Día Blanco (White Day) – Strategy for Transparency
In a context where the channels between institutions and citizens have been broken by corruption, Día Blanco [White Day] is developed to promote bonds of trust and legitimacy among communities. In the last 3 years, more than 35,000 citizens have been mobilized by this innovative experience, which helps social organizations to inform their communities about their management and impact on local development through social accountability exercises.
In Medellín, social control has gained strength based on the high corruption rates in the management of public resources that have marked the country. At the same time, citizen's interest in the subject is growing and, with it, the need for an accompaniment by the institutions so that this exercise becomes a functional participation and feedback tool between civil society and public institutions.
In the fight against corruption, citizen participation is key. An active society and vigilant of the public institutions’ management is essential to control the State and, in general, public resources. To that extent, one of the objectives of citizen participation in social control understood as a form of participation that allows citizens to determine the conditions (how, when and where) in which public management is developed through suggestions and, if necessary, complaints.
From the municipal administration, the Citizen Participation Secretariat supports and reinforces Social Control exercises through promotion, research, and training processes which seek to encourage citizens to participate. Also, it provides tools to the people who perform the exercise to qualify and enhance it in time. Particularly, the Support Team for Social Control of Public Management promotes and encourages the linkage of social and community organizations to strengthen the exercise of best practices and self-regulation.
The accountability exercise is one of the most representative expressions of co-responsibility that can be carried out by these actors whose management impacts the territories. It is a moment of the community working for the community, in which bonds of trust and relations are built and strengthened to join efforts for achieving common objectives. Accountability makes possible:
• To build relationships of trust between the actors from different sectors of society.
• To understand the organization, its operation and the results of its management.
• To asses, correct and adjust actions and projects according to the opinions and contributions that arise from direct dialogue with the community.
• To promote transparency in the entities' actions.
• To maintain communities interested in social work.
• To strengthen the relationship between the community and the organization.
• To evidence the legitimacy and legality of the organization.
The process accountability has a specific moment of execution, called Día Blanco [White Day], where social and community organizations, after receiving training and advice on how to communicate and inform communities, generate spaces for dialogue where different stakeholders participate. Día Blanco [White Day] is composed of several city events where organizations carry out face-to-face simultaneous exercises of Accountability in all the communes and townships of Medellín.
This process is innovative because there are no experiences in the country and in Latin America that have managed to mobilize many citizens. In addition, over the last six years, its implementation has generated interest among people towards these dialogue spaces, and each year an average of 200 organizations and 9000 citizens are mobilized and participate in the programmed Accountability activities. On Día Blanco different actors participate, such as the Social Organizations, the Communal Action Boards, the Local Administrative Boards, the citizens, and the municipal administration.
In the Development Plan 2016-2019, the project the Public Sector Counts on You seeks to strengthen the ability of citizens to influence public management. At the same time, it finds in Día Blanco a key strategy to achieve this objective. Therefore, this project is meant to continue along with different terms and to achieve this, it counts with the support not only of institutional but also of citizens and social organizations.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Día Blanco [White Day] project is innovative because there are not social experiences of such magnitude in the country and in Latin America. Its greatest achievement lies in the fact that it has been implemented in the different districts and townships of Medellín for more than six years. It keeps itself in force because it has managed to position itself in the citizen's agendas.
Linking social organizations and the diversity of actors show a significant experience of mobilization and participation of the citizenship towards the Social Control of the public. In a society that distrusts and shows no interest in its institutions, Día Blanco has managed to position itself as a social expression which represents co-responsibility and transparency of the actors that affect the territory.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Six versions of Día Blanco have been run since its creation in 2013.
Collaborations & Partnerships
In the designing process of Día Blanco [White Day] collaboration between the municipal administration, the community, and social organizations is observed. The organizations facilitate the location, open their agendas and provide the logistics for the development of the activity. The government also provides the logistical resources and technical support as trainers and guarantors of the process. Finally, the citizens are linked through their participation and mobilization.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The government as the promoter of this project benefits from the opening of these spaces that enhance transparency, social and community mobilizations. It also generates trust and builds relationships and networks based on the transparency of public management. Finally, citizens feel heard and they recognize Día Blanco [White Day] as a space for advocacy, this project generates a surprising social capital as a form of citizen participation.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The indicators related to the execution of Día Blanco [White Day] speak very well of the project's impact. For example, one of the indicators of the national development plan is "Citizens participating in activities to promote Public Social Control", thanks to Día Blanco this indicator reported 36,163 citizens participating, exceeding the initial goal of the plan
On the other hand, we have the initiative to measure the transformations achieved by some of the organizations that participate in the accountability and in strengthening processes, implementing diagnostic cards that identify their status before and after their strengthening.
Challenges and Failures
The challenges are related to financial needs or human resources that allow better training of organizations, greater dissemination of the process with a communication strategy and more significant logistical support.
Some errors have been identified in the logistical aspect because Día Blanco [White Day] was developed in a single day, which generates organizational obstacles and problems, such as the delivery of the materials in the 21 communes and 5 corregimientos. As a result, for the next edition, different dates have been proposed to have better support from the public administration.
Conditions for Success
The following conditions can be unlocked for the success of Día Blanco [White Day]: first, the leadership and participation of society, the motivation to fight against corruption through social control exercises. Secondly, it is necessary to have a committed and trained human team that can train and gives creative ideas to the participating organizations, financial resources to generate innovative strategies linked to new technologies. It is necessary to have communication processes that make this strategy visible as a successful strategy of accountability and transparency.
This innovation has not been replicated in other cities in the country. It is a successful example for small or large governments to encourage their citizens to participate in matters of social control, empowering them to follow up and demand accountability to those who manage and invest public resources.
-The participation of five thousand six hundred and fifty (5,650) attendees in Social Accounts, made by 191 social organizations, exceeded by 19% the goal for 2018, established in 160 social organizations.
-It is possible to link to different instances of participation in the strengthening plan, which includes training, advisory and accountability actions.
-It is recommended to continue the processes articulately with the different instances of citizen participation and to link the exercise of Accountability in the other projects and/or programs of the Mayor's Office of Medellín.
-It is recommended to start in the first semester of 2019 the qualification process of social organizations on issues of social control, transparency and accountability, considering that for the second semester most of the mayor's projects aimed at the same public.