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.
SMS for Human Rights
In addition to Lindi, Mwanza and Iringa regions, the Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) extended its field studies to gather user requirements to Dar es Salaam. With a clearer indication of what citizens want, the Commission has now started work toward the system requirements and features design of the mobile phone based Complaints Handling Management Information System.
During December, CHRAGG undertook a study tour to the offices of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). The two organisations shared knowledge and information on the technology aspects of their ICT for Democracy projects.
Catalysing Civic Participation and Democracy Monitoring Using ICTs
The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in December undertook a mini survey to identify the knowledge, attitudes, and the needs of citizen groups and local governments regarding the utility, effectiveness, and security of ICT for democracy in the country’s western region. The survey involved focus group discussions at the Rwenzori Information Centre Network (RICNET) and individually administered questionnaires in the town centres of Kabarole and Kasese districts.
At Kasese e-Society, CIPESA’s western region grassroots based partner, staff were trained in the use of a collaborative workspace that will be used to document the centre’s activities related to the project. To improve its work in using ICT for enhancing civic participation, CIPESA provided to the centre two desktop computers, a digital camera and monetary contribution toward its internet connectivity.
M-Governance: Exploring Conditions for Successful Mobile Governance in Kenya
iHub’s research team are undertaking work to ascertain the numerous mobile technologies out there in relation to governance. They are currently approaching governance application (apps) developers to seek permission to test their apps in a usability focus group during January. The aim of the tests will be to understand how various stakeholder groups would interact with the technology. The usability tests are to be carried out initially in Nairobi with the findings used for future testing in other parts of the country.
In early February, iHub Research plans to hold a second workshop to disseminate the findings from the exploratory research and the Nairobi apps usability testing. The workshop will take on the same format as the one held last October.
Reforms through Citizen Participation and Government Accountability
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) is in the process of procuring ICT equipment for 10 community-based Human Rights Networks (HURINETs). Information and work from the HURINETs on the ground will feed into the crowd sourcing and civic participation website KHRC is developing.
Website development is nearly complete and KHRC is due to hold a press conference to launch its project. The HURINETs, upon receipt of the equipment, will be trained on how to effectively use ICT to engage citizens and hold their leaders accountable.
Promoting Social Accountability in the Health Sector in Northern Uganda
In December, Transparency International (TI) Uganda carried out health centre visits in Lira and Oyam districts. Talks with centre users and arrival logs for health workers indicated that whereas health centre workers were reporting to work on time (8am), service did not begin until about 10am. TI Uganda staff advised patients that they would soon be able to log complaints about health service delivery through a toll free helpline.
Talks are underway between TI Uganda and one of Uganda’s telecommunications service providers to install a call centre before the end of February. TI Uganda is also in the process of organising a press conference to inform the community about its project in northern Uganda. The aim is to sensitise citizens about the ongoing work and seek their involvement and support.
Empowering Local People and Communities to Monitor Districts’ Service Delivery Through ICTs
The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) conducted two awareness-raising workshops on good governance and effective service delivery in Apac and Kole district during December. An Ushahidi platform was launched for Voluntary Social Accountability Committees (VSACs) to report and map prevailing poor service delivery issues in the districts. Workshop participants were trained on how to upload content and access information.