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Power Tool: Accessing 'public' information (PLA 53)

Sonja Vermeulen

Journal article

The purpose of this tool is to access information held by public agencies – to improve people’s lives. In India, NGOs and activists have used the approach to help poor people by: • Collecting information on public works spending; government contracts; casual workers’ wages; and food staples supplied to the poor. • Using the information to improve governance through: • Participatory decision-making – people are involved in making decisions that affect them. • Transparency – people know what officials are doing. • Accountability – people can hold officials responsible for their actions. The tool can be used in any situation where lack of information is a major constraint in achieving good governance. NGOs, activists, resident associations and community leaders working with poor and marginalised people will find it useful. Guest-editor: Sonja Vermeulen. This special issue of PLA comes from the Power Tools initiative which aimed to develop, test and circulate existing and new tools to bridge key gaps in policy processes and content. These policy tools – tips, tactics and approaches – provide practical help to people working to improve the policies and institutions that govern access to and use of natural resources. Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

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