ICT4Democracy in East Africa: Promoting Democracy and Human Rights Through ICTs

Established in 2011, ICT4Democracy in East Africa is a network of organisations working to promote democracy and human rights through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Across the three countries, partners are leveraging on mobile short message service (SMS), toll free call centre, FM radio, social media, crowd sourcing platforms and direct community engagement to implement projects that tackle issues such as corruption, service delivery, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and access to information.

The projects are driven by the shared vision of the immense potential that ICTs have in increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and strengthening democratisation.

The partner organisations are: the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), iHub Research, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Toro Development Network, Transparency International Uganda and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).

The network is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider). CIPESA is the network regional coordinator.

Read more about the network in the profile publication here.


Kabarole Leaders Give Accountability Concerning The Health Sector

On 30th August 2014, leaders of Kabarole District appeared on HITS FM to give accountability concerning the Health Sector. “We have tried to deliver what the local citizens requested us when we were aspiring for our offices. We have built a maternity ward at Rwengaju Health Center III, and also planning to equip it with facilities like beds. We have also built a maternity ward at Nyabuswa Health Center in Mugusu Sub County, and planning to equip it with furniture”, said Hon Rwabuhinga Richard, the LCV Chairperson of Kabarole District, during ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

A congested maternity ward

During the live radio discussion, Hon Rwabuhinga further indicated how a lot of lobbying has been done for different health centers, so as to create better services closer to the local citizens. “Different Health Center IIs have been promoted to Health Center IIIs such as Nyantabooma, Kakinga, and Nyabuswa. We have also built Health Center IIs in places like Nyamiseke, Kiboota, Nyakitokole, Kirere, Kasesenge, among others. However, these health centers still lack staff quarters, but we are still lobbying to see that they are also constructed”.
The live radio discussion was also attended by Dr. Obedi Moses, the District Health Officer of Kabarole who indicated the common diseases affecting Kabarole District. “There are top ten causes of sickness that have affected the people of Kabarole, malaria being the most common at 28.5%, pneumonia at 10%, diarrhea at 3.5%, skin diseases at 18% and others at 2.7%. We are encouraging the community to sleep under mosquito nets so as to reduce malaria cases”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “VHT(Voluntary Health Teams) are helping a lot yet they are not given any support”, said Asiimwe from Nyantabooma Parish in Kicwamba Sub County, “We have a problem of bilharzias in Nyabweya Parish that is being caused by the poor water”, said Ruta Kenneth from Kasenda Sub County, “Services in our health centers are so poor with a lot of medicine stock outs”, said Amanyire from Kyenjojo District, “We are told to buy medicine even when we visit Buhinga Referral Hospital”, said Samalie from Fort Portal Municipality.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

Kabarole District Chairperson Gives Accountability

On 23rd August 2014, the LC V Chairperson of Kabarole District Hon. Rwabuhinga Richard appeared on HITS FM to give accountability. “From the month of March 2014, we were visiting different sub counties of Kabarole District, giving accountability and also carrying out down ward planning. In April, we passed a budget that totaled to 28 billion which we divided among the different sectors like health, agriculture, education, management, among others. The chairman was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

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The Absenteeism of Members of Parliament in Parliamentary Sessions

On 16th August 2014, panelists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the absenteeism of members of parliament during parliamentary sessions. “In the present 9th parliament, most seats are always vacant during parliamentary sessions. This is because most Members of Parliament are always busy attending to their personal duties when parliamentary sessions are going on”, said Mr. Mugisa Degratius, a local citizen of Ruteete Sub County in Kabarole District. The local citizen was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

A parliamentary Session












The live radio discussion was also attended by Hon. Monday Wilson, the youth councilor of Kamwenge District, who stated the functions of Members of Parliament. “Article 79 of the Ugandan Constitution states the functions of MPs as having power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. This has been done through passing bills like the anti pornography bill, among others. Other roles are protecting the constitution and promoting democratic governance of Uganda”.

Hon Monday also indicated the existence of dormant MPs in parliament. “There are some MPs who are so dormant and doing nothing in delivering services. They do not discuss in parliament and also don’t appear in public. Such leaders do not do their secondary role of forwarding people’s issues to parliament through making consultative meetings. They also don’t lobby for their local citizens and therefore are not even supposed to represent local citizens”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “Corruption has totally affected the performance of our MPs”, said Robert from Karangura Sub County, “Bills passed in parliament are not always effective in implementation”, said Apollo from Rwimi Town Council, “There are some factors that disturb the performance of our MPs like poor facilitation”, said a caller from Kyenjojo District, “Some MPs are so dormant to the extent of sleeping in parliament”, said Mary from Fort Portal Municipality, “Our MPs have not done much to deliver services”, said a caller from Kyenjojo.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

