Thursday, 27 March 2014

Advocacy Forums continue to demand and advocate for improved service delivery using appropriate ICT tools in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

ToroDev has highly been involved in mentoring and supporting the initiation and strengthening the newly formed advocacy forums to champion the monitoring of service delivery and democratic engagements through the use of appropriate ICT tools in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region. The advocacy forums are community’s own initiated initiatives meant to sustainably monitor and advocate for improved service delivery, and demand accountability from the local leaders.
Rural monitors during on line training at ToroDev Offices

Advocacy forum members of Better Life Youths Forum in Butiiti Sub County, Kyenjojo District have tasked their local leaders to extend water services and a latrine to Butiiti Health Center III. “For a long time, the Sub County has been allocating money for water extension but no action has been done. The health unit holds over 150 patients who survive on dirty water from the well. This has caused stinking especially in the labor ward because patients cannot wash their beddings and clothing. The health unit also lacks a toilet and patients have resorted to using the surrounding bushes as toilets which is likely to cause cholera outbreak. We went ahead to approach the Chairperson LC III of Butiiti Sub County Mr. Amanya Joseph about the issue and he assured us that the Sub County was soliciting funds to solve the problem”, said James Kisembo, a forum member.

Members of Katebwa People’s Forum have also been involved in advocating for better service delivery in their Sub County especially in the roads sector. “We have been struggling with transport due to the broken bridge of River Nsongya that connects to all the villages in the Sub County. This has highly been affecting our businesses since 2013 when the bridge was washed away by the heavy rains. With the help of ToroDev, we went on radio and shared the issue during the ‘Listeners Forum’ Program and appealed to the local leaders to intervene. This caused pressure on the leaders and as I talk, planning of the construction has started”, said Muhindo Ezra, leader of Katebwa People’s Forum in Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole District.

Atura Nagyayo Advocacy Forum in Kakabara Sub County, Kyegegwa District has also gone ahead to mobilize the community in improving and maintaining the services provided. “We mobilized a community meeting on 23rd February 2014 to discuss about the construction of the broken bridge of Kikuba. During the meeting, community members made a budget of Shs.5,000,000(five million shillings) for its construction and the budget was submitted to the Sub County, District and office of the Member of Parliament who responded positively. Community members were also requested to contribute Shs.3,000(three thousand shillings) per male person towards the construction and as I talk,  one million has already been collected and we are expecting the local engineers to start constriction at the end of March 2014”, said Musinguzi Mesaki, the secretary of the forum.

However there is need to conduct more sensitization meetings with members of the rural advocacy forums/rural monitors to empower them with skills to skillfully engage with their local leaders for improved service delivery.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

“Women move as early as 2:00am in the darkness to look for clean water”, Byamukama Robert

On 20th March 2014, local people of Kyaburungi Parish, Hakibaale Sub County in Kabarole District showed their outcry over the poor service delivery in their parish. “Our women move as early as 2:0am to look for clean water, Kyaburungi Health Center has no water tank and patients beg water from the neighboring homes”, said Byamukama Robert, “We are not satisfied with the policies that are being passed by parliament”, said Nuwamanya Gideon, “We don’t have antenatal care at our health center, pregnant women move as far as Kibasi Health Center which is also not reliable”, said Margret Batembuzi, “Our health center is always closed over the week end because the staffs don’t work”, said Swaibu Mugisa, “As youths, we have not benefited from government programs”, said Kyamuhangire Elly.
Members of Hakibaale Committed Citizens for Better Services

The people’s issues were run on Better FM radio on 23rd March 2014 during the ‘Listener’s Forum’ 8:00-10:00pm for the local leaders intervention. The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Rwaheru Gilbert, the Chairperson of Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery in Kicwamba Sub County, Kabarole District.

During the discussion, Mr. Gilbert indicated how the forum had brought a lot of positive impacts towards improving service delivery. “As members of Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery, we have raised issues affecting the community to the local leaders. We held a community meeting with the Member of Parliament, Mr. Kagwera Steven to address the issues in the NAADS sector. Such issues included pests that were infecting people’s crops like tomatoes. We also went ahead to sensitize farmers about how they can control banana bacteria wilt”.

