Bridging the Information Gap between Citizens and Local Governments: Evidence from a Civic Participation Strengthening Program in Rwanda
Millennium Challenge Corporation
- Evaluates a civic participation strengthening program using a randomized controlled trial.
- The program provided support to both local governments and civil society organizations to bridge information gap.
- We find small negative impacts on citizens’ perceived access to government information and influence on governance.
- The program also had a small negative impact on citizens’ satisfaction with public services.
- Qualitative data suggests that program succeeded in encouraging citizens to question local government policies more openly.
This paper evaluates a program sponsored by the Millennium Challenge Corporation to promote civic participation in local governance in Rwanda. Called the Strengthening Civic Participation, the program supported civil society organizations advocating for local issues and trained district government officials to increase responsiveness to citizens. Our evaluation uses a stratified random assignment design, whereby districts were matched on baseline characteristics and randomly assigned to either a treatment or a control group. Using nationally representative household-level survey data, we find a pattern of small negative effects on citizens’ perceived access to government information, perceived personal influence on government officials, and satisfaction with government services. There were no discernible impacts on citizens’ awareness of government meetings, familiarity with government officials, or knowledge of local government affairs. We investigate the underlying mechanisms that produced these impacts using qualitative interviews and find that the program succeeded in encouraging citizens to question local government policies more openly in some circumstances.