ICT and Governance in East Africa: Kampala Dissemination

BY VARYANNE SIKA,  IHUB RESEARCH
iHub Research, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the ICT4Democracy East Africa Network, conducted a study on the landscape of ICTs and Governance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in 2014. This study was a qualitative exploration of the various ways in which ICT tools can/have successfully facilitated or hindered the two-way interaction between government and citizens towards effective public service delivery, tracking corruption, rights/access to information, as well as increasing transparency and accountability. The study was conducted in two towns (one urban and one peri-urban) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

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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.

 

Project Results and Lessons Learned 2011 – 2013

We are pleased to share some of our partner project results for the period June 2011 – December 2013. For purposes of communicating the results from these projects as well as The Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider)’s own experience with working with catalytic seed funding modality, evaluations of all partner projects are under way.

Three partner  evaluations subjected to theoretical readings have been finalized and we are pleased to publish these reports for the purpose of furthering the growth of the field of ICT4D.

  1. Results and lessons learned iHub Research December 2013
  2. Results and lessons learned Kenya Human Rights Commission December 2013
  3. Results and lessons learned Women of Uganda Network December 2013

More reports are in the pipeline.

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: October News

SMS for Human Rights

The Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) is due to undertake field studies to gather user requirements this November. The results of the study will go toward the features design of the mobile phone based Complaints Handling Management Information System.

Catalysing Civic Participation and Democracy Monitoring Using ICTS

IT support equipment has been procured for the two grassroots based centres that the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) entered into MOUs with last month. A needs assessment including survey of the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPS) to determine the ICT for democracy tools used, user and non-user profiles and their [de]motivations is scheduled for November and December. CIPESA’s analysis of Ugandan policies and practices that enhance (or undermine) eDemocracy is also to be finalised in November.

M-Governance: Exploring Conditions for Successful Mobile Governance in Kenya

The literature review as part of iHub’s exploratory research into the successful conditions for mobile governance in Kenya is complete. The review that aims to identify a Kenyan definition of good governance is to be circulated pending final edits. A workshop to identify issues in Kenya’s governance structures with an emphasis on stakeholder roles and relationships was held at iHub on October 27, 2011. The workshop also explored ways in which technology could facilitate and potentially enhance good governance. Further information is available here. Expert interviews and pilot questionnaires are scheduled for November and December.

Reforms through Citizen Participation and Government Accountability

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has contracted a web developer for their human rights issues crowd sourcing website. Information and work from Human Rights Networks (HURINETS) on the ground is to feed into the website using the Ushahidi crowd-map platform. One of the HURINETS working in partnership with KHRC is the KURIA Human Rights Network. The initiative, under the western region Kuria Reform Agenda Consortium, seeks to address systematic insecurity in the Kuria constituency. KURIA’s recently set up crowd mapping platform can be found here.

Promoting Social Accountability in the Health Sector in Northern Uganda

Transparency International (TI) Uganda in October held a workshop where Voluntary and Accountability Committees (VACs) members of Oyam districts were trained on how to report health worker absenteeism and poor service delivery. So far, the project has seen a slight indication of improvements in health service delivery in Lira and Oyam district. Based on arrival logs, health centre workers are recorded as reporting to work on time. For more information, visit TI’s Stop Health Workers’ Absenteeism facebook page.

Empowering Local People and Communities to Monitor Districts’ Service Delivery Through ICTs

Following the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)’s mobilisations exercises in Gulu and Amuru districts held last month, similar exercises were undertaken in Kole, Oyam and Apac districts during October. The exercises, which involved community meetings, informed stakeholders on how ICT can enable effective service delivery. As per the project scope, the mobilisation targeted more women than men (ratio of women to men being 70:30).

Other news

  • A number of organisations have inquired about possibilities of working with the regional network and/or different projects within. Partner organisations are exploring ways in which to collaborate with the interested organisations.
  • During the upcoming International Conference on Mobile Communication for Development (M4D2012), the East African ICT for Democracy network will hold a workshop for stakeholders in the ICT for democracy field. The open session will engage practitioners in experiences and opportunities in the mobile component supporting democracy and governance.

 


 

M-Governance Exploratory Survey

After a comprehensive literature review and an informative workshop conducted last month (October 2011), the iHub Research team ventured into the field to find out whether wananchi’s (Swahili for citizens) reality on the ground matched the theory and rhetoric. The team conducted a brief exploratory survey from November 1st – 4th, 2011. The survey was conducted to better understand Nairobi citizens’ point of view on governance in Kenya and to have a clearer picture of avenues of service delivery and government-citizen interactions that are currently occurring. This initial information will help to formulate the indicators to be studied as part of the larger M-Governance field research that is scheduled to begin January 2012.

