Tuesday, 24 November 2015

ToroDev holds the 2nd Annual Regional Reflection Conference for ToroDev Stakeholders

ToroDev held the 2nd Annual Regional Reflection Conference on Public Accountability for Improved Service Delivery in the Rwenzori Sub-Region, Western Uganda under the theme: The Current Electioneering Process: “What are the Key Concerns of Public Service Delivery to Influence Elections Outcomes in the Region?. The 2 days residential regional reflection conference was held on 19th- 20h November 2015 at St Joseph Inn- Virika, Fort Portal.

The 2 days Annual Regional Reflection Conference 2015 served as an event for ToroDev and all stakeholders to reflect on the plans, activities, and successes of 2015. It also availed a chance to evaluate the execution of the recommendations made in the 1st Annual Regional Reflection Conference of 2014”. Said, Johnstone Baguma, the Executive Director ToroDev during the conference.

Mr. Baguma Johnstone Kumaraki giving the over all objectives of the conference at St. Joseph's Inn Virika in Fort Portal
Johnstone added, the organization has, particularly for the last 5 years, promoted and improved information and knowledge sharing for citizens’ engagement with their leaders to demand public accountability for improved service delivery and poverty reduction. This has been possible with donor support from the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER), CIPESA & SIDA, Development Research & Training (DRT), Development Initiatives, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Indigo Trust-UK, partner local FM radio stations and citizens’ community forums. ToroDev has deployed the “convergence approach, using ICTs to promote information access use and democratic engagements for improved essential service delivery

ToroDev also through this conference tackled other key issues that affect the well being of the Organization. They included  and not limited to; social and economic sustainability of already initiated 16 citizens’ advocacy groups in the region, capacity building needs in management of the advocacy forums and advocacy, reporting and active monitoring of service delivery at the grass root level.

Particular attention was also on stakeholders’ reflection to the forthcoming general elections 2016 in Uganda, especially the type of leadership the sub-region desires to have after elections. Specific issues to task the new leadership to address was identified during the reflection conference. These were the issues that the 16 Advocacy Forums and all other stakeholders will focus on advocating for in the next 5 years. In addition, partnerships and networking will be strengthened between ToroDev and partners like local government, central government, civil society, journalists and local citizens.

The conference presented a sound ground for feedback and knowledge sharing with an aim of improving our work. On the first day after the Conference, ToroDev hosted all the participants for a dinner to mark our 10 years of existence. The dinner was hosted at Mountains of the Moon Hotel, from 5pm- 11pm. All participants of the conference attended

The conference limited itself to reflecting on the contributions of ToroDev and partners to promote public accountability & democratic engagement for improved service delivery to reduce extreme poverty. Eighty two (82) participants attended the 2 days’ conference.16 females’ and 16 Youth leaders of the 16 Citizens’ Advocacy Forums from seven districts of the Rwenzori region were the primary participants. Eighteen (18) Media practitioners under their umbrella network, the Rwenzori Journalists’ Forum (RJF), 15 local radio stations from the 7 districts of the Rwenzori Region, Civil Society leaders and staffs also attended (KRC, RICNET, RIDE-AFRICA, AHURIO, KANCA, Wougnet, CIPESA, Academicians), 7 District Information Officers, Civil servants (CAOs) & district planners, leaders of District-NGO Forums, both political and technical leaders were represented.

Participants listening to a presentation during the conference

Objectives of the Annual Regional Conference 2015

a)      Reflect on the plans, activities, successes and challenges of 2015
b)      To reflect and give updates on the recommendations raised by different stakeholders from the 1st  Annual Regional Reflection Conference

c)      To provide a platform for primary stakeholders to share success stories, identify challenges and give possible recommendations for improved use of appropriate ICT tools to improve accountability and service delivery monitoring and advocacy

d)     To brainstorm on project sustainability; both social and economic sustainability

e)      To enhance partnerships and networking between ToroDev and partners like local and central government, civil society, journalists and local citizens

f)       Make plans for 2016, especially intense lobby & advocacy during the general election period.

