Friday, December 18, 2009

Adding a mobile component to the e-society pilot in Kasese

HIVOS and its partners in the Rwenzori Region, namely KALI, IWDP, GHFRD and RIC-NET (working together under the name Rwenzori Consortium for Civic Competence, RWECO), are implementing a project titled “Enhancing Civic Competence to influence Local Government Planning and Feedback Processes in Rwenzori region”.

The overall objective of the project is “Making government structures affordable, transparent and efficient” (PEAP, 2004).

In relation to this bigger framework,RWECO in partnership with IICD and HIVOS have decided to run an e-society pilot in on one of the three districts (Kasese District). The project will use ICT in innovative ways in order to achieve the overall objective by adding a mobile component.

There are a number of identified challenges in using mobile phones to communicate and to access and disseminate information in Kasese. The most profound seems to be:
• Funding and affordability (total cost of ownership for users, innovative business models and billing plans for service delivery).
• Infrastructure (limited network coverage, network quality, electricity issues).
• Gender issues (men/women ownership and control).
• privacy issues
• Different networks, different tariffs.
• Surrounding supporting systems (trouble shooting, capacity building, user uptake, language , literacy issues, and customer care).
• Content (creation, management and relevance).
• Mistrust between citizens and the local governments, especially those at higher levels.
• Other challenges (segmentation, market strategies, lack of documentation and collaboration).
Here are some concrete examples on how mobile phones could add an extra value in the e-society:

Bulk SMS seems to be a key solution in e-society and can be used for sending out local news, alerts, announcements and reminders about upcoming meetings, events, radio shows, training etc.

It could also be used for sending out results from meetings, studies etc. An interactive bulk SMS program is preferred so that users can react on the content, for example challenge the agenda and come with suggestions, ideas and concerns.

Dedicated hotline (voice, SMS) for whistle blowing where people anonymously can alert (not report) on corrupt practices among civil servants and companies etc (see BungeSMS)

SMS quiz for civic education and awareness on good governance issues (see TextToChange). Voters’ education through quiz is another idea.

SMS polls to collect citizen opinions and priorities and forward them to local government, parliamentarians, media etc.

Mobile surveys and data collection for evaluation and monitoring purposes (see Episurveyor).

Kasese is surrounded by national parks and nature reserves and there are many conflicts between animals and farmers (animals are eating the farmers crop).
A warning system like one developed to track elephant movements in Amboseli, Kenya, could be used.

Public access solutions, for example using MTN's Village Phone Operators as a way improve service delivery and increase participation. It might be cost-effective to use smart phones and printers and notice boards as a way to reach out in areas where phone ownership is small.

Monday, December 14, 2009

45 pupils defiled and pregnant

About 45 pupils defiled and pregnant in the ten sub counties of Kasese district in the last three months.
Reasons for the above cases as put forward by respondents from the respective schools

Long distances traveled by pupils to school exposing them to defilers.

Parents sending their young girls to trading centre during late hours.

Poor relationship between parents-teacher-pupils where by parents does not allow teachers to punish their pupils in case of misbehavior.

Weak enforcement officers to punish those who defile the pupils. police sometimes do not handle these cases professionally leading to defilers being set free after sometime.

Interference of some politicians in the cases of defilement who encourage parents to discuss issues at their home without reporting them to police.
For full details of the list contact

Saturday, November 28, 2009

RICNET meets with World Wide Web Foundation

It was a historical moment at the CTPH Tel-centre in the Queen Elizabeth National park when Mr. Murugahara John Silco-Director of RICNET, met with a team from World Wide Web Foundation. The team included Sir Tim Berners-Lee (founder/inventor of WWW), Rosemary Leith (the Director) and Stephane Boyera. Also present was Mr. Lawrence Zikusoka of CTPH and representatives from the local community served with the Tel-centres.

The World Wide Web Foundation is a new international grassroots non-profit founded by inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, that seeks to advance the Web and empower people.
The foundation leads transformative programs to advance the Web as a medium that empowers people to bring about positive change.

By funding research, technology development, and outreach, the Web Foundation strives to enable all people to share knowledge, access services, conduct commerce, participate in good governance, and communicate in creative ways, so they can improve their lives and communities.

RICNET, which is a network of information centres (Tel-centres) in the Rwenzori region wishes to have a close cooperation with WWW Foundation to boost it’s support in the use of ICT and the Web to share relevant, timely information on public health, agricultural best practices, pests & Diseases, Crop markets, environmental protection and weather patterns, and early warning system on disasters with in the community.

The network also ensures that it bridges the Digital Divide that exists between the rich and the rural poor by providing ICT equipments and training to the rural community centres.

RIC-NET is working with district local governments in the region to enhance information sharing among the different stakeholders in the district.

A case in point is the revival and updating of districts’ websites e.g. , offer relevant trainings in web 2.0 tools and other packages, support districts with e-society centres (that include a district civil society organisations’ (CSO) portal, public sms platform and ICT equipment).

For more information, you can visit , or

I support the Web Foundation and invite you to join me!

