Who can benefit from this study?
Civic Tech initiatives
Organisation responsible for case study:
MobiSAM – Social Accountability Management tool
Main Project Location: Makhanda
Project country/countries: South Africa
Project dates: –
Last updated: 23 Mar 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
MobiSAM (Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring) began as an idea between friends discussing their water problems at the height of Grahamstown’s water outages. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a more effective way in which Makana could update its citizens on scheduled and unscheduled outages and wouldn’t it be even greater if there was a way resident could effectively report problems directly to Makana?
Taking cues from these initial discussions among concerned and connected citizens, MobiSAM was officially formed as a way of improving Makana Municipality’s communication and responsiveness around Grahamstown’s water services through the use of mobile phones.
The application aimed to provide an avenue to report water related problems directly to the municipality for users registered with the application in addition to receiving updates directly from the Municipality. The MobiSAM application also included a mobile polling application that allowed individuals to voice their opinion, rank their most pressing needs as well as the quality of current service delivery in their neighbourhood.
Between 2011 and 2014, MobiSAM managed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Makana, register a number of users as well collate the intelligence gathered from residents by way of mobile polls.
MobiSAM aims to support citizen engagement and government responsiveness, through providing platforms (not only technology related) that citizens can use to engage in social accountability practices. MobiSAM plays a strategic role, as it brings together individual and collective action with real time access to mechanisms to report issues to all key stakeholders.
The platform also leverages SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook and intermediaries to receive and record citizens’ report
The challenge or problem
Lack of accountability and transparency on the part of the municipality of to delivery services to citizens.
The solution that was implemented
The MobiSAM technology incorporates both a reporting interface for citizens (via a mobile application (feature phone or smart phone), website, and SMS), and also a Ticketing function (mainly used by the municipality to address internal communication challenges) used for:
Direct citizen reporting (water, sanitation, roads, electricity, stray animals, and finance related)
Collating and visualizing reported problems through heat maps and graphs per ward area.
Monitoring reports by all registered users (citizens, civil society, media, municipalities) to facilitate evidence based engagement
Communication enabling the municipality to send SMSs to update citizens on the progress of their reports, provide information regarding planned/unplanned outages, and push out service delivery polls to assess the situation in different wards or citizen satisfaction in addressing an issue.
Which actors, resources, conditions, tools, etc. were required?
Mobile software and access to the internet are critical
Support from Makana municipality
Technical or IT knowledge to develop mobile application
What results were achieved?
Lessons and recommendations
It is not only about the technology but about how the challenges are framed in order to lobby with civil society
It is critical to find ways to navigate the various government departments and their levels of responsiveness
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