Mushaaraknaa
Describe the problem that you want to address. How does this problem effect people in their daily lives?
One of the challenges in Yemen is people’s sense of exclusion from access to services, rights and opportunities, which lead to continued conflict and political instability. These issues manifested in the people’s lives as follows.
 
Inadequate and discriminatory economic and social services
Defining the Challenge, Making the Change (2014) reported a weakness of the level of public service provision in Yemen: Public electricity covers only 42% of the population (even which is often interrupted), security, judiciary and local authority services are provided only about 35.2%, public water supplies and sanitation services cover only about 26% and 16% of the population respectively. Conflict Assessment in Yemen (2013) observed that “basic services are seen as being closely related to governance and notion of political exclusion” and until the government starts providing key services, Yemenis would not trust the government.
 
Government effectiveness and transparency
As of February 2015, the 2015 government budget has not been approved due to the political turmoil. According to Millennium Challenge Cooperation, government effectiveness is reported as 30%, and lack of transparency is reflected in the level of freedom of information (21%) as well as control of corruption (21%)(percentile ranking and 50 percent is the median).  In addition, last time Yemeni citizens had a chance to vote for their representatives at the national legislative was April 2003 and the local elections were conducted only in 2006, which caused division between citizens and their “representatives.”
 
Increase of unemployment rate and poverty
Unemployment rate is estimated at 17.6 percent in 2012 but among the age 15-24 years old the figures increase to 33.7percent and nearly 63 percent of Yemenis are under the age of 25.  More than 90 percent of working age women in Yemen is said not to participate in the labour force. The poverty rate is estimated to increased to 54.4% in 2011.
 
The above issues feed into a sense of alienation and marginalization and create a spiral circle of exclusion, diminished sense of citizenship and gap between the state and citizens, and conflict.
Describe your proposed solution – How does your approach build on or add to more traditional ways of dealing with problem?

Our proposal is to encourage direct participation of citizens in local authorities decision-making processes. UNFPA and UNDP support district local authorities in Yemen on citizens participation.  Last year, 14 local authorities convened town hall meetings to present the district plans, projects and budgets, which was the first trial for the local authorities to involve citizens.   This experience revealed that the local authorities can barely conduct the town hall meetings only in the district capital due to financial constrain and sometimes even their reluctance to the citizens participation in decision making process.  In piloting in districts in Taiz Governorate, we propose that much wider citizens can directly vote in prioritizing the district projects in support with new technologies.  This will lead to improve responsiveness of public services, the state’s accountability, citizens’ sense of ownership and trust in the State. 

Which technologies are you planning to use and why? Please make reference to other similar uses of your proposed technology.

Our proposed technologies are SMS, web and What’s App linked to cloud sourced database. What’s App is widely used by Yemeni people due to affordable package and phone coverage.   Already an initiative, gathering young people and established in one of Taiz districts used What’s App to map all the available service delivery and infrastructure in the district.  However, What’s App is more widely used by male Yemenis.  Using SMS and web, more women can participate in the process of district project prioritizations.  Our idea is to establish a mechanism, which would allow the citizens to participate in prioritizing the district projects using SMS, web and What’s App.  In combination with a software, which allows to store the data in the cloud, the collected data can be visualized on an interactive map with additional analysis tools.  So local authorities can easily analyze public services citizens looking for with locations.