Mercy Corps: Why We’re Working With Govts, Informal Governance Institutions

Mercy Corps, a global team of humanitarians, working together on the front lines of today’s biggest crises to create a future of possibility, where everyone can prosper has explained why it’s working with governments and informal governance institutions.

According to the group, it is working with them on all levels in a bid to better serve their constituents and foster growth in their communities.

‘’Good governance is critical to successful development outcomes’’, Mercy Corps says, pointing out that weak governance is one of the biggest roadblocks to effective, lasting development.

‘’It compounds every other issue we’re working to address, like climate change, poverty, lack of education, food security and healthcare’’, the group said on its website.

According to it, democracy and governance deficits — particularly weak state capacity, accountability, and legitimacy; exclusion or marginalisation of population groups; and weak civic engagement — are drivers of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV).

‘’Democracy and governance assistance to address these drivers, and foreign policies that promote democratic, inclusive and responsive institutions, increase state capacity and accountability and build good governance.

‘’These vital investments can help resolve the democracy and governance gaps and grievances that drive chronic fragility. Building state accountability, effectiveness, and legitimacy, alongside citizen engagement and inclusion, must, therefore, be part of any pathway from fragility to development.’’

Continuing, Mercy Corps says traditional approaches to democracy and governance programming face unique challenges in FCV settings. Volatile and unpredictable contexts, difficulty identifying actors to work with, and challenges in defining and measuring success mean that approaches used in non-fragile settings may not have the same impact in FCV contexts.

The group argues that the field of democracy and governance interventions must, therefore, adapt to apply more usefully to fragile contexts, and surfaces examples of promising innovations.

From June to October 2019, eight organisations who work on democracy and governance in fragile places convened to identify innovative practices and supportive policy changes.

‘’Collectively, we work in 129 countries globally and in 54 of the 58 countries on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) list of FCV contexts.

‘’This convening intentionally brought together ‘traditional’ democracy and governance organizations who have historically focused on elections, institutional strengthening, political parties, and civil society with development and humanitarian organisations who have approached governance work through community mobilisation, peacebuilding, and multi-sectoral programming.

‘’This presents our findings, along with recommendations for bilateral donors, multilateral institutions, and practitioners.

‘’Progress on democracy and governance in the world’s most challenging environments will require donors and practitioners to pair smart investments in democracy and governance programming with a foreign policy that disrupts the development-diplomacy disconnect and creates an enabling environment for stabilisation and innovation. 

‘’In the places we work, institutions often lack the incentives and ability to provide communities with the resources, services and tools they need to live the prosperous lives they deserve. Citizens lack access to basic information about their rights and responsibilities, leading to distrust of decision-making processes, corruption and conflict.

‘’Good governance means investing in community leaders, ensuring that they serve their constituents well. It means harnessing the collective abilities of these communities and increasing citizen participation in the decisions that affect their lives.

‘’It means protecting and expanding spaces for dialogue and trust-building opportunities across divides.

‘’Partnering with governments and informal governance institutions is integral to building a better tomorrow. When we work together, we empower and sustain development efforts to improve the lives of community members’’, Mercy Corps says.


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