ICT and Governance in East Africa: Study Sites

By Varyanne Sika

There might be unanimity in the excitement about ICTs in Africa but there remains little empirical evidence on the ways of actual use of ICT and in particular, for our study, in governance.

Governance, as we approach it in this study, has a political and social component, and is responsive to the present and future needs of society. Information and Communication Technologies are anticipated to improve governance. One of the key things we want to investigate is HOW they can, and are doing so, for where they have been adopted in East Africa.

iHub Research, as part of the ICT4Democracy East Africa network, seeks to study the innovative initiatives leveraging ICT for and in governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The ICT and Governance study in East Africa seeks to identify, describe and analyse conditions under which ICT tools can or have successfully facilitated or hindered two way interaction between government and citizens.

An introduction to this study can be found here.

To understand ICT use for governance in East Africa, the study is focussing particularly on the following four areas of governance;

This study will be conducted in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The specific cities and towns in the three countries were selected based on the presence of ICT4Democracy EA partners in the towns and other reasons explained below;

1.  In Kenya, the study will be carried out in Nairobi and in Nakuru. These selections were based on prominence of ICT initiatives in these areas. Nairobi, as the ICT hub in the East African region was a natural fit for the project. Nakuru, on the other hand, is thefirst town in Kenya to get free Wi-Fi therefore enabling citizens to have access to unrestricted internet connectivity. This move was aimed at “enhancing ICT in ensuring better service delivery and simplifying public participation in governance through social media.”

2.  In Uganda, the study is being conducted in Kampala, the capital city, and in Apac, a peri-urban town which is also a post conflict area. Kampala being the capital city, has prominence of ICT use and infrastructure while Apac is one of the towns in which there exists heavy use of ICT tools for governance as we discovered in our exploratory study.

3.  In Tanzania, the study is being conducted in Dar-es-Salaam and in Mwanza. Both cities have a high presence of organizations and projects whose central theme is ICT for Development, within and outside of the ICT4Democracy EA Network.

Are you based in any of these cities/towns and know of any ICT-based initiatives addressing governance issues that we should check out? Please share with us by filling out this form. Your input will help us in mapping initiatives all across the East African region for future ease of reference, so we thank you in advance for your participation.

Based in other areas in East Africa? You are welcome to share with us (in the comments section below, or via the form above), on  any innovative ICT tools used to improve governance in your area.

This study is made possible by the generous support of SIDA and SPIDER.

ICT 4 Health Service Delivery “Upscale Project”

 Background

Transparency International Uganda is a member organization to ICT for Democracy in East Africa network. The ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network is premised on the recognition that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enhances communication and the right to freedom of expression, as well as the right to seek, receive and impart information. In this respect, ICT has the potential to increase citizens’ participation in decision-making processes, thus strengthening democratization. The network received funding from SIDA through CIPESA to upscale ICT projects in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, up scaling projects that were piloted with funding from  SPIDER (Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions) funding,

its through this funding that ICT for Health service delivery have been up-scaled to cover all health centers in Lira and Oyam district.

Project Purpose

To promote transparency and accountability in health service delivery through ICT.

Goal.

To contribute towards improvement of health service delivery in Northern Uganda

Objective

 

TIU since July 2011 has been implementing ICT Health project in northern Uganda as an ideal response to challenges hindering effectiveness and quality of health service delivery.  Project approach is empowering, unit and engage different stakeholders towards collective efforts to improve systems and health service delivery; mainly focusing on Lira and Oyam District. The project was piloted in 8 government aided health centers in both Lira and Oyam and have now be upscale in the entire health centers in Lira and Oyam.

ICT platforms (Toll free Call Center, Social Media and FM Radio programs) are being used as technological for both empowering and promoting community participation in monitoring health service redelivery at their respective health centers. Increasing community participation in demanding social accountability of health workers has always been key in realizing expected results and building a working relationship between service providers and service users. To realize lasting solutions to the poor health service delivery, TIU has always worked hand in hand with respective district Local government in advocating for improved health service delivery in both Oyam and Lira district.

