How can democratic governance programming promote and protect the right to information? What are the appropriate indicators to assess right to information interventions? This Guide by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focuses on the monitoring and evaluation of programmes, with an emphasis on gender and pro-poor indicators. It outlines four broad areas of right to information that must be considered for a thorough evaluation; the legal regime, government legislation, and the use of information by both the general public and by marginalised groups.
Country offices should use baselines, indicators and estimated expenditure against outcomes to evaluate a country right to information programme. When articulating programme outcomes, they should ensure that these are separated into key issues and that the outcome statement is understandable and not excessively broad. When selecting outcome indicators it is important to recognise that they are specific to the national context. They must reflect the UNDPs six drivers of development effectiveness: developing national capacities; enhancing national ownership; nurturing an enabling policy environment; seeking South-South solutions; promoting gender equity and; forging partnerships for results.
The right to information is a product of both institutions and culture. Developing indicators that accurately reflect the degree of transparency in any society requires an accurate understanding of local circumstances:
- All right to information programming should be informed by an assessment of the state of the right to information in the relevant country. This should focus on the legal regime, implementation of legislation by government and the use of right to information by the general public, civil society and marginalised groups.
- Indicators should be gender sensitive by involving women at the design, planning, implementation and monitoring phases of development programmes.
- Rights based on an assumed formal equality may not ensure that access to information is meaningful for women. Gender is often shaped by the “public/private divide”. In such circumstances, ways have to be found to ensure that the right kind of information reaches women in an appropriate manner.
- Indicators should also focus on how information is provided to the poor. Communication capacity is crucial to alleviating poverty. There have been some innovative approaches from NGOs in the developing world to ensuring the poor have access to relevant information.
Right to information programmes should focus on four key outcomes, as set out below. For each of these outcomes, the guide proposes a set of questions to arrive at potential indicators. A framework outlining baseline information, information sources, outputs and example outcome indicators is also set out.
- The legal regime: An effective, enabling legal and policy environment for right to information, based on best practice standards and developed in a participatory manner, exists and is firmly established.
- Implementation of legislation by government: Functioning systems are in place, implemented and supported by the bureaucracy, which enable citizen access to government held information.
- Use by the general public and civil society: Active involvement by civil-society to gain access to government held information, in raising citizen awareness on legislation and in generating demand for government held information.
- Use by marginalised groups: Implementation of the right to information systems operates to enable women, those living in poverty and other marginalised groups to access information.