengthen citizens’ demand for accountability and transparency in the implementation of the COVID-19 response in Zambia.
The Amplifying citizens’ voices for accountability in the COVID-19 response in Zambia project is funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), and is being implemented in all ten provinces of Zambia. The 8-months project is using different tools and approaches to amplify voices of poor and marginalised citizens, building their agency to demand for accountability and transparency in the implementation of measures meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project has three objectives, as follows:
- To build citizens’ capacity and agency to demand for accountability and transparency in the COVID-19 response;
- To facilitate citizens’ engagement with different stakeholders, including decision makers, involved in the COVID-19 response;
- To influence responsive actions to address gaps in the COVID-19 response.
The project is being implemented at a time the COVID-19 is taking a toll on all sectors of Zambia’s economy. The project is premised on the fact that for Zambia COVID-19 has become a governance and accountability pandemic. Measures to contain the virus have been characterised by disrespect for and gross violation of citizens’ rights, lack of accountability and transparency in management and use of COVID-19 resources (including donations from international bodies and the private sector), restrictions on media and civil society actors criticising gaps in the government’s COVID-19 response. Citizens are bearing the brunt of this lack of accountability, corruption and compromised information flow, evidenced by increased community transmission and “brought in dead” COVID-19 cases.
The project is in this regard facilitating citizens’ engagement with government agencies and various stakeholders involved in the implementation of the national COVID-19 response strategy, ensuring COVID-19 resources are not abused for political expediency, and that no-one is left behind in the response to the pandemic. Panos is implementing the project in partnership with 14 radio stations, strategically selected to cover significant portions of the country’s 10 provinces. The partner radio stations will air interactive and prerecorded radio programmes informed by citizens’ experiences and concerns. The project will also roll out an online platform for accountability, the www.socaccplatform.org, which will serve as an information repository and also as a whistleblowing mechanism to enable citizens to raise issues relating to the COVID-19 response. At the community level, the project is working with radio listening clubs and children’s rights clubs to facilitate community led discussions to influence responses to issues raised by citizens.
The project will work with various civil society organisations, government departments, the media and other stakeholders to facilitate structured and timely flow of information that will enable timely, relevant and effective responses.
Nervious Siantombo, Programmes Manager