New Forums to Use ICT for Social Accountability in Eastern Uganda

By Ashnah Kalemera|

Under the ICT4Democracy in East Africa initiative, the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) has initiated 12 forums in eastern Uganda, which will use various Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) tools, as well as offline methods, for social accountability.

The forums, each comprised of 12 members, were formed in the districts of Tororo and Busia in October 2016, expanding the network of WOUGNET’s Voluntary Social Accountability Committees, or VSACs, who monitor and report on service delivery failures and mobilise citizens to participate in governance processes.

Members of the forums include representatives from Local Councils, as well as members of pre-existing community water, health, agriculture and education management committees. They also include representatives of youth, women, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and persons living with HIV/AIDs groups.

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A Year In Review 2015: ICT4Democracy In East Africa

The intersection of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and civic engagement continues to gain popularity as more citizens adopt the use of tools to engage with each other, and with civic organisations and the state. While empirical evidence suggests that the rate at which this is happening remains debatable, the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network is using various forms of ICT tools to promote civic participation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and working to overcome challenges such as gender and geographical disparity in use of ICT.

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My Work As A Leader Is To Improve Service Delivery, Alex Ruhunda

On 6th September 2014, the Member of Parliament of Fort Portal Municipality Hon Alex Ruhunda indicated his role as a leader. “My work as a leader is to deliver better services to my citizens. I did not come into office just to enjoy the opportunities, but to lobby for better services for the people of Fort Portal Municipality. People of Fort Portal need to work hard to see that our vision of having a city is realized”. Hon Alex was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

During the program, Hon Alex gave accountability concerning the energy and water sectors. “Before I came into office, only 40% of Fort Portal Municipality had electricity, but now, it has risen to 92%. We are still extending electricity to other areas like Mugoma, Kyakaijo, Kidukuru, among others and all those that are near the municipality to see that they can all access electricity. We have also done a great work to see that all people in the municipality can access good and stable water. We have reworked on water pipes in places like Bukwali, and also planning to put a water pump at Kasusu market”.
Meanwhile, Hon Alex also indicated how all the roads have been tarmacked so as to boost development. “We have a chance that Fort Portal is at the center of many districts like Kasese, Kyenjojo, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, among others. All the roads leading to these districts have been tarmacked apart from the one of Kamwenge that is under construction. We should therefore look at this as a big opportunity and exploit the available chances for development”.
Local listeners also participated through call-ns and using the SMS plat form to raise their issues and concerns. “I thank Hon Alex for keeping our town clean”, said Kamaiko from Kibiito Sub County, “All leaders should borrow a leaf and give accountability”, said Muhumuza Deus from Kamwenge District, “Hon Alex should either demolish or renovate the old buildings around Fort Portal Town”, said Rose from Fort Portal Municipality, “We are also requesting our leaders to give us accountability”, said Patrick from Burahya County, “Our MPs do not give us accountability”, said Byamukama from Kyenjojo District”.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

 

ToroDev Trains Rural Monitors in Online Advocacy for Improved Service Delivery

ToroDev trained rural monitors from seven advocacy forums in the Rwenzori Region in using online tools to monitor service delivery. The maiden residential 2 days training involving seven leaders of advocacy forums, the coordinator of Rwenzori Journalist Forum and ToroDev staffs was held on 2nd – 3rd September 2012 at ToroDev resource center in Fort Portal Town. The training which is supported by ToroDev in partnership with CIDA was facilitated by Moses Owiny from WOUGNET. The training was intended to improve the skills of on line documentation and using online plat forms like Ushahidi, twitter, face book, u tube, blogging, and Skype.

Participants during the training

During the training, participants were advised on the use of the training. “The online training will help us to improve our skills of reporting not only bad things but also good things. This means that there will be a lot of improvement on our reporting capacity. Many of you had also forgotten your pass words of the Ushahidi Plat form, this training will help you to get new pass words, so that you can be able to post your service delivery issues on the plat form”, said ToroDev’s Johnstone Baguma.

Participants were also advised on what is expected out of them after the training. “By the end of the training, we would like to see a lot of online engagements, with a lot of service delivery issues concerning your sub counties. There should also be a lot of engagements with our leaders concerning the issues, for easy advocacy”, said ToroDev’s Solomon Akugizibwe.
Meanwhile, rural monitors indicated how the training had improved their skills of online documentation. “The training has improved my skills of documenting on line. I had forgotten how to use some of the tools like Skype and Ushahidi, but the training has helped me to retain them. This is therefore going to help me to disseminate all the service delivery information concerning my sub county on line”, said Mukwano Ssenyonjo, the Chairperson of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, Kabarole District.
ToroDev’s Shilla Amanya also appealed to the rural monitors to make use of the acquired skills. “I appeal to all the participants to make use of the acquired skills and not leave them to die out. Since ToroDev gave you lap tops and internet modems, we expect to always get several stories concerning service delivery issues and success stories from your sub counties on your face book pages and blogs on a monthly basis. We also expect you to use these plat forms to engage your leaders to give you accountability and also improve service delivery”.
The online/Web 2.0  training was supported by SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement and accountability for improved service delivery in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

