I am delighted to announce the launch of the ‘Nazaha’ project, a UK Arab Partnership initiative with UK-based NGO Faith Matters. The Nazaha project will promote access to information and awareness of transparency in government.
‘Nazaha’ means integrity. Integrity, honesty and transparency are crucial principles for the development of any country’s political, economic, and social fabric. The world is a more open place. Information is widely shared. Voters need to know what their governments are doing. Put a different way, consumers need to know what they are buying.
We all have a right to know about the decisions that affect our lives. And we all have a duty to ask about them.
Access to information enables people in a democratic society to hold their politicians and governments to account. To identify where things have gone wrong. And to demand change.
Strong open governments are those that are able to acknowledge their achievements and their failures. As an example, the British government last month published a report on official projects with a frank assessment of those that were going well, and those that were not. The British public was able to see where our government was under-performing. I challenge you to identify many other governments that could withstand such public scrutiny. The end result was that people had the opportunity to make informed decisions about our government’s activities, paving the way for a useful dialogue on how to remove inefficiencies.
Open information therefore improves efficiency, by shining a light on mistakes and failures to deliver. It enables civil society to have access to the data that they need to successfully pursue reform.
Openness is especially important when pursuing corruption. We all know the damage caused by corruption in making the poor poorer. Giving civil society the tools to increase awareness is a vital way to show that corruption is being tackled effectively.
That is why I am pleased to be participating in the launch of the Nazaha programme today. Faith Matters, a major British NGO, will be working with civil society to highlight the theme of access to information. We are honoured to have Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh and his Economic Policies Development Forum and the Policies Development Observatory as our Jordanian partners.
The UK’s Arab Partnership programme funds the Nazaha project. Why?
Because we believe that access to information will help inform and reinforce the process of positive, constructive reform in Jordan. It will empower women, youth, and groups in Amman and the regions to launch a national awareness campaign. All citizens, not just the influential or elite, will learn that they have a right to access information. And they all have a duty to ask for it.