Promoting Community Dialogue on Service Delivery Failures in Northern Uganda

By Gladys Oroma |

In 2014, the Collaboration on International Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with the Northern Uganda Media Centre (NUMEC) launched a project to make Public Sector Information (PSI) more accessible and reusable by stakeholders such as citizens, civil society and the media in Northern Uganda. Read more

ToroDev’s Johnstone Kumaraki gives a Press Release on the Launch of the ToroDev/RJF Monthly Press Conference & Tracfm Polling Initiative on June 26th, 2014 at ToroDev Office, Fort Portal

ToroDev with support from National Endowment for Democracy & the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) supported the initiation of the Rwenzori Journalists’ Forum in 2012. This broadcast and print media forum has been, since two years, re-organizing itself to become a viable, relevant and independent institution to champion the voices of local citizens in the Rwenzori region.  Also to note is that, ToroDev, in partnership with Rwenzori Journalist Forum (RJF) ToroDev has also been training radio journalists selected from the 13 FM radio stations based and broadcasting in seven districts of the region on promoting public accountability for improved service delivery broadcasting.

Moreover, with support from SIDA and the ICT4Democracy Network in East Africa, ToroDev visited Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) and were able to learn some of the initiatives NUMEC uses to improve knowledge and information sharing for development. NUMEC conducts regular press conferences at regular intervals attended mostly by local leaders to give accountability and this has proved successful in ensuring good governance through proper accountability at regular intervals. ToroDev has also decided to borrow a leaf and initiate a monthly press conference for this region. It will be attended by local and central government leaders (Ministers, MPs, LCV’s Councilors, LCIII’s, Technocrats, etc) and local citizens for giving updates and receiving accountability for improved service delivery, respectively.
ToroDev, in partnership with Rwenzori Journalist Forum (RJF), have the pleasure to launch this Regional Monthly Press Conference Initiative now, June 26th 2014, to improve service delivery through advocacy and promoting timely accountability in the seven (7) districts of the Rwenzori Region. This press conference will be held on a monthly basis. Leaders at all levels and leaders are all invited to attend every month on a specific date that we shall be announcing. Today, we have held this maiden event here at ToroDev Offices at Plot 46 Mugurusi Road. In future as demand may arise, we might change the venue of this monthly event and communications on radio and other channels would be made in due course.

Today also, we have a great opportunity to launch the Tracfm Polling Initiative in partnership with Tracfm, a non-profit ICT for Development Organisation based in Kampala and The Netherlands. This initiative will allow local citizens to interact with their leaders on issues that really matter to then as far as service delivery is concerned. It is totally a cost-free Citizen-leader interaction on the side of the local population. ToroDev and Tracfm are responsible to meeting the cost of this interaction. What the local person needs to do is to listen to a local FM radio station every day and get the issue/topic/question being discussed, and then send his opinion/comment to ToroDev and partners. They will collect this data together; publish this information and what the majority people in a community/district/sub-county will be saying will be forwarded to the specific leaders for attention.

ICT for Democracy in East Africa: May 2012 News

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in May undertook a small survey on the knowledge, attitudes, and needs of citizens regarding the utility, effectiveness, and security of using ICT for democracy in Uganda’s northern region. The survey involved individually administered questionnaires in Gulu town.

In addition, at the Gulu-based Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC), journalists, CSOs, local government officials and students participated in a CIPESA-organised discussion on how best ICT could be used to foster citizen participation given the economic, literacy, and other challenges faced by the region.  The workshop participants deemed civic participation to be of more importance relative to political participation, as it often resulted into direct and tangible impacts on community livelihoods. Using CIPESA’s recently published report, the event also involved a practical exploration of how ICT tools could promote civic participation.  One of the outcomes of the activities undertaken with NUMEC was a mapping of priorities and possibilities for engaging with particular ICT tools in selected service sectors.

NUMEC is one of the grassroots based centres involved in the iParticipate project. CIPESA has provided to the centre desktop computers, a digital camera and monetary contribution toward its internet connectivity.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Uganda field office in Lira district, unearthed uncoordinated health workers and support staff transfers at five health centres. The transfers were adversely affecting the performance of the already strained health centre staff. In follow up discussions, district health officials explained that the transfers were necessary in order to staff newly created health centres elsewhere. The officials acknowledged that the transfers were done without consultations with the affected health centres.

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TI Uganda also unearthed cases of staff who absconded from duty and those who were drawing double salaries. The matter has been taken up with district health authorities.

The community is also being urged to monitor health centres to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. To this end, the installation of TI Uganda’s toll free call centre for reporting poor health service delivery in Northern Uganda is now complete. 0800 200 188 is being widely advertised in the region to inform and encourage the community to report health centre challenges.

Meanwhile, May’s Voluntary Social Accountability Committees (VSAC) meetings spearheaded by the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) to report on governance and service delivery in five districts in Northern Uganda were complemented by radio programs.  The Committee from Tarogali reported cases of Village Health Teams (VHT) being charged to receive bicycles which were actually provided free of charge by the Ministry of Health. Officials in Ibuje Sub County allegedly demanded UGX 70,000 (US$28) for each bicycle intended to ease the work of the health teams. The matter was debated on the local Radio Apac, leading to intervention by the Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition. The responsible officials were arrested, and the bicycles have since then been distributed free of charge to the targeted beneficiaries.

