Monday, January 30, 2012
28th/01/2012 is a day that will never be forgotten by the residents of Kisinga Sub-County), Bukonzo East Constituency, Kasese District. On this day Citizens witnessed and participated in the launch of a Sub-County “Community Parliament”- a forum where citizens discuss their community development challenges and come up with community based solutions alongside their Local Governments’ authorities.
Important to note is that a Series of activities were conducted ahead of the launch; training of CBO’s on Citizens’ Manifesto popularization and formation of a Community Social Forum (CSF), mobilization of Kisinga Sub County residents and the training of Kabirizi Growers Cooperative Society; the Cooperative Society was trained to support the formation of a CSF and Citizens Manifesto popularization. Finally Good Hope also saw to the election of the Forum’s leadership by Kisinga Sub-County residents. The elected leaders included the Speaker and Deputy, Secretary/Clerk to the Forum and Vice, Treasurer and Vice, Minister in Charge of Education, Minister in Charge of Health Services, Minister in Charge of Agriculture and Minister in Charge of Gender issues. On the same day of the elections the residents present scheduled the date for the CSF launch as on 28th/01/2012 at Kiburara Health Centre II in Kagando Parish.
On 28th Jan around 300 people turned up for the launch, these included farmers, CSOs like KALI, Civil and Political leaders like the Local Council three Chairperson, Sub County District Councilor, District Youths Councilor, Sub County O.C Police and other citizens stretching from all corners of the Sub County. During the launch participants were sensitized on the Citizens’ Manifesto and the concept of Community Social Forum through speeches, Music, Dance and Drama presentations.
On this day, the CSF leadership commenced work by conducting a session on the challenges of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in the Sub County. The session that was moderated by the speaker and the Minister In-Charge of Education invited the audience to react to the motion presented to them. The session challenged the local leaders present to table motions in their Local Councils on building a strong foundation at primary school level by introducing Nursery school section at all primary schools in the Sub County.
Speaking at the function the Local Leaders present commended RWECO/Good Hope for this initiative arguing that this was the beginning of a strong community structure where citizens will from time to time engage their leaders on Good Governance and development concerns in the Sub County. The LCIII Chairperson and O.C-Police for example pledged total support to the forum and requested Good Hope to continue involving them in such functions.
Another Social Forum (which actually will be first since this was just a sample) was scheduled for 25th/ 02/ 2012 in Nsenyi parish at Kisinga Primary School. This forum is expected to address the service delivery challenges in the Health sector in the Sub County. (RIC-NET supported this activity with documentation expertise).
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Hurriedly they walked as if to catch up with something very precious that they wouldn’t dare to lose. One by one, young and old, women and men all gathered under the mango trees that offered a beautiful shade and breeze to its inhabitants.
Slowly the number swelled, mothers hurriedly breastfed and made simple makeshift beds for their babies so they wouldn’t disturb, while the men artistically arranged the venue for the meeting. With peaceful faces they all sat murmuring greetings to each other waiting for the set time 3:00pm. And finally the Clock struck 3:00pm, thirty two out of the expected fourty six people had gathered so far. Members prayed and sang the National and Toro Kingdom Anthems; it was now time for the Citizens’ Parliament, call it Neighborhood Assembly if you like.
IWDP had on this day 18.01.12 organized an assembly for her first group called Nyankwanzi People’s Voice. (RIC-NET supported this activity with documentation expertise).
Chaired by the group’s Chairperson Mr. Madhivani Moses, members (who included teachers, farmers, business persons, students and politicians) discussed issues that affect them in their communities in the sectors of NAADs, Health and Education. Several service delivery challenges were raised and a number of solutions to them were also suggested;
Procurement and supply of poor quality enterprises; members noted that at the inception of the program, the community was informed that NAADs was going to introduce new and better breeds of animals and crops unfortunately nothing has changed, all enterprises are procured locally from the same old breeds. Accordingly the spread of crop pests and diseases has remained a challenge. Sharing her experience one, Hadija revealed that the NAADs banana suckers she received in 2010 came with Banana bacterial wilt that has since eaten up her entire plantation, “I regret why I accepted these suckers because they brought me diseases that I didn’t have before…”
Lack of adequate knowledge on the selection of beneficiaries and enterprises was also noted amongst the community. This was revealed in the various complaints by the members like the neglect of the poor and disadvantaged persons and their appeal for different enterprises like coffee.