Four locations in Nairobi were chosen for the exploratory survey based on factors such as sampling variety, ease of access, and targeted respondents: the Bishop Magua Building, the Central Business District (CBD), the Kibera slum and the University of Nairobi main campus. Two members of the team visited the sites on each of the four days with a minimum target of 15 respondents per location. The brief questionnaire contained seven open-ended questions on perceptions of governance and service delivery as well as existing and preferred channels of communication between the government and citizens. One interesting feature of the survey was that the team piloted Open Data Kit (ODK) mobile data collection software. ODK allowed the field researchers to input the questionnaire responses while in the field using a mobile phone running on Android. As soon as the phones were on Internet, the field team was then able to send the data back to a cloud server, which is accessible in real time from the office using a laptop computer. Therefore, researchers in the office were able to begin seeing and analyzing the results while the field team sent the data from various locations around Nairobi!

A major obstacle encountered was unwillingness to be interviewed, seen in all locations, but especially in the CBD. The unwillingness to give consent to be interviewed might be attributed to mistrust of strangers and fear of reprisals on talking ill about the government. This mistrust had been anticipated by the team, who, in order to counter it, worked hard to establish a rapport with interviewees and make it clear that anonymity was guaranteed. Another challenge was language translation, with most of the interviews having to be carried out in Kiswahili although questionnaires were originally written in English. Some terms in English, such as governance, are difficult to accurately translate without losing the original or intended English meaning. This challenge revealed the fact that “governance” as we know it does not exist in the culture and lingo of most Kenyan people. The closest Swahili word to “governance,” is more closely translated to “rule”, “leadership”, or “government.” Thus, there is a need to continue to develop creative instruments to highlight what “governance” means to Ken

From the brief four-day exploration, the team managed to gather the ideas of over 60 “Nairobians” on governance matters. The insights from the exploratory survey will facilitate the construction of a more “customized” and “Kenyan” framework within which to conduct the wider field research. The data is currently under analysis and additional insights will be published here as soon as analysis is complete.

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: Project Update

Launched in May 2011, ICT for Democracy in East Africa (ICT4DemEA) is a network of organisations undertaking collaborative projects where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used in various ways to promote transparency, accountability and democracy. The network, with seed funding from the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) comprises of organisations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These are the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET); Transparency International Uganda (TIU); The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA); iHub (Kenya) the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Tanzania’s Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG).

The projects spearheaded by each organisation leverage on ICT with the aim to fight corruption, enhance the right to freedom of expression, monitor service delivery, hold leaders accountable and encourage civic participation. During the recently concluded Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, September 27-30, 2011, the regional network partners met to discuss the progress of their projects.

iHub, Nairobi’s technical and solutions centre, is conducting exploratory research into the conditions for mobile as a successful tool for improved governance in Kenya. Desk research is underway to identify a Kenyan definition of “good governance” and the weakest areas of governance in Kenya. This is to be based on global indices and will engage the United Nations, Strathmore and Jomo Kenyatta Universities, Huduma and SODNET (Social Development Network), among others. This October, iHub is due to host a workshop with Kenyan Governance experts and iHub’s application developer community, conduct expert interviews as well as pilot questionnaires in five [yet to be decided] areas of Nairobi. Besides, iHub is studying the different mobile and web applications out there as well as lessons learned from existing mobile governance efforts.

KHRC’s has identified and sensitised grassroots based Human Rights Networks (HURINETs) in the use of social media. Through the HURINETs, databases have been developed for an SMS and crowd-sourcing platform. With little ICT expertise, KHRC is facing technological challenges and is in the process of identifying suitable platforms and contracting developers. In the meantime, it is exploring collaboration with iHub (technical) and CIPESA (policy) as well as synergies with CHRAGG.

In its pursuit to empower communities through ICT to demand for better health service delivery in Northern Uganda, TIU, with headquarters in Kampala officially opened its offices in Lira on July 25, 2011. Since then, the selection and formation of Voluntary and Accountability Committees (VACs) which incorporate previously existing Village Health Teams, Health Management Committees, District Health Teams and Baraza structures has been successful. The VACs empowered through ICT to monitor health service delivery in Lira and Oyam districts currently have 199 members and have so far made visits to eight health centres. During October, TIU will be gathering user needs and requirements for the development of a database to support a short code SMS application through stakeholder workshops. TIU is working in partnership with WOUGNET, THETA Uganda, Lira NGO Forum, Plan Uganda, World Vision, Platform for Labour Action and Uganda National Health Consumers Association.

On the other hand, to enhance Ugandan civic advocacy and engagement and increase government transparency and accountability, CIPESA has entered into memorandums of understanding (MoU) with two grassroots based centres. One of the centres, Busoga Rural Open Source & Development Initiative (BROSDI), is a non-profit centre working to improve rural livelihoods and the second is the local government-run Kasese eSociety. The MOUs provide for CIPESA’s training of centre staff in citizen journalism and the undertaking and reporting on surveys, focus group discussions and polls on prevailing governance, political and service delivery issues. The centres are responsible for mobilising organised groups to join a Network of users and advocates in the use of ICTs to improve citizen participation as well as reporting on the activities and developments in the work of mobilised network organisations. The contact details of centre visitors and collaborators are being collected to receive regular informative SMSs and emails from CIPESA on governance issues and how citizens can play a role in them.