Mr. Gilbert also went ahead to discuss how their work of advocacy had improved the roads and health sectors in Kicwamba Sub County. “Our roads were so poor and impassable during the rainy season which had affected our businesses, but through our advocacy activities, we organized the community to make a peaceful demonstration and as I talk, many of the roads have been worked on. Through radio programs, we were also able to lobby for a mid wife at Kicwamba Health Center III and Harugongo Health Center II was also promoted to Health Center III. However, some of the roads are still in a sorry state such as Kikonge road”.

Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins and using the programs face book page called the ‘Listener’s Forum’ to raise their issues and concerns. “We are ready to make change of our dormant leaders in the coming elections of 2016”, said Kajungu from Bunyangabu County, “Advocacy radio programs have awakened the local leaders and increased the ability to demand and engage leaders for better service delivery, reduce embezzlement and corruption among the local leaders”, said John Bosco from Bufunjo Sub County in Kyenjojo District.

The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Mukonyezi Wilfred.

Discussing of the electeral reforms

On 22nd March 2014, penalists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the extention of the national elections to 2021 and what consiquences it will bring to the country. “In the Ugandan Constitution, Article 77 stipulates that parliamenet may extend the life of parliament for a period not exceeding six months at a time where there exists a state of war or a state of emergency which would prevent a normal general election from being held”, said Miss. Basemera Nesta. The penalist was discussing on ToroDev’s supported 'Orukurato Program', a 2hr weekly live radio discussion that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday(8:00-10:00pm).
Miss Basemera went ahead to indicate how some local and political leaders have gone ahead to move motions to parliament for their own mutual benefits. “Some leaders pass these policies so as to meet their own mutual benefits. Such leaders should not make decisions for the people and a referendum should be conducted for the local people to vote between holding the national election and extending it”.

The live radio discussion was also attended by Hon. Businge Prosper, the District LC V Councilor of West Division in Fort Portal Municipality Kabarole District and Hon. Mashuhuko Joseph , District LC V Councilor, Kabarole District. 

During the discussion, Hon Prosper indicated his opposition towards the electeral reforms. “As a political leader, I don’t support the extension of the national elections because an election helps the local people to check the imbalances over their leaders. The leaders who are incompitent are brought out of office and those who have performed are either given another term of office or replaced. Leaders who are passing this mortion have done nothing for their people and want to use it as a way of retaining their positions in offices”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mashuhuko appealed to the local people to stop being bribed by leaders for votes. “Voters should stop the habbit of voting basing on what they have received from the contestants like money, sugar, salt, among others. Such a habbit has brought people who are corrupt, incompitent and non performing into leadership which has affected service delivery in our country”.

Local listeners also participated in the live radio discusion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “The election should be left out because even those in power haven't performed anything”, said Keneddy from Busoro Sub County, “I don’t support the extention of the national election because it will disrupt the country’s peace”, said Omuhereza from Ntoroko District, “Power belongs to the people so the local leaders cannot make choice for us”, said Kazira from Kasese, “The election has no use because it hasn’t helped us”, said Mugisa Joseph from Bukuuku Sub County, “The poor performance of leaders is what is causing the electeral reforms”, said Andrew from Mukubo.

The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto.

ToroDev emphasizes accountability at CAADP meeting

ToroDev has appealed to the African Union (AU) to put more emphasis in advocating for improved transparency and accountability policies in the agricultural sector of its partner countries at the recently concluded 10th Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) meeting in Durban, South Africa on 19th – 21st March, 2014. ToroDev was represented by the Media and Communications Officer, Solomon Akugizibwe.

“We need you (AU) to push our African governments institute better policies which will reduce corruption like improved access to government information, more accountability by leaders and improved participation of local citizens in government planning, budgeting and monitoring agricultural service delivery.” Said Solomon Akugizibwe.
Solomon Akugizibwe speaking at the CAADP meeting

Solomon also advocated for financial literacy empowerment among African farmers to ensure improved decision making in savings, investments, recording keeping and credit access to ensure progress in agricultural sector modernization and hence improved livelihoods.

In Uganda, agricultural sector employs over 80 percent of the population and contributes a big chunk to Uganda’s economy but receives less than 5 percent of the government budget allocation which is far below the Maputo Declaration of 10 percent. The agricultural sector especially NAADS has also been marred by corruption and misuse of public funds. In 2013, according to Transparency International, Uganda was listed among the 17 most corrupt countries in the world.

The resolutions of the 10th CAADP meeting will be presented to the agriculture ministerial meeting in May 2014 and finally to the African presidents and heads of government meeting in June 2014 where they will be adopted and incorporated in the policies of their governments.    

