Thursday, August 30, 2012


Learning is a continuous process and without new innovations and strategies then less impact and relevance should be expected in this fast moving global world. In the bid, to catch up with the ICT trends and to also make RIC-NET’s interventions more relevant in the region, RIC-NET Executive Director, Murugahara John Silco and Information Officer, Alice Mbayahi visited Twaweza (a CSO) in Kenya and Tanzania to learn from their experiences on the use of on-line platforms (Huduma) in amplifying citizens’ voices in service delivery. Twaweza was chosen because of it’s reputable experience and results in the use of the ICTs and citizens’ participation in social accountability.  The learning visit that was conducted between 08.12.12 to 15.08.12 introduced the staff to new innovative ICT communication platforms used in Tanzania and Kenya.

In Tanzania and Kenya the team met with Justice Rutenge and Ali Hassan respectively. They shared the different ICT platforms and strategies that Twaweza uses to engage the citizens in social accountability.  First, they shared that Twaweza doesn’t directly relate with the community but rather uses five established networks; media - radio, TV and phones, fast moving consumer goods like pens, books and gum boots and already established institutions dealing with large numbers of people like the teachers unions and religious institutions. 
Explaining the use of frequent moving consumer goods, Justice and Hassan asserted that they work with the companies that manufacture these goods to include a particular message that they want to send out in the goods, although the type of goods used also depends on who they are targeting at a time.
meeting Twaweza Staff in Nairobi in HIVOS offices
Other goods and channels that Twaweza is also planning to explore is the transport sector; playing video documentaries in the buses and lobbying the airlines to make larger tickets that will carry their messages on them.  According to Justice, the channels in question are used so that the consumer/citizen can get information at their convenience without having to hustle looking for it.
Explaining their work with the media, they noted that Twaweza signs media framework agreements demanding that they –media tailor their reporting and programs to community related news stories, and improving the quality of news by being people/community centered and not the usual stories the media runs based on prominent personalities only. Similary, the media is tasked to give media alerts to Twaweza on any interesting and important community related stories for further advocacy.
About the type of information shared, Justice noted that their focus is only in the three sectors of water, health and education. And that the information disseminated to the community is usually packaged in an interesting and challenging way; comparison and stories of change which are largely fictious. This information is usually intended to annoy, challenge the citizen, give them discomfort and task them to think of solutions to the problems raised and also trigger them into action i.e to hold their leaders accountable; this is locally called “citizen agency”.
Hussein shared an example of the messages/information shared with the community; “45% of the children in Kenya drop out of school even after the introduction of free/universal primary education”.  Accordingly Twaweza doesn’t offer solutions, it only provides you with the information that you need to know about your community and possibilities. “We believe that the people understand their problems better and as thus the solutions lay within them” Hussein asserted.
Sharing about the limited impact of the daraja/huduma platform previously used, Justice blamed it on the fact that many people do not love texting or even others do not know how to sms, due to illiteracy. Similarly, the availability of too many short codes gets to confuse the people and they end up not responding to anything when asked to, and lastly, the 350sh charged per sms also demoralized the citizens because it was way too much compared to the usual 45sh charge for other sms. He believes that if the charge is made a little lower than the usual sms fee, then citizens could use this platform more often.
meeting TWAWEZA staff in Dar es Salaam
In addition to this, Justice mentioned the failure to measure the direct impact their information is making in the community as one of the biggest challenges faced; “tracking/monitoring the impact is still a problem, however a survey is yet to be done country wide to establish this” he remarked, while Hussan revealed that she is equally not sure of what messages - negative or positive appeal/provoke the people more?
Other organizations visited were HIVOs and SODNET in Nairobi and Get Real Training in Dar es Salaam. SODNET shared with RIC-NET some ways in which the huduma platform can be made more effective and relevant; Kip and Phillip noted that the first step is building partnerships/public relations with large institutions that offer public services everyday like national water and Local governments. This is geared at gaining their trust and making them understand why huduma and how it can make monitoring the impact of their interventions a lot easier.
Similarly Phillip and Kip suggested that an inception meeting of all key service providers to introduce them to this platform and also create understanding why they need it and how it works could also pave way for its effectiveness.
Talking about their experience with huduma, the duo revealed that in the places where huduma has been understood and embraced, a lot of improvement in assessing the impact of interventions, evidence based reporting, citizen engagement and provision of services to the citizens has been registered. Accordingly today signing of performance contracts for civil servants in Kenya is now based on the use of huduma; “huduma has proven to be a planning, early warning and assessment tool”, they asserted.
From the visit a number of lessons were learnt, these include;
  1. The use of ICT/on-line platforms is one reliable and effective way of reaching and engaging masses fast and easily because a large percentage of citizens have phones, radios and TV sets, on the other hand they are a good channel of amplifying citizens’ voices.
  2. An effective bulk sms platform is one that has a feedback mechanism too; because it is through this that one can receive feedback from or get the opinion of the community. This basically guides interventions and also informs one on the impact of his/her implementation.
  3. Whereas citizens do not send messages because of the fee attached to them, it is not wise to suggest that this fee should be scrapped off so as to have more reporters, because on the other hand the attached fee ushers ownership and attaches value to the platform. Maybe, the fee should be made a little lower than the usual sms rates.
  4. If the functionality of huduma platform is strengthened and fully embraced, worries of limited citizen engagement, evidence based reports and timely reporting will be erased because huduma provides all that with just a click of the button.
In a related development, some recommendations/action points were developed and agreed upon by the visiting team;
   RIC-NET to hold an inception meeting with key stakeholders/service providers that they work with to introduce the huduma concept to them and also strengthen partnerships with them.
  Additionally RIC-NET to consider the printing and sharing of posters about huduma to offer publicity and also create understanding on the platform amongst the users.
Ø  In future, RIC-NET will exploit the strategy of using frequent/fast moving consumer goods because, they reach many people.