The toll free call center (0800200188) which is the main technological platform being used is providing a great deal of community engagement and participation, a platform were community health users call the organization for free to report health service delivery challenges; when complains are reported, followed-ups are made to verify and ensure evident based reporting before respective authorities are engaged to take actions. Social Media (www.facebook.com/StopAbsenteeism ) is also been used to share and inform global internet users regarding project findings, results and knowledge sharing.

Transparency International Uganda encourages health service users and different stakeholders to monitor health service delivery at respective government aided health centers in Northern Uganda and report their findings through the toll free call center which intern the organization will make follow ups and engage relevant authorizes to address respective complains.

 

Video: Introduction to eSociety Kasese

Located in Western Uganda, eSociety Kasese is a resource centre that promotes ICT literacy and the use of ICT for transparency in the local government. As part of its iParticipate Uganda project, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has provided to the centre equipment and connectivity support. In addition, we jointly conduct research and citizen journalism training.

Below is an introductory video to the Centre.

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ICT for Health Service Delivery :Project Story

In Northern Uganda “ICT 4 health service delivery” project used technological approach to  empower the communities. Through the empowerment, the communities were able to  engagement and participate in monitoring and demanding for better health service delivery. The main awareness media technological tools that were used included the local FM radio programs which informed, educated and empowered over 7000 people in and out of the target districts in a period of 12 months, TIU managed a Toll free call center that the communities  used for reporting health centre irregularities, for onward action by duty bearers.

Health services remain a great need for many communities and the only facilities that most of them can afford  are government health centers which provide free health care services. Most health centers like Ogur, Aromo and Anyeke  in Northern Uganda are visited by patients from as far as 24 kilometers.  In most cases they ride bicycles to and from the health centers. it is often disappointing for such a patient to reach the health center and   find it still locked even by 10:00am. In most occasions, even when the health center is open, some health workers are absent while most drugs are lacking.. Concerning drug stock out,  most health service users allege that the drugs are stolen by health workers, while the health workers allege that  they always never received enough consignment of requested drugs, however during voluntary accountability committee (VACs) members and Health management committee joint review meetings that were held in the target health centers, health management committees pointed out that drugs supply have improved both in quantity and delivery period which is now one month compared to the past years where it would take 3 months to receive drugs consignments, VACs and health management committee members who participated in verification of delivered drugs confirmed that drugs supply have increased.

Before this project intervention, health service users were given medication regardless of whether they were sick or not, but depending on the judgment of the health worker because the lab testing tools were lacking. .  However the situation is now changing, health centers are now strictly dispensing drugs with diagnosis supported with lab test results; at health centers where either the lab technicians or assistant are missing, efforts are being put in place to ensure that laboratories are fully operational.

In the maternity wards most health centers did not have adequate and  skilled midwives, lacked electricity power (Agulurude, Barr, Aromo) supply and alternative fuel power generators. The District was blamed for       delays in effecting the required facility  repairs and provisions.  A case in point was that of Harriet who visited Aromo health center III and lamented that   “when we come to deliver at night, the health workers ask us to go and buy paraffin for the lamp which is used in the maternity”.

Health workers also have challenges that they face, that hinder their work. A case in point was Maureen a Midwife at Aromo Health centre III who called the toll free call center and said, “If it were not because of the love for my people and profession I would have left this Job, the pay is too little to cater for my family needs, I work in an area where people do not appreciate what I do for them. I am the only available midwife at this health center, I have to work for 24 hours without any off duty allocation, sincerely which normal human being can cope up with this working condition”

In response to this very urgent need expressed by Maureen through call center, Transparency International Uganda forwarded the outcry to the District Health Officer recommending that additional midwives be provided.  As a result two midwives were posted to Aromo health center III, call center (technology) helped Maureen at no cost to report challenges that she and the health center face.