ICT4Democracy in East Africa: Promoting Democracy and Human Rights Through ICTs

Established in 2011, ICT4Democracy in East Africa is a network of organisations working to promote democracy and human rights through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Across the three countries, partners are leveraging on mobile short message service (SMS), toll free call centre, FM radio, social media, crowd sourcing platforms and direct community engagement to implement projects that tackle issues such as corruption, service delivery, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and access to information.

The projects are driven by the shared vision of the immense potential that ICTs have in increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and strengthening democratisation.

The partner organisations are: the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), iHub Research, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Toro Development Network, Transparency International Uganda and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).

The network is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider). CIPESA is the network regional coordinator.

Read more about the network in the profile publication here.

 

Kabarole Leaders Give Accountability Concerning The Health Sector

On 30th August 2014, leaders of Kabarole District appeared on HITS FM to give accountability concerning the Health Sector. “We have tried to deliver what the local citizens requested us when we were aspiring for our offices. We have built a maternity ward at Rwengaju Health Center III, and also planning to equip it with facilities like beds. We have also built a maternity ward at Nyabuswa Health Center in Mugusu Sub County, and planning to equip it with furniture”, said Hon Rwabuhinga Richard, the LCV Chairperson of Kabarole District, during ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

A congested maternity ward

During the live radio discussion, Hon Rwabuhinga further indicated how a lot of lobbying has been done for different health centers, so as to create better services closer to the local citizens. “Different Health Center IIs have been promoted to Health Center IIIs such as Nyantabooma, Kakinga, and Nyabuswa. We have also built Health Center IIs in places like Nyamiseke, Kiboota, Nyakitokole, Kirere, Kasesenge, among others. However, these health centers still lack staff quarters, but we are still lobbying to see that they are also constructed”.
The live radio discussion was also attended by Dr. Obedi Moses, the District Health Officer of Kabarole who indicated the common diseases affecting Kabarole District. “There are top ten causes of sickness that have affected the people of Kabarole, malaria being the most common at 28.5%, pneumonia at 10%, diarrhea at 3.5%, skin diseases at 18% and others at 2.7%. We are encouraging the community to sleep under mosquito nets so as to reduce malaria cases”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “VHT(Voluntary Health Teams) are helping a lot yet they are not given any support”, said Asiimwe from Nyantabooma Parish in Kicwamba Sub County, “We have a problem of bilharzias in Nyabweya Parish that is being caused by the poor water”, said Ruta Kenneth from Kasenda Sub County, “Services in our health centers are so poor with a lot of medicine stock outs”, said Amanyire from Kyenjojo District, “We are told to buy medicine even when we visit Buhinga Referral Hospital”, said Samalie from Fort Portal Municipality.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

Kabarole District Chairperson Gives Accountability

On 23rd August 2014, the LC V Chairperson of Kabarole District Hon. Rwabuhinga Richard appeared on HITS FM to give accountability. “From the month of March 2014, we were visiting different sub counties of Kabarole District, giving accountability and also carrying out down ward planning. In April, we passed a budget that totaled to 28 billion which we divided among the different sectors like health, agriculture, education, management, among others. The chairman was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

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The Absenteeism of Members of Parliament in Parliamentary Sessions

On 16th August 2014, panelists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the absenteeism of members of parliament during parliamentary sessions. “In the present 9th parliament, most seats are always vacant during parliamentary sessions. This is because most Members of Parliament are always busy attending to their personal duties when parliamentary sessions are going on”, said Mr. Mugisa Degratius, a local citizen of Ruteete Sub County in Kabarole District. The local citizen was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

A parliamentary Session

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The live radio discussion was also attended by Hon. Monday Wilson, the youth councilor of Kamwenge District, who stated the functions of Members of Parliament. “Article 79 of the Ugandan Constitution states the functions of MPs as having power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. This has been done through passing bills like the anti pornography bill, among others. Other roles are protecting the constitution and promoting democratic governance of Uganda”.