The Deputy District Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Oketayot C.  James assured a team of Civil Society Onrganisation under CEW-IT consortium, that the District is willing to embrace the e-society platforms for social accountability.
James, stated that as long as the platform assures verification of the content uploaded, its a good contributions to enabling receiving feedback on service delivery from the citizens to whom the District serves.
This was supported by the District Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Mr. Segawa Godfrey who asked the CSOs to raise awereness about the project from not only the civil servants but the Political leaders and the Citizens who own the District. He preferred that this sensitization should be in local languages and embracing all the media channels.
The CFO asked the District Information officer (DIO) Ms Nakibuuka Stellah to prioritize the e-society components costs such as contribution to website hosting, e-library in her department budget when the CSO contribution ends in December 2014.
On their part, CSO representative led by Ms Rose Nanyonjo from FRHI and Mr. John Silco from RIC-NET assured the District civil servants leaders that their orgaisation commit to develop a dynamic website, e-library, a bulk sms platform, a citizens voice (feedback) platform and support training of the District staff to maintain these platforms. The domain name registrations and hosting charges for all theses platforms will be met by the CSO with support from HIVOS and EU for 24 months. The CSO asked the District to request for the originally Domain name from UCC so as the district identify is continued. At this point a question was asked about the linkage between this project and e-government initiative of the government to which CSO members said that he two projects are complimentary.
Members of the CSO fraternity assured the District that this is part of the project that is enhancing Social Accountability in 25 Districts of the 5 regions in Uganda. The informed meeting that its regional implemented by RWECO, FHRI, ACORD, PAC Uganda and CEFORD in Rwenzori, Central, Teso, Acholi and West Nile regions respectively. All these effort are coordinated by CEW-IT (Citizens Election Watch –IT ) and RIC-NET is the ICT partner of all the consortium members.
The DCAO ended the roundtable discussion appreciating the efforts of CSO towards the District on Social accountability and promised the District leaders will sign the MOU with FHRI when properly printed as the

