Call to Support ChalkBoard #OpenGov in Liberia

OpenGov Hub tenant Accountability Lab is working intensely in Liberia to help citizens and journalists to promote transparency and accountability in government. Their next project aims to further develop Alfred Sirleaf's "Daily Talk", a chalk-billboard stand in Monrovia that brings news to up to 10,000 people a day. You can support the campaign here.

More about the Campaign... 

By Blair Glencorse, Founder of Accountability Lab

The Problem

The West African country of Liberia is perceived by its own citizens to be the second most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International’s most recent survey. At the root of this corruption, and many other challenges to the people’s quality of life is a systemic lack of information which prevents transparency and accountability.

Unless citizens have access to information about how their country is run and can hold their leaders to account, resources will continue to be spent in a way that does not further the public good. A few of the government ministries have websites, but these are confusing and out-dated. When Liberians take the time to visit the ministries in person, they are met with disorganized records and uncooperative officials. The media can serve as a bridge between citizens and the government, but few can afford daily newspapers or access to the Internet. The people of Liberia are frustrated with the status quo and want to contribute to change, but they lack the information they need to hold those in power responsible for their actions.

Our Inspiration

Alfred Sirleaf, a Liberian citizen journalist, saw the people’s desire to be better informed and devised an innovative solution:  the “Daily Talk,” a large handwritten chalk-billboard at one of the capital’s busiest road intersections. Each day, he curates dozens of newspapers and communicates with a wide network of citizen journalists to develop relevant and important headlines, and then displays them in colloquial language and illustrations that even those with limited literacy can understand. His billboard has proved a huge success, providing as many as 10,000 passers-by each day with free and convenient access to top news stories in a way they can understand. This simple, low-tech initiative receives more traffic than most popular website in Liberia, and is an inspiring example of how local ideas often have the greatest potential to bring about lasting social change. The Daily Talk has been internationally recognized- in the New York Times and Al Jazeera for example- but no-one has ever taken the time to support the initiative further.

The Campaign

We hope to raise enough funds to help Alfred make much-needed repairs to the original Daily Talk and then set up a second chalk billboard at another popular intersection in Monrovia. We also plan to expand the scope of the billboards’ content to include step-by-step instructions on how to navigate government services, such as how to register a business, get a new passport, or submit a Freedom of Information request and to other pressing issues that have been identified as a great concern to Liberian citizens.

We hope to raise $3,000, which will cover: renovating the Daily Talk, building a new chalk billboard, weather-proof chalk, training for citizen journalists, and outreach to citizens so that the billboards provide information citizens really care about. The Accountability Lab’s operational costs are covered, so 100% of the funds you contribute will be used on the ground in Liberia to fund Alfred’s civic education initiative. Please donate what you can (it's tax deductible!) and then help us share Alfred’s inspiring story by linking to this page on your Facebook or Twitter!

The Impact

With your support, the Daily Talk billboards will give 20,000 Liberians a day access to the information they need to hold their government accountable. It will increase the level of understanding and engagement between Liberian citizens and their government. It will give citizens greater voice and dignity and empower them to serve as a check again government corruption. This newfound sense of accountability will serve as the gateway for greater political, economic, and social development.

Alfred’s billboards are low cost but high impact. They are designed and maintained by locals who know and understand the people they are serving. Once we invest the $3,000 to help establish their foundation, they will be sustainable through local means. We hope that these boards will serve as a model to improve citizen awareness and participation in other difficult areas around the world.

About the Accountability Lab

The Accountability Lab is an independent, for-purpose organization that works to generate sustainable development by making power-holders responsible. We work to harness the creativity of individuals to bolster accountability in sustainable and collaborative ways. We maintain strict standards of internal accountability and are committed to evaluating our impact and continually finding more effective ways to help people living in the most difficult areas of the world. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

The campaign website:

Nathaniel HellerComment