The CAADP Partnership Platform Meeting is an annual continental forum that brings together CAADP stakeholders from across the continent to dialogue on progress of implementation and build consensus on specific actions to be undertaken to advance Africa’s agriculture.

The 10th CAADP PP, was organised under the theme “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”.  

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

ToroDev participates in Integrated Communication Plat form work shop

ToroDev participated in a two days work shop (17th -18th March 2014) about the Integrated Communication Platform Campaign that was organized by the Ministry of Health in partnership with Communication for Healthy Communities to highlight the role of the use of appropriate ICT tools like FM radio stations to improve health service delivery. ToroDev was represented by Kogere Recheal who is the Research and documentation officer.
Participants during the training

Kogere appealed to the technical staff in the health sector in different districts to always participate in radio accountability programs rather than leaving them for politicians. “ToroDev holds two radio talk shows on HITS FM and Better FM radios that involve rural youths and women, civil society, local and central government leaders, technocrats, among others on accountability and service delivery for improved advocacy. However, technical staff never make use of the plat forms, even when they are invited, they fail to turn up. I therefore, appeal to public health providers to make use of these plat forms so as to enhance accountability through communication for better health service delivery”.

The workshop was aimed at introducing the integrated campaign platform that will help to implement existing health communication strategies, validate national level platforms with local/regional insights and perspectives and enlisting of the champions per district/region, who will support implement the campaign platform.  The project is a five year USAID project that will support the ministry to design nationwide communication interventions in the areas of HIV/AIDS, malaria, nutrition, maternal and child health, family planning and tuberculosis.

During the workshop, officials from ministry of health indicated the benefits of the platform. “Once the platform is implemented, it will help us to operationalise the existing strategies and policies, it will focus on the audience/local people instead of the diseases, enhance coordination and collaboration between service providers and the implementers and link community structures through influencers/champions.” Said Lillian from the Ministry of Health.

Kabarole DHO adds, “The approach will provide a basis for looking beyond individuals to their social context, addressing gender and other social norms that prevent people from changing their behavior for the better. The approach will also provide a basis for integrating and packaging health issues and messages so they are relevant and motivating the local people.”

Participants from the different districts were also able to fully participate and advocate for improved health service delivery, “Uganda has good policies, but when it comes to implementing them, only 10% is done.” Said Kaziya from Kamwenge District. “The idea of forming the integrated platform will help us to improve livelihoods basing on the different life stages such as adolescents, youths, young couples, among others.” Said Fred from Kyegegwa District.  “The introduction of the integrated campaign platform will help us in implementing the existing health communication strategies.” Said Annet from Kasese Disrict. “More sensitization should be done about the plat form through forming more workshops and community meetings at district and sub county level.” Said Bwambale from Kasese District.


ToroDev staff and two rural monitors attend a two days training work shop on Financial Literacy

On 18th – 19th March 2014, the Monitoring and Evaluation officer ToroDev Amanya Shila and two advocacy forum members from Katebwa and Mugusu Sub Counties attended a training at Mountains of the Moon University in Kabarole District on Financial Literacy. The training acted as a learning opportunity for ToroDev staff and the project beneficiaries to learn issues related to saving, managing finances, investing wisely, choosing where to get a loan, planning wisely with money, among others. The trained staff would use these skills to train other staffs and other members of Advocacy Forums through physical meetings and on radio.
Uganda's Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka

During the training, participants were informed about what financial literacy is all about. “Financial literacy is the ability to make appropriate decisions in managing personal finances. To be financially literate, you have to know important things like saving your money, opening an account with financial institutions so that you can save your money, accessing financial services in form of loans and other services in order to grow in business”, said Priscilla Tibbs, lecturer Mountains of the Moon University.

The training also equipped the participants with different skills of managing their finances. “I have attained skills of saving from my earnings, investing and the importance of making budgets”, said Shilla Amanya, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, ToroDev, “I have acquired skills of record keeping, how to make spending decisions, how to spend wisely, the importance of making investment plans, among others”, said Tibenda Steven, the Secretary of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, Kabarole District.

Meanwhile, participants also promised to share the attained skills with other local people and leaders in their Sub Counties. “As a leader of Katebwa Advocacy Forum, I shall use the attained skills and knowledge to sensitize other people on issues of financial planning and how the plan can help one to decide on how to achieve more and using money to achieve goals”, said Muhindo Ezra, the Chairperson of Katebwa Advocacy Forum in Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole District.