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The day was bright in Kampala, at 11:20am 24th August, 2012, RWECO staff Jimmy BO and Sheila K make the final look at the presentation which they had prepared, a call from Mr. Howard Tumwine reminding the team about the protocol at UBC. Okay, we are set, Howard confirms that when at the check point at UBC, RWECO was booked in to appear at UBCTV and want to meet the Sales executive manager UBC TV. All was set and we head to UBC TV, Emma Oluka behind  the wheels from CEWIT Office on Spear House. I see the UBC TV building, Emma tells the askari at the entrance that he was dropping the team, but wait a minute, your car must be checked even if you are making a turn. I presented my ID and signed the visitors book, Sheila followed and we were given entrance cards. At the second entrance, we were told to go to flour four where the sales department was located, all went on well as we went through all the protocol meeting the moderator, discussing our presentation  word per word and line by line. She edits and okays the presentation, time check 1:30Pm. We were ushered into the studio, camera set, and all papers in proper position, phones off or in silent, Jimmy whispers to Sheila check your phone again!!!.
On camera now, moderator introduces her self as Emily Mwebaze, the team from RWECO and welcomes the viewers. Asks what is RWECO and what activities are you  involved in?
       Founded in 2008 by four local organisation (KALI, GHFRD, RIDE AFRICA & RICNET
       Registered and operates in 7 districts, 80 sub counties of the Rwenzori Region;
Ms. Emily Mwebazi with Jimmy and Sheila in the UBC TV studios
       RWECO is a civil society watchdog on good governance and is a public policy lobby agency that is committed to contribute to the improvement of the quality of governance in the country by empowering citizens to actively participate in their own governance;
Vision:“RWECO envisages a peaceful, democratic state with prosperous citizenry”.
Mission:“RWECO exists to enhance the civic competence to demand for voice and accountability in governance and service delivery through meaningful and principled engagement between citizens and the state”.
       To enhance civic competence on voice and accountability in the Rwenzori region and beyond so citizens can effectively engage duty bearers and demand for equitable social services.
       To undertake and/or coordinate advocacy activities on major policy issues at regional, national and international level
       To mobilize resources and enhance internal systems for the RWECO members including accountability, public support and sustainability.
       To coordinate capacity building of the RWECO members and constituents in citizen empowerment on constitutionalism, human rights and good governance.
Moderator: what are the main activities:
       Coordination of member activities
       Research and advocacy on governance, human rights, corruption, livelihoods improvement, social justice and related issues
       Building the capacity of the citizenry and civil society
        Networking with CSOs/Government agencies in the promotion of good governance 
 Projects implemented:
       Social Accountability, 3 years project supported by Hivos, and 2 year project supported by Hivos and European Union;
What challenges do you face, Emily (right) asking RWECO staff
       Citizens manifesto in Action suported by Oxfam Novib;
       Improving Quality of Education through enhancing communication skills supported by the Edukans Foundations
Area of operation:
       Rwenzori Region in 7 districts of: Kasese, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko
       80 sub counties for Hivos project, 11 s/c for EU project and 10 for CM
       Target: LG leaders, Vulnerable groups, youth, PWDs, CWDs, poor women and men
Moderator:  what challenges has RWECO faced in implementing these projects:
       The transition from 21 sub counties to 80 sub counties also meant more resources needed and building networks in the new sub counties.
       Sustaining the increasing demand for the RWECO services from both the LGs and the community
       Dependency on donor funding which is shifting due to the economic crisis in the west;
       Political dispensation which has not favored the NGO operation
       Meeting the expectations of the community visa-sa-visa-viz the resources at hand
       Governance issues are a concern of everyone thus need thorough understanding and sharing of information between the different players- for which different players have used this to overstretch their interventions
Moderator: what are the main achievements of RWECO since inception:
       RWECO has facilitated formation of 3 DIPF in Kasese, Bundibugyo now in Kyegegwa
       Strengthened the grassroots structures- Community process facilitators, Ekyaghanda Ekyabataka ( Community social forums)
       Good working relations with the LG leaders in the Rwenzori region and beyond- RWECO invited to the district Naads annual evaluation in Kamwenge and Kasese districts. While in Kamwenge, the farmers reported that about 70% of the Naads funds were administrative costs while only 30% reaches the target group, in Kasese district where the Hon. Dr. Crispus Kiyonga attended the Naads meeting also concurred with the farmers that less was reaching the beneficiaries.
       Pioneered the E-Society concept with the local governments- Piloting in Kasese district and now being replicated in 25 more districts;
       Successfully pioneered the citizens driven election observation in  the 2010/2011 Presidential, Parliamentary and LG elections
       Pioneered the application of ICT based tools in election observation in Uganda after learning from Uchaguzi a Kenyan platform
       Designed programs that bring out grassroots peoples needs and voice them out to the leaders
       Promoted dialogue and co-existence  between  the different political groups in the region
       Mobilised 4 local organisation to form into a consortium in the Rwenzori Region;
       Mobilised LG staff in 7 districts and 80 sub counties who participate and appreciate the mode of operation of RWECO members
       Attracted donor funded for the last 4 years
       Mobilised the community to demand for accountability from Civic leaders-LG and government departments
Time check, 1:59Pm and the Moderator was informed it was time out. Wow, being the first time on camera needed preparation which the moderator did with the camera man. What did RWECO learn from that TV show. RWECO has broken the jinx of paying money to the media instead the national media invited RWECO to pass information to the country. That action has built confidence in what RWECO does in the country. Mind you, UBC TV is under the Presidents Office for which RWECO has established rapport. Mr. Howard Tumwine, the UBC sales Representative in Western Uganda, based in Bundibugyo has pledged to RWECO that come December 2012, he will again invite us to present to the country what we have done during the course of the year. At RWECO we espouse the Public Private Partnership but maintain our independence as we work with Government Departments.
Watch RWECO on  this space for more information:

