Tag Archives: accountability

Citizens’ Use of ICTs in Social Accountability in Uganda’s Kasese District

esociety resource centre1

By Ashnah Kalemera

The eSociety Resource Centre Kasese is a community centre hosted by the Kasese district local government in Western Uganda. It acts as a one stop point for local government officials and community members to access various Information Communication and Technology (ICT) tools and services. The centre provides ICT training programmes, hosts an information library, runs an online discussion group, maintains a news blog and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). These are all aimed at enhancing citizens’ competence in monitoring government services, promoting accountability, civic participation and good governance in Kasese District.

Since 2011, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has provided support to the centre, including computer equipment, internet subscription, centre maintenance and support to an ICT training officer. The support is in the context of CIPESA’s project which seeks to promote citizens’ use of ICTs for improved governance partly through grassroots public ICT access centres. The other partner centres in the project are the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) and the Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative (BROSDI).

The eSociety centre hosts an average of 250 users per month, mainly local citizens, journalists and local government officials. CIPESA has offered media and district officials training  in citizen journalism, geocoding methodology and data collection, information access and dissemination.

During the course of the CIPESA-eSociety partnership in 2014, we conducted a poll survey amongst a random selection of the centre users to assess their capacity and proficiency in demanding for better services, and participation in governance processes.

The results of the poll survey

On the frequency of internet access through mobile (phone and tablet), and desktop/laptop computer at home, work, internet café or the eSociety Centre 34% indicated daily use of the internet and 33% weekly.

Figure 1_Frequency of using the internet

Figure 1: Frequency of using the internet

When queried on the frequency of using ICTs to engage with leaders, 28% of respondents said they contacted their local leaders at least once a week, while 22% contacted them daily. Another 22% admitted to never contacting their local leaders.

Discussing a governance/service delivery issue was the reason most people (77%) contacted their local leaders. Second was following up on election manifestos (16%). Only 11% contacted their leaders to request for district budget information.

Figure 2: Frequency of contacting local leaders using ICT

Figure 2: Frequency of contacting local leaders using ICT

Email was the most commonly used means of contacting leaders at 72%. None of the respondents used text messages to contact their leaders despite widespread mobile phone ownership. Also, with an increasing number of people, including leaders, using social media, the platform was only used by 11% of respondents to contact leaders.

Table 1: ICT tools used to contact local leaders

Tool Yes No
Sending an email 72% 28%
Using social media (Facebook, Twitter) 11% 89%
Telephone call 50% 50%
Text message 0 100%
Other Physically/ Word of mouth

For 89% of respondents, drugs shortages in local hospitals/health centres was the most pressing community need. This was followed by corruption and poor road infrastructure.

 Table 2: Pressing service delivery issues in Kasese district

Issue Percentage of respondents
Drugs shortages in hospitals/health centres 89%
Corrupt officials 83%
Poor state of roads 83%
Lack of clean water 78%
Poor state of hospitals (facilities and standards) 72%
Low staff levels (doctors and teachers) 72%
Poor state of schools (facilities) 67%

Challenges to using ICTs

The most widely cited challenge to the use of ICT tools in accessing service delivery information in the local community was the high cost of accessing and using tools – cited by 78% of survey participants. Another common challenge was the lack of immediate feedback  from the responsible officials (17%). Other challenges cited by respondents included unreliable electricity supply, poor network coverage (voice and data), and the long distances that citizens have to travel to access ICT centres/services.

The poll results indicate a good level of citizen engagement and awareness of service delivery issues in Kasese District. They further show that free ICT services provision for the centre’s users has enhanced service delivery monitoring and citizen participation in governance through ICTs in Kasese district. However, there remains need to continue identifying emerging ICT participative practices and needs at the centre, and building citizens’ capacity to effectively engage with their leaders for improved service delivery and governance. There is also the need for more leaders to more proactively engage with the ICT tools that citizens are increasingly utilising to reach them.

CIPESA’s iParticipate Uganda project is part  of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network which is supported by the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Featured image from: http://rwecovoice.blogspot.com/2010_11_21_archive.html

Documenting the Impact of Aid Cuts on the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP)

The Kaladima Guru- Guru is one  of a  few main roads in the area. The broken culvert has rendered the road impassible 
for vehicles.

By Lillian Nalwoga

Between March and July 2014, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with the Northern Uganda Media Centre (NUMEC) launched a project to document service delivery failures as a result of donor aid cuts to the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) in Northern Uganda.

DSC_0052

Ojok Churchill, a guard at Koro Abili health center II also plays the administrative role of recording patient details at the facility.

Focusing on the districts of Gulu, Nwoya and Amuru, service delivery failures under the education, health and infrastructure sectors were documented through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Shoddy works, lack of coordination among project implementers, incomplete projects and inadequate funds are some of the challenges affecting the success of the PRDP.

Launched in 2007 in consultation with development partners, the PRDP was set up to consolidate the state authority, rebuild and empower communities, revitalise the economy and promote peace building and reconciliation in post-conflict Northern Uganda. The plan covers 55 districts and 9 municipalities. Although implementation begun in 2009, the PRDP has been dogged by corruption scandals and inadequate information on progress. The second phase of the PRDP which began in July 2012 and is due to end in June 2015, has faced similar challenges culminating in the suspension of support from key donors as a result of misappropriation of funds by officials under the Office of the Prime Minister.