ICT4Democracy In East Africa Newsletter August 2013

Read about how The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) in Tanzania takes SMS to the citizens to strengthen human rights. The newsletter also includes articles on “Health Service Delivery”, “Empowering rural communities through ICTs”, and “Fostering community empowerment through ICTs for service delivery and community participation”, among other things. The Spider ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network is premised on the recognition that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enhances communication and the right to freedom of expression, as well as the right to seek, receive and impart information.

In this respect, ICT has the potential to increase citizens’ participation in decision-making processes, thus strengthening democratisation. The network is facilitated by The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), based in Uganda. Participating project partners come from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Download the Newsletter here.

 

 

ICT 4 Health Service Delivery: Project Results

—Transparency International Uganda (TIU) which is the implementing organization is a registered Non-governmental Organization, TIU envisions a Ugandan society in which the daily lives of the people are free of corruption; Currently working in the sectors of health, education, extractive industries , Private sector and Research. TIU is a member organization of ICT 4 Democracy In East Africa.
Project Title: ICT 4 Health Service Delivery

Purpose: To promote transparency and accountability in health service delivery through ICT.

Goal:    To Contribute towards improvement of health service delivery in Northern Uganda

Objectives

—To reduce the rates on absenteeism of health workers
—To increase community participation in demanding for Transparency and Accountability  functionality of health centers
—To empower communities in reporting cases of absenteeism through ICT.
—To promote Local government Advocacy in health service delivery.

 

Project Summary

ICT 4 health service delivery pilot project (Funded by SPIDER) has been implemented by Transparency International Uganda (TIU) in two districts (Lira and Oyam) in Northern Uganda; specific health centers that worked directly with the project included health centers from Oyam which included Anyeke HC  (Health Center) IV, Iceme HC II, Loro HC II, Agulurude HC III and four health centers from Lira that included Amach HC IV, Barr HC III, Ogur HC IV and Aromo HC III. The ICT project right from inception used technological approach of community empowerment and engagement/participation in monitoring and demanding for better health service delivery. The main awareness media technological tools that were used was the local FM radio programs which informed, educated and empowered over 7000 people in and out of the target districts in a period of 12months. The Toll free call center was the main platform that was and is still being used for active community reporting.

Through the call center TIU received 3267 calls from community members.  The reports pointed out key challenges of Absenteeism, under-staffing, ghost workers, poor hygiene, inadequate accommodation facilities, drugs stock out  uncoordinated health workers transfers without replacement. and corruption in Uganda police force. Other callers were requesting for project replication in their communities while others wanted to know more about the project.  In response TIU managed to conduct health center verification visits to validate the reports. . Some of the problems were handled and resolved at the community level. The health management committees were able to address the challenges. Challenges that proved to be beyond respective health center management level like ghost workers, inadequate staff accommodation and drug stock out were shared with district health officers who were able to respond by first updating staff employment register at district level tallying it with staff numbers physically present at health centers.  The district health department also managed to complete construction of staff accommodation at some health units.

Health workers absenteeism was reduced by 30%, the figure was derived by comparing staff attendance/arrival register statistics during inception and after empowering people and structures working together to stop absenteeism.  As a commitment for continuous monitoring and provision of better health service delivery, stakeholders committed themselves through development pact signing which has improved working relationship between health workers and health users. Community volunteers have given testimonies  to the positive results/changes realized at their respective health centers.

During the entire period of implementation the Local government district health offices of Lira and Oyam supported and participated in project implementation by providing government vehicles for on spot health center visits and also responded to recommendations from TIU in regards to challenges reported from the health centers.

Project methods and results
During project implementation TI Uganda used ICT platforms for both stakeholder empowerment and engagement; key technological platforms and tools used were: toll free call center, FM (frequency modulation) radio programs, social media (www.facebook.com/StopAbsenteeism) and mobile phones.

Toll free Call Center:Community volunteers, health users, health workers and other used the facility to report cases to TIU, after receiving the call center reports, verification visits were conducted to spot check, verify and validate the issues reported. TIU  frequently called back to seek for clarifications, remotely follow up on urgent challenges reported and  giving feedback to callers.

