Toro Development Network promotes access and utilization of information to rural communities through broadcast media such as radios. Phenomenal radio talk shows; Orukurato and Listeners Forum are aired on Hits Fm and Better Fm respectively. Participants in these shows include; central and local government leaders, civil society representatives and local citizens (youth and women). The aim of the shows is to provide an avenue where a wide range of issues on promoting public accountability for improved service delivery and involvement of local citizens in planning, budgeting and monitoring services that support their social economic development are discussed. To make the shows more engaging and interesting to the listener ship, they take a debate form. Thirty four (34) talk shows have been held in the period 2nd January 2015 to 10th May 2015.
Of great importance to Toro Development Network is the active participation of local citizens. Their participation has been on live talk shows, call-in and sms.
To assess the performance of the talk shows, an evaluation exercise was planned and executed. The evaluation was held on air where seventy five ( 75) local citizens actively participated through call-in, sms and on face book. Important to note, only 8 women participated which maybe an indication that women are still vulnerable. The following report highlights the findings of the exercise; achievements, challenges and recommendations.
|M&E officer Miss Sheilla Amanya live on Better Fm during the Evaluation talk show|
Achievements attributed to the radio talk shows.
Radio talk shows have improved service delivery in Mugusu sub county Kabarole District . "As members of Rights & Forum for Development, forum based in Mugusu sub county we were hosted on Better Fm in April 2015 where we discussed issues related to improving water services in Myeri Village, we are happy that leaders were able to listen to the talkskow and they called us to present this petition to the district chairperson which we did on 13th/April 2015. We are happy that Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga the district chairperson for Kabarole pledged 1.5km extention to Kijongo village & 2 kilometers to Mweri village, the water extension will be done in the next financial budget/year (2015-2016) that begins in July 2015, and water will be extended to the two villages without fail, thanks to the radio talk shows". Said Mr.Senyonjo Mukwano the leader of Rights & Forum for Development, forum.
Radio talk shows have improved security in Mugusu Sub county. "There used to be lots of insecurity in Mugusu Sub-county, people's retail shops were routed everyday and business people had resorted to sleeping in their shops to guard their goods, we shared this issue on radio and we are happy today that police officers are doing night patrol, new police officers have been employed and those who were not working well were transferred to other places and now we have enough security and properties are well protected, this is all after sharing the issue on radio and leaders listened and acted positively ". Said Tibenda Stephen the Secretary of People' Rights and forum for development , Kabarole District.
Local citizens reported to having a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities. “The talk shows have created a platform to marginalized population/groups of women and youth to know their rights, responsibilities and lobby for improved service delivery from their political and local leaders”, reported Miss Shamim, a caller from Kisojo Sub-County in Kyenjojo District.
Participants noted that local leaders were now more accountable as opposed to the past.“There has been an increase in information sharing by local leader and political leaders, civil society leaders and technocrats as a result of the talk shows, the talk shows have provided a platform to provide public accountability for improved service delivery”, noted Jane Kahuma from Katembe-Mukole, Kyenjojo District.
ICT tools especially the use of FM radio stations have helped to improve accountability, monitoring service delivery and citizen participation in governance. “Radio programs have empowered local citizens with information and knowledge to demand for public accountability and lobby for improved service delivery, the live talk shows have even opened the eyes of women who used to be very shy to air out their views,but now women are brave enough to also call in and courageously ask for better services and share their problems with their leaders, leaders who have been reporting to offices late are exposed and they have changed………”, observed Mugisa James a caller from Muhoti, west division, Kabarole District.
Leaders eyes have been opened by the radio talk shows, those who have not been active have been awakened by the local citizens who attend the talk show and campaign against the sleeping leaders. “The talk shows have awakened the inactive leaders to evaluate their performance and start working for improved services……..”Said Kugonza David, Documentation & Communication Officer, ToroDev.
Challenges identified by the listeners of the radio talkshows
Leaders participation is still wanting; sometimes leaders are invited for the talk show but turn down the invitation, many technocrats demand facilitation in terms of transport, accommodation allowances, etc, “We find it hard to bring technocrats to the show because some are not ready to volunteer, and even some leaders have been invited but turn down the invitation at the last hour which makes our work move slowly than anticipated’’, Mr.Kumaraki B. Johnstone, Executive Director ToroDev.
Lack of commitment by some local leaders who pledge to improve services but never act on their promises;“The political leaders come for talkshows and make promises to improve services in health sectors, education, road etc, but they don't fulfill these promise but thanks to the good work of the talkshows which helps us to go back and remind them …..” Tibenda Stephen caller from Mugusu, Sub-County, Kabarole District.
The time for the talk show is not enough to fully enable participants discuss the issues of service delivery and accountability in their local areas, “the talk-show is listened to by all the people in the region [Rwenzori Region] and many people participate though call-ins and SMS. This causes a lot of congestion and not all people participate during the talk show due to limited time for all the callers”, Alinda Mary caller from Kisojo subcounty, Kyenjojo District,
There is need to organize rural radio debates to enhance local citizens’ participation especially where the call in rates are low; for example in districts like Ntoroko, Kyegegwa and Kamwenge. Most rural citizens fail to participate in the live radio discussions due to poverty, high illiteracy rates and traditional cultural values which especially limit women participation in live radio discussions.Rural radio debates will bring the discussions closer to the local grassroots and hence ensure effective accountability and service delivery monitoring, “They should record voices of the local people and take them on radio to enable listeners fully discuss their issues without wasting airtime on phone and transport coming to radio” Said Murungi Charles Ntoroko District
Technocrats should be invited through the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to be facilitated so that they can share with people in different communities.
Leaders/ technocrats invited for the talk shows should communicate in time if they are unable to appear for the discussion in order not to affect the program flow.
We are grateful to SIDA, NED, DRT, CIPESA, SPIDER, and ICT4DEM for their financial and technical support.