AMREF makes progress with its Open Information Policy

14 August, 2008

When I first met with AMREF staff in London in September(?) last year, at the very beginning of the Katine project, I raised the issue of transparency, and whether AMREF would consider developing a Disclosure Policy, which would spell out what documents would automatically be made publicly available, what would remain confidential and where case-by-case approval might be needed.

I was pleased to see some months later, in November 2007, that the AMREF Board had approved an Open information Policy (possibly already under development before my discussion in September). This was followed by an Implementation Plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. While I was impressed by the range of documents to be made available, I was a bit concerned at how slow this process was (the project runs from Sept 2007 to the end of 2010), and that the disclosure of project documentation was not explicitly mentioned in the Implementation Plan.

However, in the last few days AMREF have taken a major step forward, with the listing of eight project documents, on both its AMREF UK and AMREF HQ websites. These include four documents making up the first six months progress report, and four background project documents (relating to design and baseline data collection).

In my next visit I will be checking to see how many staff, especially in Katine, are aware of the Open information Policy. And their understanding of how it is to be operationalised. Often policies get developed, but then sit on the shelf, unknown to most people, and therefore only partially implemented at best.

It will also be important to identify how many local stakeholders are aware of this policy, especially in the Project Steering Committee at the district level, and the Project Management Committee level, in Katine sub-county. Issues of access to information, regarding project costs, have already been the focus of discussion in meetings held so far.

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