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Working with the grain and swimming against the tide

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Written by David Booth

Research into the governance of public goods provision in Africa suggests that, on their own, bottom–up pressures from voters and service users are only a weak factor in improving performance. It confirms the importance of working with politicians and service providers as well as clients. However, getting ‘uptake’ of these findings into the practice of development agencies is difficult. In the dissemination of previous studies, certain propositions about the power of information and community monitoring have been heavily over-sold because they satisfy practitioners’ hunger for simple, upbeat messages. Incentives, ideologies and vested interests inhibit the adoption of more complex
findings.

David Booth