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