Besides, WOUGNET uploaded more content on their Ushahidi platform. Amongst the reports, drug shortages in Kole health centres, a security official who was extorting money from members of Chegere sub-county in Apac district, and a broken down bore hole in Alenga cell, Ibuje sub-county.

mGovernance and water in Kenya

iHub Research conducted in-depth analysis of data on Huduma, a web and mobile phone based platform for Kenyan citizens to voice the difficulties they encounter in using public services. Based on the results, the research team selected a thematic focus for the remainder of the mGovernance in Kenya project – governance in the Kenyan water sector. Preparations are underway for a workshop to bring together different water stakeholders in a single platform to discuss water issues and how to interact with each other in the chain of governance structure. The aim of the workshop is to evaluate the current feedback loop between stakeholders and the potential of technology, especially mobile, to enhance the Kenyan water sector.

ICT in human rights and democracy

In Tanzania, preparations are underway for a publicity campaign incorporating social media for the SMS for Human Rights System. The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) is still in talks with the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority and leading telcos for short code sms provision and toll free services, respectively.

Meanwhile, 10 grassroots Human Rights Networks (HURINETs) in Kenya this month received equipment from the Kenya Human Rights Networks (KHRC). The equipment, including computers, portable internet modems and digital cameras is aimed at enabling the HURINETs use new media in human rights and democracy monitoring and reporting human rights violations. The work of the HURINETs will feed into KHRC’s civic action website.


May 9 – 11, 2012: iHub research participated in the IST Africa Conference. Conference insights are shared by in two blog posts here and here

May 31, 2012: CIPESA participated in the Uganda National Civil Society fair and shared reports and work done in the democracy and governance session. The fair is an annual event organised by the National NGO Forum showcasing the contributions of different civil society actors to Uganda’s socio‐economic development and political growth.

June 26 – 29: In collaboration with the African Human Rights Consortium, KHRC is due to host the East African Region New Media and Human Rights Institute workshop.

ICT4Democracy in East Africa: March 2012 News

ICT for Human Rights and Democracy in Kenya

ICT for Service Delivery in Northern Uganda

iParticipate Uganda

mGovernance in Kenya

SMS for Human Rights in Tanzania

ICT for Human Rights and Democracy in Kenya
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) trained 22 grassroots-based Human Rights Network (HURINET) members in the use of ICT, especially social media, for monitoring and reporting human rights violations. Installation of three ICT platforms – bulk SMS facility, a civic action website and an intranet to engage the HURINETS – are currently underway and could be ready during April.

ICT for Service Delivery in Northern Uganda

In March, the monthly Voluntary Social Accountability Committee (VSAC) meetings to report on poor service delivery and bad governance continued in five districts in Northern Uganda. Committee members were trained on uploading incident reports to the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) Ushahidi platform. Some of the reports received related to poor water supply in Gulu district; Bribery and ‘ghost’ beneficiaries of a government piggery farming program; problems affecting schools performance in Apac District; and poor quality of road construction.

Following last month’s poor school governance reports (among them Boke Primary School in Apac district), VSAC members successfully lobbied the headmaster and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) chairman to hold a PTA meeting. Committee members also mobilised parents to put up temporary housing structures for two teachers and rental arrangements were made for a third teacher.

However, the work of the VSAC is facing a number of challenges. Whereas email accounts were opened for three committee members in Gulu district, others lack access to basic ICTs such as mobile phones. Support from local leaders is insufficient. In Toro Parish in Amuru district, a sub-county chief walked out of a meeting held to inquire about a government agricultural programme. The rainy season, which makes transportation difficult, and electricity blackouts, is also hindering the work of VSACs.

Meanwhile, in the health sector, health worker absenteeism persists. A visit by the Transparency International (TI) Uganda team to one health centre found that a staff arrival logbook installed by TI Uganda had gone missing as a means of destroying evidence. In Oyam district, government transfer of health workers without immediate replacements was found to hinder health service delivery.

The installation of a toll free call centre to enable citizens report absenteeism is due to be completed in April.



iParticipate Uganda

In March, the Collaboration on International Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) developed a citizen journalism and media training manual for planned trainings at its grassroots-based ICT for democracy and civic participation pilot centres (BROSDI, NUMEC and eKasese). The capacity building trainings are scheduled to take place during May 2012.

CIPESA also completed research to assess Uganda’s readiness for open government data. The research was welcomed by all organisations interacted with. Draft reports of the state of open data readiness and the citizens’ perceptions on open government in Uganda are available. This activity feeds well into CIPESA’s wider project to catalyse the use of ICT in promoting citizen participation in democracy and governance. With the availability of open data, citizens will be able to monitor different government programmes, hence demanding for more accountability.

mGovernance in Kenya

iHub Research conducted a second mGovernance workshop to disseminate findings from the exploratory research and the Nairobi apps usability testing to spur discussion on a sustainable approach to their research. The workshop took on the same format as the one held last October. Participants from academia, civil society, developers and civil service recommended that iHub Research’s study into the conditions for mobile as a tool for increased citizen participation in government and as a more effective public service method should be extended to regions beyond Nairobi, to marginalised communities and other stakeholders such as churches and NGOs.

