Local Leaders in Kasese District Trained in e-Governance

This month, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the E-Society Resource Centre Kasese trained local leaders in Kasese district in the use of ICTs for improved governance and service delivery. During the March 20-21 2014 workshop, local leaders of the western Uganda district were also trained in using ICTs for information sharing and promoting citizen participation.

Speaking at the workshop, District Information Officer John Thawite urged local leaders to break away from the culture of secrecy and work in accordance with the 2005 Uganda Access to Information Act. “Meaningful participation in democratic processes requires informed participants hence the need for increased access to information,” he said.

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Video: Introduction to eSociety Kasese

Located in Western Uganda, eSociety Kasese is a resource centre that promotes ICT literacy and the use of ICT for transparency in the local government. As part of its iParticipate Uganda project, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has provided to the centre equipment and connectivity support. In addition, we jointly conduct research and citizen journalism training.

Below is an introductory video to the Centre.

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When Citizen Journalists in Kasese Investigated Why Taps Had Gone Dry

Using the digital camera and citizen journalism training given by CIPESA, staff of the e-Society Resource Centre in Kasese in December 2011, investigated water supply shortages in Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town council, and prompted authorities to take action. Situated at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, this is one of the new town councils in Kasese District. In the early 1990s, Karambi and Bwera sub-counties, which now formed the new town council, lacked clean water supply. In 1995, with a grant from WaterAid Danida, they were connected to piped water tapped from River Lhubiriha on the Rwenzori Mountains. Residents and the local community were asked to pay up to UGX 400 (17 US cents) per month for the water system maintenance. However, in 2005, the community started experiencing irregularities in water flow. The infrastructure remained in place, but water simply wasn’t flowing.








Because of water shortages, area residents resorted to drawing water from River Lhubiriha and a small stream called River Kyabilho, also flowing along the Uganda-Congo border, for both commercial and domestic use. It is believed that in the 1990s, these two natural water sources were clean and served an estimated 100 households. When the taps run dry, they served more than 2,000 Ugandan and Congolese households. There were no policies governing water usage in either country.

From conversations with locals fetching water, it emerged that majority drunk the water without boiling it.

In 2009, the government of Uganda introduced Amaizi Marungi, a separate programme intended to provide safe drinking water. However, there were delays in laying the pipes, in addition to challenges such as demands for bribes by those in charge of making connections to the piped water system. Strangely, the dry water points built by Waterid Danida are now referred to as “decorations” in the community.

Lack of access to clean water made surrounding areas vulnerable to waterborne diseases. The investigation by Kasese centre staff, only conducted in Mpondwe and its surroundings, left the team wondering what neighbouring areas of Rusese, Mundongo, and Karambi – located farther away from the river – could be experiencing.










A report produced by the Kasese citizen journalists sparked an interesting conversation on the Kasese electronic discussion group, with debaters suggesting ways to address the problem. One discussant stirred debate about cholera in the region, stating that “leaders both politicians and civil servants concerned have to take the necessary procedures to save the situation. Otherwise people will continue perishing with cholera at the border.” Another suggested: “There can’t be an end to the problem of cholera in Kasese district unless there is increased civilisation of the communities living along the water sources (River lhubiriha) in both countries i.e. Congo and Uganda. I have been to this river and I realised that on top of washing dirty clothes or bathing in the river, even the containers they use to fetch water can contaminate it. So, a lot of primary health education is quickly needed in this area.” 

Through use of ICT, Kasese citizens are starting to raise awareness about poor service delivery and demand better from public officials. Following online discussions of the findings of the e-Society citizen journalism work, these staff brought the matter to the attention of district officials in charge of water – with photos from the field as proof, and the discussions as further evidence of citizens’ worry about the state of affairs in Mpondwe-Lhubiriha. The water officials responded, and by early January 2012 had restored water supply in some of the affected areas, although e-Society staff were planning a verification mission to area.

The Kasese centre is one of the two pilot centres working in partnership with CIPESA under the “Catalysing Civic Participation and Democracy Monitoring through Use of ICT” project funded by the Swedish Programme for ICTs Developing Regions (SPIDER). The centre has so far received two desktop computers, a digital camera, monetary contribution toward its internet connectivity, and training of its staff in using social media to promote accountability and participation.

The Kasese centre runs an online library to which district officials regularly contribute documents from their offices. It also runs a resource centre that offers basic computer training and internet access. Encouraging greater use of its e services (which also include a dgroup and Facebook page) by both citizens and district leaders) would very much improve its work. And, for CIPESA, we see a great need to train citizen reporters in the districts, and wish we could arm these not only with the knowledge but with the gadgets as well.

These reporters would then replicate the Kasese water story across the education, health and service delivery sectors, and in local government accountability, helping to create a whole new buzz and action arenas that would improve governance in numerous ways.

This report contains information from an article written by Samuel Mumbere Mkamba, a staff at the Kasese E-society Resource Centre. Credit for all pictures in this story is his. 

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: January 2012 News

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.