ICT for Human Rights and Democracy in Kenya
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) trained 22 grassroots-based Human Rights Network (HURINET) members in the use of ICT, especially social media, for monitoring and reporting human rights violations. Installation of three ICT platforms – bulk SMS facility, a civic action website and an intranet to engage the HURINETS – are currently underway and could be ready during April.
ICT for Service Delivery in Northern Uganda
In March, the monthly Voluntary Social Accountability Committee (VSAC) meetings to report on poor service delivery and bad governance continued in five districts in Northern Uganda. Committee members were trained on uploading incident reports to the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) Ushahidi platform. Some of the reports received related to poor water supply in Gulu district; Bribery and ‘ghost’ beneficiaries of a government piggery farming program; problems affecting schools performance in Apac District; and poor quality of road construction.
Following last month’s poor school governance reports (among them Boke Primary School in Apac district), VSAC members successfully lobbied the headmaster and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) chairman to hold a PTA meeting. Committee members also mobilised parents to put up temporary housing structures for two teachers and rental arrangements were made for a third teacher.
However, the work of the VSAC is facing a number of challenges. Whereas email accounts were opened for three committee members in Gulu district, others lack access to basic ICTs such as mobile phones. Support from local leaders is insufficient. In Toro Parish in Amuru district, a sub-county chief walked out of a meeting held to inquire about a government agricultural programme. The rainy season, which makes transportation difficult, and electricity blackouts, is also hindering the work of VSACs.
Meanwhile, in the health sector, health worker absenteeism persists. A visit by the Transparency International (TI) Uganda team to one health centre found that a staff arrival logbook installed by TI Uganda had gone missing as a means of destroying evidence. In Oyam district, government transfer of health workers without immediate replacements was found to hinder health service delivery.
The installation of a toll free call centre to enable citizens report absenteeism is due to be completed in April.
In March, the Collaboration on International Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) developed a citizen journalism and media training manual for planned trainings at its grassroots-based ICT for democracy and civic participation pilot centres (BROSDI, NUMEC and eKasese). The capacity building trainings are scheduled to take place during May 2012.
CIPESA also completed research to assess Uganda’s readiness for open government data. The research was welcomed by all organisations interacted with. Draft reports of the state of open data readiness and the citizens’ perceptions on open government in Uganda are available. This activity feeds well into CIPESA’s wider project to catalyse the use of ICT in promoting citizen participation in democracy and governance. With the availability of open data, citizens will be able to monitor different government programmes, hence demanding for more accountability.
mGovernance in Kenya
iHub Research conducted a second mGovernance workshop to disseminate findings from the exploratory research and the Nairobi apps usability testing to spur discussion on a sustainable approach to their research. The workshop took on the same format as the one held last October. Participants from academia, civil society, developers and civil service recommended that iHub Research’s study into the conditions for mobile as a tool for increased citizen participation in government and as a more effective public service method should be extended to regions beyond Nairobi, to marginalised communities and other stakeholders such as churches and NGOs.
Meanwhile, iHub Research attended the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2012) in Atlanta, USA. Insights from the four-day conference are shared here: day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4.
SMS for Human Rights in Tanzania
In partnership with Bessbrook International LTD of Tanzania, the Commission for Human Right and Good Governance (CRHAGG) has completed the development of its mobile phone based Complaints Handling Management Information System. The system has been installed and testing in a working environment is underway.
As a result of minor changes to the security requirements and specifications, additional security training for CHRAGG employees was conducted in March to build on February’s capacity and awareness training seminar. CHRAGG is continuing efforts to partner with the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority for an SMS short code provision and telecommunications service providers for toll free services.
CHRAGG has also embarked on an awareness raising campaign. The Commission has met with Tanzania’s Constitutional, Legal and Public Administration Parliamentary Committee to discuss ways to target the youth. Discussions are also underway with the country’s Legal Sectoral Reform Programme for funding to improve The Commission’s now ageing ICT infrastructure. Furthermore, an invitation has been sent out to the President of Tanzania to be the guest of honour at the launch of SMS for human rights system later this year. The launch is due to coincide with global human rights day celebrations on December 10, 2012.