Including access to information in post-2015 development goals

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have focused international and country efforts on poverty eradication and, over time, have prompted an alignment of donor aid policies. This has supported domestic efforts in prioritising human development and poverty reduction as well as stimulating new initiatives and driving some real progress in human and social development.

Success towards the MDGs, however, has not been universal. The MDGs have had more traction within the aid community than they have with either developing country governments or civil society organisations (CSOs). They have also focused largely on deliverables, missing the opportunity to harness the opening up of information to empower the poorest people to overcome vulnerability and grasp opportunity themselves. We feel, and many in civil society also feel that the post-2015 goals need to empower citizens to exercise more choice and control over the decisions that impact their lives.

Access to information underpins transparency, accountability and participation

Development Initiatives is focused on the analysis and use of data to promote poverty reduction.  We know from our work on the aidinfo programme, and that of our partner organisations, that when citizens gain access to information and use it to demand change, the results can be dramatic. For example, in the late 1990s, the Ugandan Government initiated a newspaper information campaign to boost the ability of schools and parents to monitor the government’s handling of a large school grant programme funded by a group of donors. As a result the amount of money reaching schools increased from 20% in 1995 to more than 80% in 2001, when information was published detailing where the money was going.  [1] 

We believe that access to information should be firmly incorporated within the post-2015 framework which will replace the MDGs: empowering people to exercise their rights, hold governments to account, improve service delivery and reduce corruption. We’re working hard to ensure that the need for this is recognised by the decision makers of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel, including David Cameron. DI wants to know what the rest of the world thinks about access to information. What is the most important thing about access to information for civil society? What would this goal look like as part of the re-shaped post-2015 MDGs? This is a global conversation – and we want to hear as many voices as possible.

“What would a post-2015 development goal focused on access to information look like?”

Please tweet your answer to us during November 2012 @devinitorg using the hashtag #A2info

And if your organisation is also interested in enabling and facilitating access to information for the poorest, please get in touch with us on 


[1] Ritva Reinikka, R and Svensson J, 2004, Fighting corruption to improve schooling: evidence from a newspaper campaign in Uganda. See paper.