Lack of supervision and follow up of NAADs beneficiaries by the NAADs officials, supply of inadequate enterprises viza viz the beneficiaries prepared land and limited involvement/ interest of some community members in groups.
Members appealed for more sensitization of the community on the NAADs program and the change of strategy of the supply of enterprises from group to individual. Explaining this one Jackson Mugarura asserted that the supply should target individuals and that Government could put measures to either arrest or punish those individuals who will not have utilized the enterprise as expected “I personally believe that this would increase the number of beneficiaries and also ensure uniformity in the program”
Commenting on these concerns the area Councilor to the Sub County Hon. Rubongoya Atuha thanked members for raising such pertinent challenges which he pledged to share with Council in their next Council Session. He appreciated the fact that NAADs has a number anomalies, although on the other hand, the community is to blame for the poor performance of the project; Hon. Rubongoya explained that there is still continued limited ownership of the enterprises and the program by the community and limited will and boldness in holding their leaders accountable. He informed the meeting that service delivery is two way- demand driven, and as such the community should be able to walk to the offices of their leaders and demand for information on issues of concern to them.
Several issues were also raised about Nyankwanzi HCIII, these ranged from inadequate staffing, poor relationship between health workers and patients, frequent drug stock outs especially septrines, continued failure to follow first come, first serve basis when handling patients, lack of confidentiality by health workers in the HIV/AIDs department- they gossip about their patients in the community, and keeping of patients for long hours yet they send them away at the end of the day without drugs. Wholesomely members appealed for immediate intervention of the Sub County and relevant development partners into the appalling situation at the HC.
Members regretted to note that the Sub County was still doing badly in terms of academic performance; other challenges included lack of staff houses at schools, high pupil and teacher absenteeism, inadequate facilities in schools, inadequate teacher salaries and inadequate parents’ contribution/support towards education programs among others. About this, members appealed to government to consider increasing teachers’ salaries and construction of staff houses at schools if their performance must be improved. Commenting on these concerns, Hon. Rubongoya equally challenged the parents to find it within their priorities to send their children to school effective 30.01.12 and to support education programs.
Summing up the discussions, one of the discussants Mugarura Jackson thanked IWDP for this initiative of bringing citizens together to deliberate on issues affecting them, he revealed that he is optimistic that this initiative is going to cause positive change in Nyakwanzi Sub County. He however challenged the political leaders to use/maintain the energy, time and money they invest in soliciting for votes during elections when offering services to the community.
Conclusively it should be noted that this was a practical forum; active participation of the community members was witnessed/realized. From this I learnt one thing; that the solutions to development challenges are within us- the community, and to this bottom- up planning needs to be revamped if effective and quick development must be attained.
I feel compelled to thank IWDP and all the other members that have already started implementing the lessons they learnt from their study visit to Kakamego-Kenya in 2011 about Neighborhood Assemblies. I am optimistic that these assemblies will facilitate increased community participation in development programs and cause consequent improved service delivery in the community.
Neighborhood Assemblies, way to go!
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Community members of Nyakiyumbu subcounty in Kasese District on Monday 9th 2012 witnessed the first formation of the ekyangahanda kyabataka which would be translated as the citizens ’ forum. The activity was organized under the citizens manifesto in action project as a platform where citizens would regularly meet and inform leaders of their development concerns.
Through the Rwenzori consortium for civic competence RWECO, a consortium of Rwenzori information Centers Network (RIC-NET), Integrated women Development program, (IWDP), karambi action for life improvement (KALI) and Good hope foundation for rural development (GHFRD). Karambi Action for life improvement organized the function that led to a full house attendance at the kalongoghire catholic church, Nyakiyumbu subcounty among the participants were KALI & RWECO staff, CSO representatives, religious leaders, community members, the community development officer, the sub county chief and LCIII chairperson
Two staff of RIC-NET participated in the meeting where they documented the proceedings of the day.
According to the Executive Director KALI Ms. Katusabe Beatrice, the organization identified the Ndongo anti poachers association as the community based organization through which the ekyangahanda kyabataka or the citizens’ social forum would be promoted as the citizens will have meetings on issues concerning them and task leaders to address their concerns.
Among the priority concerns raised by the participants that need to be addressed by the leaders were water, roads, sustainability of the Citizens social forum, market access for the farmer produce of which they agreed to invite the respective leaders as the sub county agriculture officer, the secretary for works at the subcounty. The participants also managed to elect Mr. Bwambale Zerubabel as the speaker for the Citizens social forum by the end of the day.