Many new and developing democracies inherit serious problems, such as corruption, poverty, disease and ethnic divisions, from the closed political systems that preceded them. This poses difficult challenges for fledgling governments trying to respond to citizens looking for rapid and concrete improvements in their quality of life.
NDI governance programs work to overcome these challenges to democracy by fostering transparency, participation and accountability. Transparency allows governments to operate in ways that citizens understand. Through participation citizens can influence public policy. And accountability allows citizens to hold their government responsible for its decisions. These principles create stronger links among the citizenry, political institutions and elected officials, and allow democracy to better deliver for citizens. Read more about NDI's governance programs»
Political systems that lack accountability mechanisms are often plagued by corruption and conflict. Deforestation and environmental degradation, for example, can be traced to political systems in which government institutions have few incentives to answer to people, and in which a narrow political elite feels free to exploit resources, land and people without the need to account.
Afghanistan's 420 provincial councilors (PCs), who are elected to serve on 34 councils throughout the country, are the face of government for most citizens. NDI began working in 2006 to help the PCs engage constituents, oversee development projects — which range from school construction to well digging to seed distribution — and work with government bodies to ensure transparency in how funds are spent. It also trained all the women who won PC seats — about a quarter of each council. NDI helped councils hold more than 700 citizen dialogues and inspect more than 2,000 provincial projects, enabling councilors to build greater trust within their communities. In one example of their vigilance, the councilors of Herat province, after inspecting a million-dollar road construction project, reported that the labor resources and materials being used were sub-standard and did not meet the specifications of the original contract. This led to replacement of the poorly performing contractors and greater scrutiny. The Herat community responded enthusiastically to how the work of its elected representatives countered corruption and generated a proper and safe public road. In recognition of NDI's work building bridges between the provincial councils and national elected representatives, the Institute received an appreciation award from the Upper House of the Afghan National Assembly in 2013. Read more about NDI's programs in Afghanistan»
In Peru, to deal with persistent criticism about unequal and ineffective health care, NDI partnered with local and international health experts to bring together 18 political parties to share practical lessons and options. They examined how members and leaders could improve platforms, communicate those positions to the public and monitor how health care policies were carried out. In the lead-up to 2006 elections, for the first time, four parties included health platforms in their campaigns. In addition, 16 parties reached a consensus on health policies and signed a public accord. That set the tone for future health care legislation, such as a law passed in 2009 that guaranteed access to health insurance and health care for all Peruvians.