ICT4Democracy in East Africa: April 2012 News

ICT for Service Delivery in Northern Uganda

Monthly Voluntary Social Accountability Committee (VSAC) meetings continued in April, with prevailing bad governance and poor service delivery issues reported in the districts of Gulu, Amuru, Apac, Kore and Oyam and uploaded on the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) Ushahidi platform.

Among the reports and follow up action:

  • Stolen drugs and rude staff at the Chegere Health Centre II: the issues were brought to the attention of the assistant district commissioner and as a result, formal warnings were issued to the centre staff.
  • At another centre, Kidilani Health Centre II, there were reports of staff shortages, bad maintenance, and poor staff housing. After the issues were elevated to the health centre’s management, full time nurses are back on duty and health centre surroundings have been cleaned up. VSAC members are undertaking mobilisation exercises in the community to fundraise for improved centre staff housing.
  • Accountability for funds from the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) for constructing of teachers’ houses in Tar Ogali parish was also raised in the area’s VSAC meeting. Committee members followed-up with the school management and were given assurances that the construction work would soon be underway.

WOUGNET reports that the continued support of district and sub-county leaders, as well as CSOs, continues to encourage the work of VSACs.

Meanwhile, Transparency International (TI) Uganda has embarked on an awareness raising exercise for its toll free call centre which will enable citizens to log complaints about health service delivery in the region. Agreements have been reached with a number of health centres to allow for the painting of the toll free number on strategic public access points on the centre premises.

SMS for Human Rights

In Tanzania, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) in collaboration with Bessbrook International Ltd. of Tanzania completed the implementation of the SMS for Human Rights Management Information System. The system has been installed and is being tested in a working environment. User feedback and opinions are being collected on automated responses from the system.

However, the system has so far been unable to allow for multimedia messaging and content. CHRAGG and Bessbrook are working to rectify this. Full system deployment is pending an SMS short code provision from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority and toll free services from leading telecos.

mGovernance in Kenya

During April, iHub Research conducted user-centred design workshops as a basis for strategising on building mobile governance applications from citizen users’ perspective.

Activity planning for fieldwork to explore the conditions for successful mobile phone enabled governance across Kenya is also underway. Through its extensive grassroots based Human Rights Networks (HURINETS), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) will assist iHub Research in choosing appropriate field sites across the country and facilitate interaction with local communities. iHub Research is also anticipating to engage Mzalendo in its research. The blog platform for holding leaders accountable and rating their work will offer feedback on the research questions to be included in the full data collection exercise.

Meanwhile, the Social Development Network (SODNET) has also agreed to share their raw data on Huduma to enrich iHub Research’s work. iHub research will use these findings to identify their key thematic areas of focus based on feedback from the platform. Huduma is a mobile phone short code platform for Kenyan citizens to voice the difficulties they encounter in using public services.

iParticipate Uganda

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) published and disseminated a report entitled ‘How ICT Tools are Promoting Civic Participation in Uganda’. The report illustrates how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are aiding citizen participation in Uganda, but also points to the challenges that need to be overcome for these technologies to have a wider impact on governance. Read the full report here.

CIPESA also finalised the Open Governance in Uganda study. The study sought to establish Uganda’s readiness for open data, capture citizen’s perceptions on open governance in Uganda as well as form a basis for advocating for increased government openness in Uganda. During the study, awareness about open government and its benefits was raised, highlighting an urgent need for open governance in Uganda. The reports produced will go toward CIPESA’s wider campaigns in promoting open governance in Uganda and the use of ICTs for democratic governance.

In April, CIPESA represented Uganda at the Internet Society (ISOC)’s Global INET event in Geneva, Switzerland. Furthermore, CIPESA attended the Digital Migration Workshop for Southern and Eastern African Countries. Insights from the workshop are available here.

Other news

In April, the ICT4Democracy in East Africa network participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum that aimed to deepen discussions on how freedom and openness on the internet can promote social and economic development globally. Participants included media, civil society, academia, telecommunications, national and international development agencies. Organised by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Internet Infrastructure Foundation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the forum took place on April 18 – 19, 2012.

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