Jamaican citizens living or working in the South East St Andrew constituency now have the right to ‘Tell Your MP’, Julian Robinson, how to spend his Constituency Development Funds (CDF) via the app on Google Play and website at tellyourmp.com.jm. This pilot project could provide a model for civic participation, strengthening democracy and transparency, across all constituencies in Jamaica.
In Phase One (October 25 – November 21) the project allows citizens to suggest ideas for their MP to implement using available funds of J$1million. In Phase Two (January 3 – January 23) they can vote on which ideas should become projects. Finally in Phase Three (launching January 24) they can monitor the implementation of these projects. An extra Youth Innovation component offers youth aged 16-30 financial and technical assistance to build technology solutions for community problems.
Priority will be given to ideas that promote:
- Youth Employment
- Community Peace Building and Crime Reduction
- Digital Skills/Literacy
Tell Your MP is a collaboration between the constituency office of South East St. Andrew; the Mona School of Business and Management through the Caribbean Open Institute, a regional coalition supporting open development approaches to inclusion, participation and innovation; and the Kingston-based SlashRoots Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to improve how governments in the region interacts with citizens in this digital age.
The pilot project builds on MSBM’s earlier research on participatory budgeting, which led to the initial development of the app. According to Dr. Maurice McNaughton, “Technology can lower barriers to civic participation, and amplify the reach and voice of ordinary citizens in public governance. We are particularly interested in experimenting with the use of digital mechanisms that can increase the engagement and participation of young people in decision-making and resource-allocation in their communities.”
SlashRoots has spent several months consulting with community stakeholders to gain their feedback about how best to conduct the process and used that to further develop the website and app to facilitate citizens participating in each of the three phases.
“It’s been fascinating to meet with community groups, to learn from them about how our democracy is functioning in real life, and then try and harness this to build an online platform that can help scale up their efforts. It’s vital always in our way of working that we find ways of making technology accessible to people, in ways that can boost their lives—and bridge the gap between either the digital divide or low civic participation,” said SlashRoots Senior Service Designer Denique Ferguson.
How to participate
For more information, and to participate in Phase One by submitting ideas, citizens living or working in South East St Andrew can visit tellyourmp.com.jm, or download the ‘Tell Your MP’ app from Google Play.
About SlashRoots Foundation:
SlashRoots is a social impact organisation that uses the principles and practices of the digital age to create a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable Caribbean society. With the use of technology we help governments, NGOs and civil societies to improve the design and delivery of social services and development programmes.
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