“We Fought The War of Liberating This Country”, Kinuge John

On 9th August 2014, the Chairman of War Veterans of Burahya County and Fort Portal Municipality Mr. Kinuge John indicated how they fought in liberating Uganda. “From 1963, there was no peace and ownership of property in Uganda, unless one belonged to the army.  In 1981, we started a war in Katebwa Sub County that went up to 1986, when Uganda was liberated”. Mr. Kinuge was discussing on ToroDev’s supported live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Kahuma Andrew a builder in Fort Portal Municipality, Mr. Mukwano Ssenyonjo the Chairperson of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, and Mr. Happy Steven, a youth from Kibiito Sub County all in Kabarole District.
During the program, Mr. Happy Steven indicated how he started a program of sensitizing his fellow youths on development programs. “We started up groups/SACCOS for helping the youths to get loans most especially those who are carrying out farming.  We sensitize youths in these groups and also give them skills of how they can develop their businesses. We have done this in Kasunganyanja zone, Buheesi, Njarayabana, Kyamukubu, and Nyabusesa Sub Counties”.
Mr. Kahuma also indicated the challenges that are faced by builders. “As builders, we are facing challenges like exploitation by our employees. This is caused by the nature of our work that lacks employment letters, which has led to poor or no payments after accomplishment of work. We also don’t have any forum that can unite us to protect our rights”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mukwano also participated in the live radio discussion by appealing to the local citizens to monitor their services. “Local citizens have to understand that it’s their role to monitor services being delivered by their local leaders.  There is also a campaign of signing a petition to parliament against the new proposal of taxing agricultural inputs. This campaign is meant to protect local citizens who will be at a risk of food security in case prices of agricultural products hike”.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins and using the SMS plat form to raise their issues and concerns. “The builders have to work with the ministry of works, so that laws and policies are improved and strengthened”, said Richard, “The money that the government is proposing to give to the war veterans is too little”, said Bashir from Mbarara District.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and issupported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

ToroDev/RJF Holds Another Press Conference

On 8th August 2014, ToroDev in Partnership with Rwenzori Journalist Forum held another regional press conference in Fort Portal town, Kabarole District. The regional monthly press conference initiative aims at improving service delivery through advocacy and promoting timely accountability in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region. The press conference was attended by Hon Alex Ruhunda, the Member of Parliament of Fort Portal Municipality, Hon Mugisa Herbert, Chairperson South Division in Fort Portal Municipality and members of Rwenzori Journalist Forum.

During the conference, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to act as a tool in marketing the Rwenzori Region. “Media is the strongest weapon that we have in our region. The media should therefore market our region and also take part in realizing peace in this region, through joining hands in solving the current cultural differences so that peace is stabilized in the Rwenzori Region”.
Hon Alex further gave accountability concerning Fort Portal Municipality. “Over 96% power average has been attained in Fort Portal Municipality, places like Bulyanyenje, Kyabukonkoni, Mukubo, among others have all received power. We have lobbied six billion from the central government to work on our roads, and this money is already on our bank account to also construct a bypass that will run through Kataraka-Kyegobe-Kasese Road”.
Hon Mugisa also highlighted the achievements from his office to the local people of South Division. “We introduced the bursary scheme that is meant to support vulnerable children who cannot manage the costs of higher institutions of learning. We pay half of their tuition until the course is accomplished. In the past three years, ten students have been supported, and some have already finished school”.
Hon Mugisa further gave accountability concerning the NAADS and Health sectors. “Under the production‘s office, twenty two homes received agricultural in puts, and eighteen heifers have so far been distributed since 2011. Under the health sector, two health center III’s were constructed in Mucwa and Kasusu, and a water tank was also constructed at Kasusu Health Center III”.
Meanwhile, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to always engage local leaders in giving accountability to the local citizens. “As RJF, it should be your mandate to always engage leaders in giving accountability to local citizens and also be a voice to the voiceless. You should also monitor services being delivered by your leaders. Leaders should also know that citizens elected us to serve them, therefore, we need to guide them on how to fight poverty and not keep them in poverty”.
The Press conferences are supported by NED, SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using radio and social media to improve service delivery and accountability in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

Local Citizens Continue to be Intimidated by Leaders While Monitoring Service Delivery

