Contributor: Rory Liedeman
March 2017 was an extraordinary month for SLF’s Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) research team, for two main reasons. Firstly, from 5 March to 10 March, Farida Ryklief, Soeraya Davids, Sinazo Peters, Joanna Wheeler and Rory Liedeman attended a week-long participatory workshop, as part of a larger South African delegation travelling to Italy. The gathering was hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation at the Bellagio Centre and brought together various stakeholders (including academics, government/decision-making officials, researchers, citizen and community-based organisations) from around the world to participate in an exclusive global event that aimed to explore the theme of how to build inclusive and resilient cities. It provided our group with an important opportunity to share the PMA experiences, methods, achievements and future plans with people beyond our South African borders, while allowing for a number of new connections and friendships to be made in the process. Included in the South African delegation were Mr Jonathan Tim (Chief Director at the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation) and Professor Laurence Piper (University of Western Cape – Political Studies).
After returning from Italy, the team dove straight into hosting an international workshop of their own (13 to 17 March). This was the first of two planned International Collective Workshops to be held by partner organisations, as part of the new British Academy work recently awarded. SLF represents the South African partner and the new funding allows for the important PMA work that the Delft Safety Group (DSG) helped to achieve in 2016, to continue for another year. The workshop brought together partner organisations from South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, India, Uganda and the UK, all working on citizen-led accountability. The process was also supported and co-coordinated with the help of the Participate initiative at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex (UK). The meeting provided an important opportunity for all project partners to participate in both the learning of a new participatory research method, but also in an important project peer review and learning process. The workshop aimed to unpack and discuss key issues such as ‘the role of public communication in community safety’ and culminated in a roundtable dialogue discussion that brought together members from partner countries, duty bearers such as members of the South Africa government/local councillors/key decision makers, academics and other civil society stakeholders, each of whom have committed to fostering on-going dialogue between highly marginalised groups such as the Delft Safety Group. The timing of the Cape Town workshop was ideal, as it coincided with a period in South Africa when key actions were being taken to implement laws, in accordance with the vision and objectives of the new White Paper on Safety and Security.