ToroDev trained 120 rural monitors since August 2012 in online advocacy, monitoring service delivery using on line social media/ICT tools like Ushahidi plat form for online documentation, visualization and mapping. Rural monitors have continued to advocate for better services, through monitoring service delivery in their Sub Counties and demanding for public accountability from their local leaders.
Advocacy forums have continued to hold monthly meetings to plan, update and encourage fellow forum members on how to actively use both physical meetings and ICT tools to advocate for improved service delivery. “Advocacy forum members are always motivated, mentored and encouraged through phone calls, Skype and physical meetings to keep using online/virtual platform for documentation and advocacy on people’s demands for improved service delivery in the seven districts of the Rwenzori region”. Said Amanya Sheilla, ToroDev.
Rural monitors have also monitored the national census exercise in their different Sub Counties. “As People’s Rights and forum for development Forum, we have been monitoring and updating people on whatever is taking place about the national census. We found out that officials were asking money from the local citizens, who had shown interest in being employed to carry out the census activities. But as a forum, we criticized the officials and informed the applicants not to pay any money for getting the jobs. We also informed the officials that applicants should be chosen on academic merit, and not rigging the exercise”. Said Mukwano Senyonjo, the Chairperson of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, Kabarole District.
Rural monitors have also participated in encouraging and motivating local citizens to embrace government programs that are developmental to the society. “We have encouraged residents of Mutunda and Bundibubuga parishes in Ndugutu Sub County to embrace the government’s decision of extending electricity from Nyahuka town. During the meeting that was organized by local leaders, fifty three people attended and fifteen people paid thirty thousand shillings each to Bundibugyo Energy Cooperative Society (BECS). During the meeting, it was also agreed that by 21st July 2014, every house hold should have paid at least 30,000/= to kick start the project”, said Tibesigwa Rajab, a member of Bundibugyo Media Practitioners Forum in Bundibugyo District.
However, rural monitors lack sufficient funds to run their activities smoothly especially in monitoring services in rural areas, and also mobilize local citizens for meetings. Rural monitors also face intimidation from local leaders who are responsible for the issues raised from the community .
The advocacy forums are supported by SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.