Hon Monday also indicated the existence of dormant MPs in parliament. “There are some MPs who are so dormant and doing nothing in delivering services. They do not discuss in parliament and also don’t appear in public. Such leaders do not do their secondary role of forwarding people’s issues to parliament through making consultative meetings. They also don’t lobby for their local citizens and therefore are not even supposed to represent local citizens”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “Corruption has totally affected the performance of our MPs”, said Robert from Karangura Sub County, “Bills passed in parliament are not always effective in implementation”, said Apollo from Rwimi Town Council, “There are some factors that disturb the performance of our MPs like poor facilitation”, said a caller from Kyenjojo District, “Some MPs are so dormant to the extent of sleeping in parliament”, said Mary from Fort Portal Municipality, “Our MPs have not done much to deliver services”, said a caller from Kyenjojo.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

“We Fought The War of Liberating This Country”, Kinuge John

On 9th August 2014, the Chairman of War Veterans of Burahya County and Fort Portal Municipality Mr. Kinuge John indicated how they fought in liberating Uganda. “From 1963, there was no peace and ownership of property in Uganda, unless one belonged to the army.  In 1981, we started a war in Katebwa Sub County that went up to 1986, when Uganda was liberated”. Mr. Kinuge was discussing on ToroDev’s supported live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Kahuma Andrew a builder in Fort Portal Municipality, Mr. Mukwano Ssenyonjo the Chairperson of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, and Mr. Happy Steven, a youth from Kibiito Sub County all in Kabarole District.
During the program, Mr. Happy Steven indicated how he started a program of sensitizing his fellow youths on development programs. “We started up groups/SACCOS for helping the youths to get loans most especially those who are carrying out farming.  We sensitize youths in these groups and also give them skills of how they can develop their businesses. We have done this in Kasunganyanja zone, Buheesi, Njarayabana, Kyamukubu, and Nyabusesa Sub Counties”.
Mr. Kahuma also indicated the challenges that are faced by builders. “As builders, we are facing challenges like exploitation by our employees. This is caused by the nature of our work that lacks employment letters, which has led to poor or no payments after accomplishment of work. We also don’t have any forum that can unite us to protect our rights”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mukwano also participated in the live radio discussion by appealing to the local citizens to monitor their services. “Local citizens have to understand that it’s their role to monitor services being delivered by their local leaders.  There is also a campaign of signing a petition to parliament against the new proposal of taxing agricultural inputs. This campaign is meant to protect local citizens who will be at a risk of food security in case prices of agricultural products hike”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins and using the SMS plat form to raise their issues and concerns. “The builders have to work with the ministry of works, so that laws and policies are improved and strengthened”, said Richard, “The money that the government is proposing to give to the war veterans is too little”, said Bashir from Mbarara District.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

ToroDev/RJF Holds Another Press Conference

On 8th August 2014, ToroDev in Partnership with Rwenzori Journalist Forum held another regional press conference in Fort Portal town, Kabarole District. The regional monthly press conference initiative aims at improving service delivery through advocacy and promoting timely accountability in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region. The press conference was attended by Hon Alex Ruhunda, the Member of Parliament of Fort Portal Municipality, Hon Mugisa Herbert, Chairperson South Division in Fort Portal Municipality and members of Rwenzori Journalist Forum.

During the conference, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to act as a tool in marketing the Rwenzori Region. “Media is the strongest weapon that we have in our region. The media should therefore market our region and also take part in realizing peace in this region, through joining hands in solving the current cultural differences so that peace is stabilized in the Rwenzori Region”.
Hon Alex further gave accountability concerning Fort Portal Municipality. “Over 96% power average has been attained in Fort Portal Municipality, places like Bulyanyenje, Kyabukonkoni, Mukubo, among others have all received power. We have lobbied six billion from the central government to work on our roads, and this money is already on our bank account to also construct a bypass that will run through Kataraka-Kyegobe-Kasese Road”.
Hon Mugisa also highlighted the achievements from his office to the local people of South Division. “We introduced the bursary scheme that is meant to support vulnerable children who cannot manage the costs of higher institutions of learning. We pay half of their tuition until the course is accomplished. In the past three years, ten students have been supported, and some have already finished school”.
Hon Mugisa further gave accountability concerning the NAADS and Health sectors. “Under the production‘s office, twenty two homes received agricultural in puts, and eighteen heifers have so far been distributed since 2011. Under the health sector, two health center III’s were constructed in Mucwa and Kasusu, and a water tank was also constructed at Kasusu Health Center III”.
Meanwhile, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to always engage local leaders in giving accountability to the local citizens. “As RJF, it should be your mandate to always engage leaders in giving accountability to local citizens and also be a voice to the voiceless. You should also monitor services being delivered by your leaders. Leaders should also know that citizens elected us to serve them, therefore, we need to guide them on how to fight poverty and not keep them in poverty”.
The Press conferences are supported by NED, SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using radio and social media to improve service delivery and accountability in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

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