An analysis by CIPESA of Ugandan policies and practices that enhance (or undermine) eDemocracy is well underway. The output of this will be briefing papers and fact sheets targeting policy makers and the media. Already published is a briefing note that explains the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The Partnership, launched on September 20, 2011 aims to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. CIPESA’s Open Government briefing (available here) explains the OGP, looks at OGP indicators and prospects in selected African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa), and explores the role ICT could play in catalysing the achievement of open governance in Africa.

Similar to TIU, WOUGNET has also started its work to empower local people and communities in monitoring service delivery through ICTs. Its project is targeted at five districts in Northern Uganda: Apac, Oyam, Kole, Amuru and Gulu. The project, in its preliminary stages has so far seen mobilisation exercises undertaken in Gulu and Amuru. The sub-counties and parishes to work with in the two districts have been identified. WOUGNET is currently exploring a partnership with Track FM for radio talk shows to be conducted to discuss transparency and accountability in local languages.

In order to ensure citizens understand their basic human rights and the principles of good governance while dealing with the high complaints volume received, CHRAGG built a web based Complaints Handling Management Information System. However, the system is not accessible to citizens in remote areas and towns without CHRAGG branch offices. The Commission is currently developing and implementing additional features to the Complaint Handing System. The features via mobile phone platform are to incorporate text messages, image and video capabilities for informers or complainants. Additionally, the Commission is to send out information and also receive inquiries about its services through the platform. An MoU has been signed with the system design and development partner – Bessbrook International LTD. The Commission has also signed MoUs for collaboration with 10 non-government organisations.

Further information is available on individual organisations’ websites as well as the regional network’s social pages: Twitter ICT4DemEA and Facebook ICT for Democracy in East Africa.

 

 

ICT4Democracy in East Africa’ Project Launched

This article was published by the Swedish Programme on ICTs for Developing regions (SPIDER) on June 28, 2011, about the ICT4Democracy in East Africa project, which brings together various partners in the region.

Recently, we have seen a number of projects, pilots and tools where ICT is used in various ways to promote democracy. Many of these initiatives have been launched in East Africa: crowd-sourcing platforms such as Ugandawatch2011, uReport and Ushahidi (and variations thereof such as Uchaguzi, Huduma and Map Kibera); innovative SMS applications such as Grid 6464, CU@SCHOOL, 3356 shortcode by City Council in Nairobi and Trac FM; and of course the widespread use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

We have also seen some challenges in ICT enabled democracy projects emerge: lack of government involvement, too much government involvement (i.e. surveillance, filtering and censorship), low community involvement and problems sustaining the community involvement over time, expensive marketing strategies and reaching out campaigns, lack of visibility, how to show impact… The list can be made long.

In November 2010, Spider together with Association for Progressive Communications (APC), organized a Governance Stakeholder Workshop in Kampala, Uganda and invited East African organizations who could bring in important and valuable insight to the area of ICT, democracy and development. Following this workshop, Spider received concept papers and project proposals in the field of ICT and democracy and after reviewing the applications, identified several overlaps and areas in the project proposals that could benefit from a collaborative and stronger ICT for democracy program. The aim of the program is to synergize and compliment the individual projects with the ambition of possibly creating a network hub that deals in democracy through the use of ICTs.

A follow-up two-day workshop in Kampala in May 2011, brought together partners with various strengths who all lauded the idea of a program and expanding their individual existing networks. The Partners have different expertise that together will create greater impact:

Kenya Human Rights Commission has been in existence since 1992 and is the oldest partner among the projects. KHRC have for 19 years advocated for constitutional reforms within the area of human rights. As such they are currently looking at incorporating ICTs in their work, and this is an area that their partner iHUB also in Kenya has expertise in and can be of significant assistance. iHUB’s strength and expertise lie in their technical knowledge and solutions which they are now marrying to governance and democracy advocacy in Kenya and area they are relatively new at. Both Kenyan partners expressed interest and support for the idea of a program approach because in this case they can work together to strengthen each other’s weaknesses.

Women of Uganda Network has for the past 11 years worked with women’s groups and organizations promoting the use of ICTs to share information and address various social issues. WOUGNET’s vision is a society in which women are empowered through the use of ICTs for sustainable development. This strong gender-awareness in their ICT programs provides an opportunity for the ICT for Democracy program to ensure that activities and plans by each partner maintain gender sensitivity in their deployment. As these organizations will look at addressing social accountability in various rural regions in the region, Transparency International the Ugandan Chapter, with expertise in awareness and anti-corruption campaigning will be assisting the other partners in this area. TIU in turn expressed the need for help in addressing the communities with a gender-lens.

Towards the end of the workshop, the partners all advocated for regional facilitation of the program, and unanimously selected Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). CIPESA by virtue of their experience in collaborative efforts was identified as the ideal partner to facilitate the cooperation and activities planned by the partners. CIPESA similarly look to KHRC, TIU, WOUGNET and iHUB to assist them in working with technology and with grass-root communities, and with CIPESA’s experience in Policy driven research changes, this program should have an all-round impact not just to the local communities where the activities will be anchored for the next 2 years but to overall policy.

 

Source: SPIDER newsletter, June 28, 2011