Several NGOs attempted to mitigate the data issue by supplying would-be participants with a certain amount of data, and while this is an admirable attempt, poor cell reception in many areas thwarted this effort. Moving to a more online form of public participation also has implications for those living in areas with a low rate of digital literacy.
Ultimately, it seems that during a time of restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement, public participation was relegated to the realm of the privileged, by virtue of postcode or prosperity.
A core focal area of SPII’s work involves direct engagement and consultation with people in the surrounding community. As such, our 2020 plans were somewhat derailed by the restrictions, and it revealed clearly where the faultlines lay in terms of adaptability. Our budgeting workshops, for example, had to be cancelled and could not move to an online version due to the lack of IT connectivity amongst participants.
However, our Decent Standard of Living refresher survey, initially planned to take place via a series of panel interviews, was able to pivot to a telephonic version instead.