Togo and the power of civic participation via SMS
In one of Togo's largest cities, citizens provide their views about current city planning projects via text message.
Morou Aïchatou Tènè is a community worker in Togo who welcomes the possibility of co-determination in her hometown. This is her story.
“In my home city of Sokodé, one of the largest cities in Togo, citizens can influence urban planning with their mobile phones.
Using what is known as a citizen feedback loop mechanism, we can participate in municipal decision making for measures that will improve the infrastructure of Sokodé and other cities. KfW is supporting these measures with a total of 5 million Euro.
Citizens receive the surveys in the form of text messages and we send our answers back to the city in the same way — free of charge and anonymously.
Our telephone numbers are automatically anonymised by the IT system, so they are not connected to the answers in the database. The results are then discussed on local radio and at city council meetings.
I participated in three surveys right away: one survey was about how waste disposal in the city could be improved; the majority voted for setting up waste collection points.
Another survey was about how we should deal with the cattle that freely roam our streets. The animals have been known to cause severe traffic accidents. The third survey was about our marketplaces in Sokodé.
The survey asked about what the city should take into account during the planned refurbishment of two large marketplaces.
I stressed that it would be important for each market to have a separate medical facility and a kindergarten where market vendors' children can play and be looked after.
The surveys give me the opportunity to actively participate in my city's development — that is a good feeling.”