Meanwhile, iHub Research attended the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2012) in Atlanta, USA. Insights from the four-day conference are shared here: day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4.

SMS for Human Rights in Tanzania

In partnership with Bessbrook International LTD of Tanzania, the Commission for Human Right and Good Governance (CRHAGG) has completed the development of its mobile phone based Complaints Handling Management Information System. The system has been installed and testing in a working environment is underway.

As a result of minor changes to the security requirements and specifications, additional security training for CHRAGG employees was conducted in March to build on February’s capacity and awareness training seminar. CHRAGG is continuing efforts to partner with the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority for an SMS short code provision and telecommunications service providers for toll free services.

CHRAGG has also embarked on an awareness raising campaign. The Commission has met with Tanzania’s Constitutional, Legal and Public Administration Parliamentary Committee to discuss ways to target the youth. Discussions are also underway with the country’s Legal Sectoral Reform Programme for funding to improve The Commission’s now ageing ICT infrastructure. Furthermore, an invitation has been sent out to the President of Tanzania to be the guest of honour at the launch of SMS for human rights system later this year. The launch is due to coincide with global human rights day celebrations on December 10, 2012.

ICT4Democracy in East Africa: February 2012 News

Monitoring Public Service Delivery in Northern Uganda

The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) this February continued with its awareness campaigns on good governance and effective service delivery in Northern Uganda. During the Voluntary Social Accountability Committee (VSAC) meetings held to report on poor service delivery in the districts, discussions were dominated by the issue of poor school governance. Participants reported that some primary schools remained closed for up to three weeks after the start of the new school term. For others, due to insufficient space, pupils of different classes were combined in a single teaching room, while poor teacher housing facilities meant that teachers shared accommodation with students. Poor sanitation was also reported. These problems have been reported by WOUGNET to the school management and local district education officials.

WOUGNET also conducted citizen journalism capacity building workshops in Amuru and Gulu districts. Participants were introduced to the Ushahidi platform and the use of blogs and the mobile phone (beyond voice) to report and access information on prevailing poor service delivery in the districts.

Meanwhile, patients continue to experience long delays in service delivery in health centres in the northern districts of Lira and Oyam. The installation of Transparency International (TI) Uganda’s field office call centre in Lira is due to commence in early March. A contract has been signed with one of the country’s telecommunications service providers to install voice services after the communications hardware installation. Patients are expected to be able to log voice complaints about health service delivery through TI Uganda’s toll free helpline by mid march.


Researching Mobile Governance in Kenya

At the end of January, iHub Research conducted usability tests on three governance-related mobile apps in use in Kenya. The apps were:  Mzalendo, a blog platform for holding Members of Parliament accountable and rating their work; Msema Kweli, an android-based application for tracking community development funds; and Huduma, a mobile phone short code platform for citizens to voice the difficulties they encounter using government services.

The methodology for the usability tests included focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with different stakeholder groups – researchers, developers, and the public. Various indicators and functionality measures were determined. iHub Research’s initial findings indicate that there are gaps between the technology and direct citizen-leader interaction. In addition, participants raised privacy and security concerns, and data protection issues. The full results are being documented and will be shared at a stakeholder workshop during March.

SMS for Human Rights in Tanzania

The Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) has commenced the development of its SMS complaints system. An internal awareness seminar was conducted to update the 220 CHRAGG employees across the country on how the system will work. The Commission is seeking support for short code provision from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. Furthermore, meetings are scheduled for March with the country’s telecommunications companies to solicit partnerships.

Promoting Citizen Participation in Uganda

The survey analysis of the knowledge, attitudes, and needs of citizen groups and local governments in western Uganda regarding the utility, effectiveness and security of ICT tools used in participating in governance processes, is complete. The survey undertaken by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in Kabarole and Kasese districts involved focus group discussions and individually administered questionnaires. During April, CIPESA will conduct surveys in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country in order to provide a comparative analysis.

In addition to the Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative (BROSDI) and Kasese eSociety, CIPESA has entered into a memorandum of understanding with another grassroots based centre – the Gulu-based Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC). The media club works to revitalise the media terrain within the region and helps to catalyse reconciliation, resettlement, and recovery in a region that experienced two decades of armed conflict.

Furthermore, in February, CIPESA commenced an assessment of Uganda’s readiness for Open Government Data.

Engaging Grassroots Networks in Human Rights Monitoring

ICT support equipment has been acquired for the 10 grassroots Human Rights Networks (HURINETS) the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has partnered with. The equipment includes computers, power back-up systems, and cameras with which the HURINETs will report information and work from the ground into the crowd sourcing and civic participation website KHRC is developing. HURINET members have successfully set up Facebook and Twitter accounts which they are currently using to discuss human rights, governance, and service delivery issues.

The HURINETs will in March, be trained in basic ICT skills to access and share information for more effective results in their work.