Radio programs; The Radio programs  were used to inform, educate and empower project beneficiaries and stakeholders towards collective efforts in promoting social accountability of health workers in health service delivery.  Among presenters of the radio program included, CSO partners like Lira NGO Forum, Justice and Peace Center Lira and Voluntary accountability Committee members.  They shared with communities the different ideas for improvement, key examples from of what happens on ground and provided recommendations for improving health service delivery.  Radio talks-shows reached beyond Lira and Oyam districts. In order for the toll free number to be known to the different take holders, TIU ran spot radio jingles advertising the number and informing the communities on the reporting guidelines.  Empowering people enabled TIU to receive reports from different health centers, pointing out challenges in healthcare accessibility. Due to this, health workers were alert at all times since their misconduct would be reported by just a call away.

Strategies used during Project Implementation

  • —Using existing structures, leadership & community Volunteers.
  • —Empowering communities through radio programs.
  • —Engaging beneficiaries in reporting healthcare using toll free call center (0800200188)
  • —Development pact signing
  • —Engaging District Health Authorities toward taking appropriate action in solving identified challenges.
  • —Social Media (www.facebook.com/StopAdventeeism)

Key Results

  • —Un-coordinated transfer of health workers with out immediate replacement was solved by the district health offices, most of the transfers are now being done with immediate replace.
  • —Both Lira and Oyam district health offices made communication to partnering CSOs to coordinate their workshop invitations through district health office which helped to reduced absenteeism, in the past staffs scheduled to be on duty would prefer to attend workshops once invited rather than working at the health center.
  • —Knowledge gained  and capacity built in using ICT for community participation in healthcare service delivery monitoring
  • —Health worker’s capacity built and they are more willing to work as a team.
  • —Community health users empowered and informed of their health rights and are now demanding social accountability of Health workers.
  • —Hygiene of Amach, Anyeke and Aromo Health center has improved.
  • —Through Development Pact Signing communities and their leaders acquired new ways of jointly working towards improving health service delivery.
  • —Through Social media, knowledge shared and gained from global internet users.
  • —Districts Local government investigated and followed up recommended health care challenges in the health centers that required government role play.
  • —Indiscipline health workers have faced disciplinary measures leading to their improved code of conduct and others removed from government payroll.
  • —One health center Kitchen was built at Agulurude Health Center III.
  • —Staff Houses at Agulurude Health III were constructed.
  • —District Health officers have continued to request the project intervention be replicated in the remaining sub counties/health centers of their respective districts
  • —Reduced level of Staff absenteeism: Health workers absenteeism was reduced by 30%, the figure was derived by comparing staff attendance/arrival register statistics during inception and after empowering people and structures working together to stop absenteeism.
—Challenges
  • Transfer of empowered health workers  and replaced with staff who require to be informed and empowered to work together  with other staff and community towards improving health service delivery.
  • —Civil servants feared participating in radio stalk shows.
  • —Changing dynamics of health users who either visits the health centers once in two months or Come from distant villages which affects their ability to monitor health services
  • ICT infrastructure accessibility among women is minimal.

Sustainability

Project has empowered communities to take up health service delivery monitoring beyond project implementation  The community members themselves monitor and demand for social responsibility of health workers. The District local government structures are monitoring the health units and addressing any reported anomalies. TIU is currently ensuring that all pilot projects are up-scaled, proposals are being developed to fund raise and give the ICT 4 Health service delivery life after SPIDER funding.

 

Fostering Civic Participation and Public Accountability through use of ICTs: East Africa

The Democratization process of the East African Countries still remains elusive as Civil and Political actors of Governments and top leadership remains major impediments in addressing the underlying problems to social evils such as corruption, poor governance, a declining press freedom and lack of respect for fundamental rights and freedom of its Citizens. The East African Countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania is still bogged down by high levels of corruption, lack of transparency and accountability in the delivery of public service, poor civic participation by Citizens and lack of feedback mechanisms from leaders to citizens in addressing major concerns that directly affects the well-being of communities. This has created a situation whereby we live in a society in which people are less informed about government functions and systems typically breeding an environment in which corruption and poor service delivery can thrive.

