Reflecting on ICT for Democratic Engagement in Uganda’s Rwenzori Region

By Ashnah Kalemera | The Rwenzori sub-region of western Uganda, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools have been key tools in promoting public accountability and improved service delivery. Through an ICT “convergence approach” that combines SMS, radio and online polling, Toro Development Network (ToroDev) has for the past five years promoted information and knowledge sharing for citizens’ engagement with their leaders on priority service delivery needs and concerns in the region. Read more

ToroDev trains rural youth and women (rural monitors) in online advocacy for improved service delivery

ToroDev has started training rural women and youth leaders in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region in using online tools to monitor service delivery. The maiden residential 2 days training involving ten participants was held on 16th – 17th of August, 2012 at ToroDev resource center in Fort Portal, Uganda. The training which is supported by ToroDev in partnership with SPIDER/Stockholm University was facilitated by Milton Aineruhanga from WOUGNET.

ToroDev will train 210 rural monitors and advocates in online/ Web 2.0 tools to collect, document and disseminate online public accountability for improved serviced delivery issues. They will particularly oriented on how to interact with the “Ushahidi” online platform and other relevant open-source software. The monitors were also trained in online social media tools, human rights, governance and democratic engagement.

The monitors were highly trained to be independent local citizens that will keep updating the community and project team at ToroDev about the status of service delivery and identifying communities own service delivery needs.

They will further go ahead to mobilize and encourage regular meetings and focus group discussions (FGDs) among the 14 Advocacy Forums in the region on issues of service delivery monitoring.

Rural Monitors will also advocate for quality and timely public accountability from local leaders.  They will use 11 radio stations in the Rwenzori region as a major tool for distributing/disseminating all the information accessed through online/internet and mobile phones.

This information will be converged on the FM radio stations as a way of sharing information with the rest of grass root citizens in the region, who may not necessarily have the skills and afford town or access internet based knowledge tools. The rural FM radio will be used a hub for the convergence of all ICT tools for effective service delivery monitoring in the Rwenzori Region.

Some of the sample articles posted by the rural monitors on the Ushahidi platform.

Documented by Solomon Akugizibwe

New Partner: Toro Development Network (ToroDev)

The ICT4Democracy in East Africa network is pleased to announce that a new organisation has joined efforts with us in leveraging on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote good governance and democratic processes.

Toro Development Network (ToroDev) is spearheading a project to promote public accountability for improved service delivery in Rwenzori region, western Uganda. The project will see the use of a local FM radio broadcasting station as a “hub” for the convergence of information and knowledge provided by internet and mobile technology tools.

Broadcast media practitioners and staff from 10 FM radio stations in the Rwenzori region will be trained on how to design programs and to broadcast relevant content and information that empowers local citizens to advocate and monitor the quality of service delivery, and 
democratically engage their leaders for development planning and budgeting. Radio staff together with rural monitors will also be trained on how to use online social media tools to undertake research, document and disseminate on FM radios information on how to demand accountability and engage with fellow citizens beyond their communities for support using ICT.

Furthermore, in partnership with FrontLineSMS-UK, ToroDev will  optimise  the  use  of  mobile  telephony,  whereby  local  citizens  directly interact with FM radio stations to air  their views regarding the status of service delivery in their communities through SMS.

Established in 2006, ToroDev works to mobilise communities, sensitise and train marginalised groups (rural women and youth) in strategic use of ICT for Development tools for maximum resources utlisation for self sustainability. ToroDev’s activities also focus on ICT-enabled innovation and entrepreneurship development, public accountability and democratic engagement for improved service delivery. The organisation has previously worked in partnership with Stem van Africa (SvA) – Netherlands, National Endowment for Democracy 
(NED) – USA, PANOS-Eastern Africa, Human  Rights Network – Uganda and Uganda Journalists Union.

At its Fort Portal town head office, ToroDev also maintains an ICT Research and Resource Centre.

For more information please visit