“Uganda is in the middle of campaigns, elections are just on the door and politics are dominating all the social medias, Ugandans are debating, arguing, many are engaging each other in politics discussions, Am proud of young  people who have taken interest  in being part of politics,  the future will be brighter when young ones join” Said, Rev. Fr. Dr.  Pascal Kabura of Uganda Martyrs University Fort Portal campus while giving the key note address on the Theme of the conference on 19th/ October 2015

Fr. Dr. Pascal Kabura of Uganda Martyrs University Fort Portal Campus giving his Key Note address during the conference 
Rev. Dr. Pascal added; Uganda is here to stay, we need to engage ourselves and build what is happening in Uganda, we should not surrender to the fate, we can still do something to change the politics of Uganda, because there is a lot of panic, fear and mistrust in the political arena, and human beings of today can’t make good decisions in politic but we need to get involved in elections, vote and get involved in all the processes of elections.

We appreciate the good work our partner ToroDev is doing in this region, we partner with different organisations in East Africa, and ToroDev is one of them, the work of ToroDev is seen through Advocacy Forums, Radio Talk shows and online social Medias”. Said Ashna Kalemera of CIPESA during the conference.  

Ashnah  Kalemera of CIPESA giving Key Note address during the conference

On the first day of the conference different presentations were made on different topics, for example findings of the 5 years assessment of ToroDev was presented by Mrs Florence Baguma, M&E consultants, another presentation was made by Dr Muhumuza from Mountains of the Moon University & CAARD consultant. The presentation was on the proposed ToroDev E- Participation Model / System & proposal for future scale –up in Uganda and beyond. There was a panel discussion on this topic, more  panel discussions were on  mainstreaming gender issues in public accountability & democratic engagement for improved service delivery presented by Gorett Amuriat- Wougnet-Kampala

Goretti  Amuriat of WOUGNET Discussing Gender  Mainstreaming issues in Public Accountability
The main objective of the assessment was to investigate and assess the impact of ICTs for improved service delivery of Torodev’s intervention for the past 5 years 2011-2015 in the Rwenzori region”. Said Mrs Florence Baguma, M&E consultants.

Ms Florence Baguma presenting the ToroDev 5 years assessment report during the conference
Another presentation was on the Role of Citizens’ Advocacy Forums in Promoting Public Accountability & Service Delivery monitoring in the Rwenzori sub-region. “ToroDev is grateful to the 16 advocacy forums for the great work they are doing in improving service delivery through monitoring government services, demanding accountability from their local and political leaders, defending local citizens rights among other activities.” Said Sheila Amanya the M&E ToroDev.

As a result of the work of advocacy forums we have seen water put in place for example in Mugusu & Katebwa sub counties in Kabarole district,  two class room blocks have been put in place in Bufunjo Seed school in Kyenjojo district, Roads improved in Kichwamba, Rwebisengo & Ntoroko District Munjeru village in Kyenjojo District, etc all have  been worked on, we have improved staff in health centers in Bufunjo, improved accountability and improved participation of women in budgetary process and meetings”. Said Tumwesigye Andrew the leader of Bufunjo Forum in Kyenjojo District, during the panel discussion on the performance of advocacy forums in the Region.

Mr. Tumwesigye Andrew, Ms Ahaisibwe Jane, Mr. Bamanyisa Patrick advocacy leaders & Shiela Amanya M & E officer in a panel discussion during the conference

As advocacy forums we face challenges like a challenge of threats from security agents and local leaders, lack of enough funds to monitor all the areas, lack of ICTs such as computers, recorders, cameras etc”. Said Jane Ahaisibwe the leader of the Butiti forum during the panel discussion on the challenges of the advocacy forums

Different recommendations were suggested one of them included to give the advocacy forums more skills in advocacy, networking and provide them with more skills in sustainability of the advocacy forums, also woman should be encouraged to participate in public meetings and radio talk shows.

This conference was made possible with donor support from the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER), CIPESA & SIDA, Development Research & Training (DRT), Development Initiatives, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Indigo Trust-UK partner, local FM radio stations and citizens’ community forums.

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