However, Civil Society Organisations in East Africa have moved a step further in ensuring that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be strategically used to improve access to public services, to increase the efficiency, transparency and accountability of government and political processes, as well as to empower citizens by enabling them to participate in government decision-making processes. At local levels, pro-poor ICT-based governance and public service delivery strategies and applications have been applied so as to contribute to poverty reduction and development within the larger context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2011, The East African ICT4Democracy Network was set up with funding from the Swedish Program for ICT Support in Developing Regions (Spider) and composed of 7 partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Through the application of Information and communication technologies (ICTs), partners in the network continue to empower diverse communities in the region to hold their leaders accountable by monitoring service delivery and fighting corruption. The Network members using ICTs as a tool in the democratization process includes in Uganda, the Toro Development Network which operates in the Rwenzori regions of western Uganda.

Toro Development Network [ToroDev] implements a project that brings and converges the different ICT tools for increased public accountability and Civic participation in the region. The organization works and empowers journalist, Government leaders and stakeholders to ensure that they are more proactive in addressing the development concerns of the poor communities as well as catalyzing actions for a democratic engagement and accountability. The project according to its results, have trained many journalists, and registered successes in delivery of services through its approach of making an informed citizenry able to ask questions and leaders accountable to their electorates.

Transparency International in Uganda, uses ICTs in the Health Sector delivery in Northern Uganda, a community that has been regarded marginalized and also suffered the brunt of the LRA insurgency for more than a decade. This organization deploy a number of ICT tools including mobile phones, toll free lines and other strategies to ensure that the falling health in the communities of Northern Uganda and the country in general which is largely criticized is not on the brink of collapse but yet supporting the rural communities. They have trained health workers and empowered communities to be more alert to report cases of theft of drugs in health centers and absenteeism of health workers. They have also empowered leaders to be more accountable to its electorates always giving feedback and ensuring that there is public trust and confidence amongst the citizenzry.

Meanwhile, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA) through her iParticpate project conducts Research to understand the issues behind lack or for citizen participation using a number of ICT tools. Through a project on catalyzing civic participation and democracy monitoring, CIPESA has carried out needs assessments including surveys of knowledge attitudes and practices among individuals, citizens, groups and local governments regarding utility, effectiveness and security of using ICTs in citizen participation and monitoring of democracy

WOUGNET, an organization with specialty in ICTs and Gender policy through its project ‘’Empowering local people and communities to monitor district service delivery’’ critically addresses the inclusion of women in democratic processes through the application of ICTs. Technical and Democratic processes are in themselves inaccessible for women due to the culture and the gender structure in place. WOUGNET applied both methods and challenged them simultaneously. Ihub Research in Kenya through its project ‘’M-Governance: exploring conditions for successful water governance through use of mobile phones’’ [m-Governance] in Kenya, illustrating further gains towards employing the use of mobile technology in Governance processes. The Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance [CHRAGG] in Tanzania have been conducting SMS for human Rights has brought its services closer to the people where Tanzanians can report and obtain feedback through a basic mobile phone.

Written by:

Moses Owiny_Facilitator for the East African ICT4Democracy Network [ICT4DemEA]

WOUGNET Conducts awareness raising for New Upscale Project in Tororo, Eastern Uganda

WOUGNET with financial support from the Swedish Program for ICT support to Developing Countries (Spider) conducted awareness raising meetings in the District of Tororo and Busia in Eastern Uganda from the 23rd -27th of September 2013. The awareness meetings was aimed at introducing the new project to the district and mapping stakeholders and partners to be involved in the Project.

