ToroDev has trained 12 local citizens and a radio journalist in policy advocacy and social media to improve the participation of local citizens in government planning, budgeting and decision making processes. They also received more training in service delivery monitoring and lobbying and advocacy using the most appropriate ICT tools. The training which was held on 30th January 2014 at ToroDev offices, Fort Portal attracted participant’s form the Rwenzori Region districts of Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kamwenge.
The 12 participants were leaders of the rural advocacy forums which are citizen led community groups mostly based at sub county levels aimed at service delivery monitoring and accountability using the most appropriate ICT tools especially local FM radio stations. The rural advocacy forums initiation was supported by ToroDev. A radio journalist representing Rwenzori Journalist Forum (RJF) also participated in the training. RJF initiation was also supported by ToroDev to improve accountability broadcasting in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region.
The training was facilitated by Mr. Johnstone Baguma, the ToroDev Executive Director who highly engaged the rural advocacy forum leaders on issues related to understanding the policy making processes. “A policy is a plan or course of action of a government, political party or business intended to influence and determine decisions, actions and other matters. Without knowing policies, we shall not work properly with the leaders. We need to understand policies so that we can participate in the processes to improve, analyze and review them.” Said Johnstone Baguma.
During the meeting, Mr. Johnstone appealed to leaders of the rural advocacy forums to keep abreast with the national policies to ensure better policy advocacy. “Uganda has a fairly well developed set of national and sectorial policies, however, these policies are not implemented. As leaders of Advocacy forums, you need to understand these policies so as to effectively carry out engagement which requires command of information.” Said Johnstone Baguma.
The training was also intended to help the leaders of the rural advocacy forums share their progress, challenges and future plans. “We have realized better roads such as Kyakagusa road, Kisanga-Headquater road, Kagogo-Kaguma road, among others and better water in Kihondo and Bwanika parishes due to our monitoring activities. However, we still have challenges of transport funds, recording gadgets and threats from leaders.” Said Rwaheru Gilbert, the Chairperson of Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery in Kicwamba Sub County, Kabarole District.
Meanwhile, Advocacy forum members also expressed their views and concerns about the policy structure and implementation in Uganda. “Who made the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Presidential Manifesto, National Development Plan, Sectorial Policies and Uganda Vision 40?” asked Mujuni Betty, the leader of Nkoma Development Advocacy Forum in Nkoma Sub County, Kamwenge District. “I didn’t know about these policies, I need to understand them better so that I can influence the grass root people so that they can also know about them.” Said Atuhairwe Patrick, the Chairperson of Committed Citizens for Better Services in Hakibaale Sub County, Kabarole District.
“Some policies are not implemented, an example is the policy of making different cities in Uganda.”, Said Tusiime Francis, a journalist from Rwenzori Journalist Forum. “Some policies are not in line with the constitution but are made by political parties or individuals seeking for personal benefits.” Said Ahimbisibwe Jane, the Chairperson of Kyenjojo Development Advocacy Forum in Kyenjojo Town Council, Kyenjojo District.