HOW COULD WE END WITH CLIENTELISM AT STATE SERVICES?

CIUDADANO CONTIGO

Ciudadano Contigo makes it easier for marginalized communities to access the programs designed to help them by consolidating and sharing information about government services. The website allows citizens to find information about these services in two ways. They can filter programs by selecting the type of support they need (e.g. health services, employment and entrepreneurship, or gender equality) or by user group profiles the program hopes to target (e.g. people with disabilities, people seeking employment, or pregnant women and mothers).

The winning website, Ciudadano Contigo, provides first-ever online access to local government welfare programs and eligibility information for Mexican citizens.

Visit Site: ciudadanocontigo.org
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PROBLEM

What happens when citizens embedded in clientelistic culture are given new ways of accessing government services? Will citizens decide to exit a clientelistic system of exchange in favor of a programmatic alternative?

HOW WE DO IT

The website and the project more broadly aims to reduce the dependence of vulnerable citizens on non-state political actors for information. The website is especially designed to accommodate users with lower technology literacy and was tested in a field experiment.

WHO IT´S FOR

Citizens can filter programs by selecting the type of support they need (e.g. health services, employment and entrepreneurship, or gender equality) or by user group profiles the program hopes to target

OBJECTIVE

Ciudadano Contigo makes it easier for marginalized communities to access the programs designed to help them by consolidating and sharing information about government services.

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CIVIC TECH TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO PUBLIC GOODS AND SERVICES

In poor and marginalized communities around the developing world, many citizens must engage with informal, partisan brokers if they want to access ostensibly universal government services and social programs. These brokers frequently regulate the flow of government goods in their communities and provide access in exchange for costly political support. A large percentage of local budgets in Mexico is destined to countless highly discretionary social and rural assistance programs with broad and mostly flexible eligibility criteria.

I helped MIT GOV/LAB, graduate student Tesalia Rizzo, in collaboration with Participando por México to test these claims through a field experiment where we randomly introduce a new programmatic ‘broker’ in 75 selected villages in the Mexican state of Yucatan. In each selected locality, an individual from the community was recruited and trained to provide public information and assistance in official application procedures to a wide range of local level government programs, including scholarship programs, poverty relief and small productive subsidies for rural areas, trough an accessible plataform. We call this programmatic broker a "gestor ciudadano".

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HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN

Each icon represent a population segment and were designed to make communication and identification easily to users and “gestores”. The pictograms helped us to access and explain the programs to non Spanish speaking communities.

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"PERSONA" PROFILE

The programs were segmented according to user characteristics and social programs. This help our “gestores ciudadanos” to access easily to the programs when they need to present them to the communities.