The Senior Program Officer, Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy, Ms. Goretti Z. Amuriat met a number of District leaders including the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and the Chief Administrative Officer of Busia, Mr. Okumu Christopher and briefed them about the SPIDER Upscale project in their offices last week. Mr. Okumu said that he believes that it will be one of the best projects in his district and since it is targeting mainly women, he is so happy about it and welcomes it to Busia

Chief Administrative Officer, Busia speaks to the WOUGNET Program Head in Eastern Uganda

Meanwhile, the Resident District Commissioner, Tororo decried the state of Corruption and mismanagement of public resources in the district as well as poor active engagement of local people in holding their leaders accountable and welcomed the new project with open arms.

WOUGNET received financial support from Spider to implement projects aimed at promoting Citizen participation for improved social service deliveries through use of ICTs. This Project was originally piloted in Northern Uganda districts of Apac, Kole, Gulu, Oyam and Amuru/

Spider Initiative to form a Network for ICT in Education

Spider ICT for Education Network Workshop held in Uganda, August 28-29

Spider project partners at the workshop. From left John Sebaganwa (Open Learning Exchange Rwanda), Regina Monyemangene (Open University of Tanzania), Iryna Kuchma (EIFL), Tito Okumu (Makerere University), and Ulf Larsson (Spider). Raul Silveti (Fundacion LaPaz) participated via skype. Spider and five project partners within education has held a successful workshop in Kampala, Uganda where the Network for ICT in Education was formed. The workshop took place on August 28-29 and was modeled after the start-up of other networks among Spider-funded projects, such as the East Africa ICT4Democracy network. The project partners at the workshop were Makerere University from Uganda (where the project coordinator Tito Okumu participated), EIFL, Italy (Iryna Kuchma), Open Learning Exchange Rwanda (John Sebaganwa), Open University of Tanzania (Regina Monyemangene) and Fundacion LaPaz, Bolivia (Raul Silveti). During the first day, each project partners introduced their organizations and projects at the workshop and shared what they perceived benefits and challenges for their respective projects to join a network. Generally, the major benefits were the possibility to exchange experiences and resources, the potential of a platform for higher visibility of project results, and possibility to collaborate on joint project applications in the future. It was agreed that forming a network would be beneficial for all participating projects. During the second day the practical aspects of forming a network was discuss. To our help we had Ashnah Kalemera of CIPESA who was the first facilitator for the East Africa ICT4Democracy network. She gave valuable tips and experiences. A Memorandum of Understanding was drafted and agreed on by all partners present. As facilitator for the network Tito Okumu of Makerere University was selected. The network has set up an ambitious plan of activities for the coming year which aims to produce the outcomes of: • Having established a collaborative platform for ICT in Education as a community of practice sharing knowledge, resources and expertise within the network and globally • Having good practices on ICT in Education disseminated.

Expanding Outreach for Citizen participation and Improved Service Delivery in Uganda

WOUGNET with financial support from the Swedish Program for ICT support to Developing Countries (Spider) conducted awareness raising meetings in the District of Tororo and Busia in Eastern Uganda from the 23rd -27th of September 2013. The awareness meetings was aimed at introducing the new project to the district and mapping stakeholders and partners to be involved in the Project.

The Senior Program Officer, Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy, Ms. Goretti Z. Amuriat met a number of District leaders including the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and the Chief Administrative Officer of Busia, Mr. Okumu Christopher. Ms. Amuriat briefed them about the SPIDER Upscale project in their offices last week and Mr. Okumu said that he believes that it will be one of the best projects in his district and since it is targeting mainly women, he is so happy about it and welcomes it to Busia

Meanwhile, the Resident District Commissioner, Tororo decried the state of Corruption and mismanagement of public resources in the district as well as poor active engagement of local people in holding their leaders accountable and welcomed the new project with open arms.

WOUGNET received financial support from Spider to implement projects aimed at promoting Citizen participation for improved social service deliveries through use of ICTs. This Project was originally piloted in Northern Uganda districts of Apac, Kole, Gulu, Oyam and Amuru.

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