In the education sector, the CIPESA-NUMEC documentation found that one school – Awoonyim Primary School in Patiko Sub County Gulu district – is reported to have received funding for the construction of a teacher’s housing unit, two classroom blocks and supply of sixty desks in the PRDP of 2009/2010. However, during field visits it emerged that the classrooms were poorly constructed while the housing unit construction was abandoned midway by the contractor without any explanation to the school administration. In another case, a vehicle meant to assist the District Education Officer in monitoring school activities was never procured despite a budget allocation of 80 million Uganda Shillings (UGX) under the 2010/2011 financial year under the PRDP.

Under the health sector, Koro Abili Health Centre II and Purongo Health Centre II in Gulu and Nwoya districts were reported to have also been affected. Although an outpatient unit had successfully been built at the Koro Abili Health Centre II, it was under staffed and the center porter was acting as the administrator on behalf of the Assistant Nursing Officer. Meanwhile, the construction of a maternity ward worth UGX 80 million at Purongo Health Centre II had been abandoned midway by the contractor despite having been fully paid.

The Kaladima Guru- Guru is one  of a  few main roads in the area. The broken culvert has rendered the road impassible  for vehicles.

The Kaladima Guru- Guru is one of a few main roads in the area. The broken culvert has rendered the road impassible for vehicles.

On the transport infrastructure front, the construction of the 70 kilometre (km) road linking Guru-Guru to Pabbo, a main entry in Lamogi Sub County in Amuru district, had been abandoned by the contractor. The road is impassible during the rainy season thus cutting off the communities from each other. The contractor had also not paid off locals who were employed during the construction. Atkinson Ojara, the Sub-County Chairman of Lamogi, attributed the road construction challenges to poor communication between sub-county officials.

The overall objective of the CIPESA and NUMEC partnership is to make Public Sector Information (PSI) more accessible and reusable by stakeholders such as citizens, civil society and the media in Northern Uganda. This involves repackaging information availing it online, in print and over radio,generating evidence on the impact of information access and use on transparency and accountability.

Other activities have included building ICT skills and knowledge for citizens and journalists to access and gainfully use open data and PSI to contribute to better service delivery; increasing interactions between citizens and leaders; and promoting greater access to PSI for citizens in Northern Uganda.

Watch the 15 minute documentary capturing the service delivery challenges under PRDP here.  A picture story is also available here.

This work is supported by the Swedish Programme on ICTs in Developing Countries (SPIDER) and is part of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa project.

 

ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network Activities Update

Network Update

By Juliet N. Nanfuka

The network of seven partners (profiles) unified under the ICT4Democracy in East Africa initiative have since 2011 jointly worked to enhance the capacity of citizens and governments in using ICTs to promote human rights, good governance and citizen participation.

Between January and June 2014, the partners each undertook activities that aimed to support the inclusivity of citizens in transparency,

ICT4Democracy in East Africa is composed of seven partners working to enhance the capacity of citizens and governments in the efficient use of  ICTs to promote human rights, good governance and citizen participation.

ICT4Democracy in East Africa is composed of seven partners working to enhance the capacity of citizens and governments in the efficient use of ICTs in democratic processes and participation.

accountability and service delivery monitoring through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These activities are increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and strengthening democracy in the region.

The partners have each created unique approaches to encouraging citizen participation through mobile short message services (SMS), FM radio, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, crowd-mapping platforms and a toll free call centre. Research has also been conducted by some partners on the knowledge and perceptions associated with ICT use and the flow of information between and among citizens and government.

As part of the projects, partners have pursued direct community engagement with grassroots based organisations, local governments, media, policy makers, voluntary social accountability committees (VSACs), academia, the tech community, and civil society organisations in the use and promotion of ICTs in governance.

In brief, some of the activities pursued by the partners include the below:

  • In Western Uganda the Toro Development Network (ToroDev) has engaged with various stakeholders and also utilised radio and social media to inform and encourage participation in service delivery monitoring and accountability.
  • The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) tapped into its existing community of Human Rights Networks (HURINETS) to advocate for open governance, and the right to information.
  • iHub Research is conducting research into the flow of information between citizens and government through ICT tools in a bid to understand whether the interaction supports service delivery, access to information, and combating corruptions – and how these interactions can be improved upon.
  • The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has combined research, capacity building and advocacy on the roles that citizens, media and public officials can play in the pursuit of good governance.
  • The Ugandan Chapter of Transparency International is supporting communities in northern Uganda to report and act on shortcomings in the public health services delivery. This has been accomplished through provision of a toll free line, social media campaigns and working with Voluntary Accountability Committees (VACs).
  • Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is working with Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Voluntary Social Accountability Committees (VSACs) to empower women in the use of ICTs that can enable them to play a part in service delivery monitoring in northern Uganda.
  • In Tanzania, the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) is educating citizens on human rights and empowering them to use their phones to report human rights violations.

For more details, please see the full activity report of ICT4Democracy in East Africa network between January and June 2014.

CIPESA is the ICT4Decmoracy in East Africa Regional Coordinator