Despite strong legal frameworks aimed at empowering local citizens participate in monitoring service delivery like the 1995 constitution and Access to Information Act (2005), local citizens in Uganda continue to face intimidation and harassment from local leaders while trying to complement government efforts in monitoring service delivery.
In Kabarole District alone, local citizens organized in their citizen advocacy forums in the sub counties of Mugusu and Katebwa face intimidation and outright harassment while trying to compliment government efforts in demanding accountability through information access and sharing.
Members of PRIFODE
Members of People’s Rights and Forum for Development(PRIFODE) in Mugusu Sub County have continued to receive threats of intimidation from the police because in May 2014, they requested the OC (Officer in Charge) Police, Mugusu Sub County, Mr.  Musabe Milton to go on radio and explain why police in the area harasses people because they had gathered enough evidence from local citizens concerning police beating up people and also asking people for bribes  to follow-up cases.
When the OC refused to go on radio to explain to the people of Mugusu Sub County, local citizens organized in their rural advocacy forum called PRIFODE and reported the cases to the Sub County Chairperson who influenced the transfer of the OC Police officer and other police officers. However, the transferred police officers have continued to make intimidating calls to members of PRIFODE.
“The transferred police officers further went ahead and got our contacts, they kept on telling us that they will come back and torture us, shoot us and arrest us. The place where they were transferred had poor working environment so they call us and curse us, threaten us and promise to harm us because we are the cause of their transfer.” Said Tibenda Stephen, the secretary of PRIFODE.
“I no longer walk at night because am scared of my life , I don’t  eat any food from any place around Mugusu  because am scared that I might be given poison any time so my life is at risk because of the phone calls I receive from these people”. Said Mukwono Senyonjo, the Chairperson of PRIFODE.
Members of Katebwa Advocacy Forum
In Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole District, the Sub County Secretary for production warned local citizens against organizing citizen groups that demand accountability from government officials. “The Sub County Secretary for production informed us that the government should not be reminded of what it’s supposed to do, and that it does everything out of its own will.  When we met him in his office in May, 2014 in Katebwa, he said that we should be careful with asking for accountability from government leaders”. Said Muhindo Ezra, the leader of Katebwa Advocacy Forum in Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole District.
The advocacy forums are supported by SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.


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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ICT4Democracy Network at 2012 Africa-Eu Cooperation Week On ICT–e-Government & e-Democracy session

iHub Research and CIPESA attended the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Week on ICT from Nov. 26-30, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the e-Government & e-Democracy session. Vasilis Koulolias of Gov2U and Angela Crandall of iHub Research moderated the e-Gov/e-Dem discussion session. Ashnah Kalemera of CIPESA represented the ICT4Democracy Network. The 90-minute session was attended by a range of stakeholders including the African Development Bank, academics from Europe, technology consultants from Africa and Europe, and government representatives.

The e-Gov/e-Dem session opened by asking panelists their opinion on the conditions that need to be in place for e-governance to work. Participants gave examples from their own work and emphasized that one needs to be sure to understand the problem and the role of ICT before beginning to implement an e-Governance initiative. Some of the additional key conditions that the panelists also raised included: trust in the technology; political will; organizational setting; cultural, social and technological maturity. Panelists also agreed that in many cases, a change of mindset is needed both from governments as well as citizens and other stakeholders.

Some of the blockers to e-government initiatives that were raised by the panel were the hierarchical nature of governments as well as lack of mechanisms for accountability. At the end of the session, it was agreed that there is no magic recipe for the implementation of e-Governance, but a conceptual model is needed of how e-Governance/e-Democracy can work that can then be localized for the specific governance issue one is trying to solve. Transformational change is still very much needed in individual and institutional mindsets, and the way forward is both challenging and exciting.

For the PowerPoint used to set the scene for the e-Governance/e-Democracy session, see: http://euroafrica-ict.org/wp-content/plugins/alcyonis-event-agenda//files/e-Gov_&_e-Democracy_Setting_the_scene.pdf.

For an overall summary of the conference see: http://euroafrica-ict.org/files/2012/12/EuroAfrica-ICT_P8_Forum_Event_report.pdf

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT Opens

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT opened today, Wednesday November 28, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal. Under the theme Teaming-up for a strengthened and coordinated approach to foster Euro-African innovative cooperation on ICT, the two day forum will bring together European and African stakeholders in the public and private sectors involved in collaborative ICT research and ICT for development to share knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, discuss policy related issues.

The ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network is participating in the forum under the eGovernment & eDemocracy track.

Session chair: Angela Crandall, iHub Research
Panellist: Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA

The objectives of this session are to understand the different eGovernment/ eDemocracy initiatives being undertaken, discuss the progress being made in governance through the use of mobile tools, and identify the challenges that need to be overcome in order to scale and sustain eDemocracy/ eGovernment initiatives.

The 5th in its series, the event is organised by the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative under the aegis of the European and the African Unions Commissions.

Read more about the forum here.

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