Jimmy B O


Mr. Keneth Kauta, reads through the Constitution
It was a day of anxiety and ambitions when the political and technical leaders converged at Kyegegwa district Hall to have an induction meeting on the district integrity Forum on 21/08/2012. The invited guest came in one at a time until the resident district Commission, the Chairperson LCV and the Chief Administrative Officer arrived. The meeting was facilitated by  Mr.  Keneth Kauta  Principal Ethics Officer from  The Directorate for Ethics  and Integrity of the Office of the president.
District Charperson Kyegegwa LG, Mr. Norman Birungi,
The Chairperson LCV   Mr. Norman Birungi  noted that, gone are the days when in order   for one to get service  he/she would be asked for “Kitu kidogo"  for example majority of the citizens believe that police bond was  not free and that one cannot get a job without bribing the district officials.  “But how can we ensure that we change the world without ‘ Kitu Kidogo’ for a common person to feel the purpose as to why they voted their leaders”  that  was the concern of majority of the participants who attended the  induction meeting in Kyegegwa District on 21 August, 2012. About 65 participants attended drawn from heads of departments, senior Administrative Assistants, LCIIIs, Town Clerk, Police, religious leaders and CSO representatives.  
The RDC of Kyegegwa district Ms. Nyakwera Baguma noted that the government had lost resources because of  moral decay among leaders yet they hold offices on behalf of citizens.   She emphasized that leaders needed  to conduct themselves in a manner that promotes integrity as well as involve other stakeholders in order to achieve intended purpose. She condemned corruption and thanked RWECO for facilitating and promoting the District Integrity Promotion Forums.
RDC Kyegegwa, Ms. Nyakwera Baguma, giving opening remarks
No wonder the facilitator’s revelation that Uganda had many policies and laws on anti corruption  like the zero tolerance to corruption embraced in the NRM manifesto in 2006, the decentralization policy of  0f 1997, leadership code of conduct, whistle blowers Act 2010, Access to information Act, the public finance and accountability Act, the Audit Act, the Penal Code Act  and  the National Values Policy which will be launched on 9th October 2012, made the participants wonder why there is an increase in corruption  tendencies  in the current government  despite the policies and Laws that criminalizes corruption. ‘I think its not the laws that will solve the issue but we need to rethink our strategy and address the public concern of moral decay and ensure ethical values of all members of the society. It is my prayer that if Kyegegwa District Integrity Forum is launched, poor service delivery and corruption will be history’.
The DIPF team at Kyegegwa, here we say no to Corruption
 Thanks to the efforts of the Director RIDE-Africa, the Coordinator RWECO and Resident District commissioner who mobilized  the participants from all corners including civil servants, judiciary, religious leaders  and the consideration to invite the senior citizen (PWD) who had maneuvered all the way to attend the meeting to attend the induction meeting. The meeting was among others attended by  the district Chairperson V, the chief administrative Officer,  the resident n District commissioner, the district police Commander, Representatives from CSO’s, representative of the town council,  representatives of religious leaders  and  the heads of department  at the district.

By Sheila K

Kyegegwa targets corrupt staff

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Sunday, 26 August 2012 21:28
Written by wilber muhwezi
Kyegegwa district chairman Norman Birungi has said the district has lost more than Shs 100m in the two years it has been in existence to officials suspected to be corrupt.
Birungi said seven district staff had so far been interdicted to pave way for investigations. Birungi revealed this development to The Observer last week after attending a sensitization workshop on good governance at Kyegegwa district headquarters.
The workshop was organized and funded by the Rwenzori Consortium for Civic Competence (RWECO) and Ride Africa, nongovernmental organizations with anti-corruption and governance programmes in Rwenzori sub-region.
The workshop was intended to kick-start activities in preparation for the launch of the Kyegegwa district Integrity Promotion Forum, due in November. Each district in Uganda, according to RWECO project coordinator, Jimmy Baluku, is expected to have an Integrity Promotion Forum chaired by the Resident District Commission.
“Kyegegwa badly needs such forum that can instill discipline amongst our staff who have become unethical and corrupt,” Birungi said.
He said two members of staff in the district’s forestry sub-sector had been dragged to the Anti-Corruption Court for allegedly embezzling more than Shs 50m, while another Shs 25m had been stolen from the finance department.
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