Kasese District starts an e-society Centre

"This is the way to easy information sharing among district staff, the CSOs, the development partners and citizens”. This echoes the words spoken by a member of Kasese CSOs after a brief ceremony of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Kasese District Local Government and Rwenzori Information Centres Network (RICNET) on 26th Nov.2009 in the office of the Deputy District Chief Administrative Officer.
Within the spirit of Public private partnership operationalized by the district in 2006, RICNET is to kick-start the setting up of the District Information Desk that will be the ICT hub for Kasese e-society.
The e-society answers the issue of inadequate access to timely and relevant information, a key aspect that limits citizens' effective participation in the planning and monitoring processes in the district.
with RIC-NET's support, the district is to get a full internet connected resource centre (District Information Desk) comprising of twelve (12)computers, a multipurpose photocopier ( printer and scanner) and other tools, all valued at about Shs. 24 million.
The district will provide the physical space for the resource centre (under the District information office), equip the room with furniture, and ensure equipment safety, optimal use and sustainability.
The e-society establishment entails aspect as: training District local government staff and some CSO staff ( working in thematic areas of: water, Education, Health, human rights and good governance) in the use of information sharing platforms such as d-groups, blogs, wikis and other web 2.0 tools; Kasese CSO portal enabling CSOs to upload/share the information available at their specific offices, and a mobile SMS technology platform enabling the citizens to express their opinion/ feedback on pertinent governance issues to the District leadership.
The 24-months agreement, signed by the Deputy CAO Kasese, Willy Bataringaya and the Director RIC-NET, John Murugahara Silco follows a series of partnership activities between Kasese district and RIC-NET, such as a round-table dialogue meeting in July 2009, updating the district website (, and training some staff in web 2.0 tools, several weekly radio talk shows and thematic dialogue meetings.
The e-society is implemented with financial support from the European Union (EU) and HIVOS; and with technical support from IICD.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ICT Self Neeeds Assessment

The Civil Society Organisation in Kasese, with Rwenzori Information Centres Network (RIC-NET) as the activity lead agency, and the Kasese District Local Government under the policy frame work of Public Private Partnership(PPP)are implementing an e-society project in Kasese; a platform that will facilitate effective information sharing among the CSOs,Citzens and Kasese local Government.

In order for RIC-NET to tailor the upcoming training intervention to best suit the needs of the participants (CSO staff and KDLG staff), a needs assessment form has been formulated and can now be accessed from are kindly requested to complete the Skills and Training Needs Assessment Form now found at the District Information officer's Desk, at Rural information centres in the District (BIC,ORDISEF,BRIC, RWETEL) or click on ICT assessment on URL

The form is not intended to test or judge your level of skill, but rather to provide the training and curriculum designer with direct personal input regarding the areas of relevant (ICT) skills in which participants feel they need assistance.

Please complete the form and return it to Training Coordinator (Mr. John Thawite for KDLG or M John Silco and Balikenga Timothy from RIC-)as soon as possible but not later than 27th Nov 2009.

Tick the option that apply to you or write what is required in the space provide. Summarize your ideas to fit in the space provided when required.

Thank you very much in advance.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

E-society activities going on well

Several consultation have been going on on what can be priority for implementation of the district e-society.

The e-society activities planned for kasese District are going well but implementation will be gradual and some times sequential.

1.There is a ICT needs assessment going from mid November to find out what ICT capacity the CSOs have and their gaps. trained will be done in second phase based on the assessment.

2.The District CSO portal is being built using the ELGG technology.This will enable CSO to update individual their own page or upload information any time.

3.The updating of the District website is on going.

4.Setting up of the District Information Desk is in the process.

5.After signing the MOU with the District authorities, some ICT equipments will be supplied to the District.

There is District d-group (a platform for people to share ideas) if you wish to join send request to

E- Governance project kicks off

Local government, NGOs, church and IT leaders from the Kasese district in Uganda have launched a project to help give civil society organisations more influence over government planning and development. The International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) will help manage the ICT component of this major project funded by the European Union.

IICD facilitated a roundtable meeting to launch the Kasese District civil society project and to kick-start the project, IICD's first in Western Uganda. Project participants met to identify what information they need and how they will share it. The group agreed that much of the information was already there, but it was often poorly documented and not made available. The project aims to help both local government and civil organisations build skills to produce quality information on their activities. This will be accessible through the web, regular meetings and trained information officers. Currently, there is very little information exchange between the two groups. NGOs, for example, have little access to government information to enable them to play a role in planning. Local governments need to build their capacity to produce useful information and make it available externally. The project is run by the Rwenzori Consortium for Civic competence (RWECO). The project focuses on the sectors Health, Water and Education.

Kasese Deputy RDC on HIV/AIDS

The Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Kasese, has challenged orgnisations dealing with HIV/AIDS to fight stigma, rejection and discrimination that is being inflicted on people living with the disease."HIV/AIDS should be fought with mercy, love and pity for the infected and affected persons," he said.

Isingoma was recently closing a two-day HIV/AIDS annual partnership forum organised by Kasese district and funded by the Ministry of Local Government in conjunction with the Uganda AIDS Commission. The partnership forum took place at Virina Gardens in Kasese town and drew participants from local government, the civil society and the private sector.

Isingoma challenged the participants to strengthen partnership for service providers to address the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The main facilitator from the Uganda AIDS Commission, who is also the District Health Officer, Kisoro, Dr Assay Ndizihiwe, reported that medical male circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV.

"Uncircumcised men are partly responsible for the increasing cases of cervical cancer among women. According to the Kasese Distinct HIV/AIDS Focal Person, John Thawite, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Kasese district stands at 11.2% from testing sites in the district.

Thawite said though Kasese belongs to the western region whose general prevalence is 6.9%, there is need for a district-specific sero-prevalence survey to ascertain the specifics of the HIV infections. He said the forum was organised to strengthen partnership in the fight against the pandemic adding that the fight was the responsibility of every stakeholder regardless of region, race, sex, political or religious inclination.