Citizen participation in public affairs in is chronically limited in local communities from Moldova. This refers to communities’ limited participation in various local debates and consultations regarding local budgets and strategic development options, but also with regard to what public services are needed and how they should be provided at local level.Creating and administrating solid waste management services in rural communities is particularly difficult in Moldova. Previously inexistent in many rural communities, this service is many times considered unnecessary. The service provision is often not designed and adjusted to the needs of the people from the rural communities who are largely uninformed about its importance, benefits and how it works. Coupled with interruptions in service provision, these factors enhance people’s unwillingness to participate in the management of this service, access and pay for it. Our solution envisages developing a mobile phone application that would enable a two way communication between public authorities and the people through text messages. The mobile telephony penetration rate exceeds 120% in Moldova, which is an excellent pre-requisite for the successful implementation of this solution. In the long run, we expect that this solution will improve the provision of solid waste management, as well as people’s participation in and willingness to use it.
Our idea is to develop a SMS-application for designing and providing waste management service with people from 3 clusters of rural communities from Moldova. At the initial stage, the SMS application will be used to involve people in designing the service, by consulting them about the schedule and other details (time, frequency and place of garbage collection) as well as their willingness to pay certain fees for the service. The next step would be to use the application to inform households about the schedule and conditions of garbage collection, their responsibilities, ways of payments, sending reminders, etc. The system will also offer the opportunity alerting the public authorities and reporting various problems, and as a feedback loop. The authorities will be able to adapt the system to the needs and preferences of the communities.
The solution will rely on the mobile applications and infrastructure for mass text messaging. To develop our idea and the prototype we will look into the existing practices in Moldova in using sms-ing as a one-way informative tool about various public matters, and develop it to be used as a two-way communication channel. This solution is particularly relevant and suitable since it concerns a public service that, albeit provided to several communes, is located in the cluster’s main commune. The greatest advantage of this solution is that it can easily reach to a large number of people individually who are dispersed geographically in various communities, and hence increases the chance of stimulating people’s participation both in administering and also making use of this service. This system also has a high potential of scalability and/or replication to other public services.