Wednesday 4 December 2013

Launching of Katebwa Advocacy Forum

On 22nd November 2013, the local citizens of Katebwa Sub County in Kabarole District launched their forum called Katebwa Advocacy Forum. The forum is community’s own initiated meant to sustainably monitor and advocate for improved service delivery and demand accountability from the local leaders. The forum was formed by the rural monitors who were trained by ToroDev and is expected to act as a bridge between the rural grass root communities and the local leadership using the available ICT tools like FM radios, mobile phone and online social media tools like Ushahidi for improved service delivery in the region. “The forum’s major focus is to promote accountability and transparency in our Sub County and this will help local leaders to deliver quality services to the local community”, said Muhindo Ezra, the Chair Person of Katebwa Advocacy Forum.

Muhindo Ezra talks to the local citizens during the launching
During the launching, ToroDev’s Research and Communications Officer Akugizibwe Solomon appealed to the local citizens to always monitor their services. “Ugandans are suffering poor services yet they pay a lot of taxes levied on goods, leaders who are holders  of the electorates money have turned into diverting the money to their personal gains, it is your role as a local citizen to ensure that your leader uses your money effectively”.

Meanwhile, the LC III of Katebwa Sub County Mr. Byokufa Mustafa thanked ToroDev for empowering local CBOs (Community Based Organizations) to promote accountability. “I thank ToroDev for supporting CBOs in my village, this has given me a plat form as a leader to present what I have done for my people, and also face criticisms that will enable me to put things right and effectively deliver services to my people”.

Surprisingly, a meeting which targeted youth and women registered little attendance for the youth because they are not always the preferred choice of the general community to participate in decision making processes/meetings. According to Tusiime Francis, a journalist with a local FM radio station based in Kabarole District, "The youths are not always invited in such community meetings because the community doesn't respect them and hence doesn't respect their decisions."

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Impeachment of Lord Mayor Rukwago? Lessons for Ugandans?

On 1st December 2013, panelists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the impeachment of the Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority Mr. Lukwago, and the lessons leant by the local people from this action. “On the day of the meeting to vote Hon. Lukwago out of office, court sent an interim order stopping the election but the councilors went ahead and conducted the exercise. 
However, the voting was null and void because the law does not recognize it and Mr. Lukwago is still the mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority”. Said Lawyer Musana, an advocate of the High Court. 

The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Solomon Akugizibwe, a local citizen and also Media & Communications Officer at ToroDev and Mr. Godfrey Nyakahuma, the Chairperson of the National Resistance Movement, Kabarole District.

Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago (R) takes oath on 20th May 2011

“If a leader is to be impeached, right procedures should be followed in good faith and with honest.  The Lord Mayor shouldn’t have been mistreated, he shouldn’t have been stopped from coming to the tribunal to defend himself, and his lawyers shouldn’t have also been blocked from submitting the interim order. The impeachment shows the struggle between the poor and the rich and the denial of democracy of the marginalized group of people”, said Solomon Akugizibwe.

However, Hon Godfrey Nyakana showed his dissatisfaction over his collogues’ discussions. “The local people have misunderstood the Lord Mayor’s impeachment. If Hon Lukwago wants to be an activist, he should move from the council because better issues like those of delivering services to the people are the council's priority than opposing the government”. 

Mr. Nyakana went ahead to indicate the poor image of the opposition. “The opposition has a long term program that is sponsored by outside countries, that’s why they want to cause uprisings like those that took place in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, among other countries. The opposition also uses an agenda of seeing dead bodies so as to win credit and that’s why they try at all levels to influence chaos”.

Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins. “How can 29(twenty nine) councilors impeach somebody who was elected by millions of local citizens to represent them?”, said Poson from Karambi Sub County, Kabarole District, “If court has not proved Lukwago guilty, how can the government decide to impeach him?”, said Andrew from Fort Portal, “Government should not say that the opposition is causing chaos, it’s the denial of people’s rights that is causing tear gas on streets of Kampala. Even those leaders who defend government faults are being bribed by the government and are the same leaders who have done nothing for their people”, said Emmanuel from Fort Portal.

The 2hr (two hour) live radio discussion was moderated by Kasigazi Willy Donanto.

Friday 29 November 2013

“In Kicwamba Sub County, community roads are better than District and Central Government roads”, Rwaheru Gilbert.

The local citizens of Kicwamba Sub County in Kabarole District appeared on Better FM on 24th November 2013 to discuss their service delivery issues. This was during the ‘Listeners Forum’ a 2hour weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Sunday (08:00-10:00pm) that is sponsored by ToroDev.

“In Kicwamba Sub County, we have three kinds of roads, those that are managed by the community, those under the district and those under the central government. However, roads maintained by the community are better than roads under the district and central government. This is because of the little funds that the central government allocates for road maintenance”, said Rwaheru Gilbert, the Chairperson of Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery in Kicwamba Sub County, Kabarole District.

The poor roads in Kicwamba Sub County
During the discussion, Gilbert went ahead to indicted how Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery is being used to lobby for better roads. “Through Kicwamba Forum for Development and Service Delivery, a forum that is initiated by the local people, we mobilized leaders to tax companies and vehicles collecting stones from Hurugongo and as we talk, 10 (ten) million shillings has been collected to the sub county account to work on the roads”.

Meanwhile, the live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Kachope Matsiko, a local citizen from Kicwamba Sub County who discussed how roads are the most important services since they are used to access other services. “Roads are the most important services that should be given first priority because they are used to access other services like water, health centers and schools. However, it is too sad that the money allocated by the government for road maintenance is too little. Kakondwa-Harugongo road, Kinyamangi road and Kihondo roads are all in the budget to be worked on but the allocated funds are too little”.

Local citizens also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins. “Our roads are so poor”, said Roger from Katebwa Sub County, “Wasa bridge is so poor and hindering our movements”, said Allelluah from Ntoroko District, “Rwabaganda road is so poor with a lot of pot holes”, said Musa from Kagorogoro, “The demonstration has helped because most leaders have been dormant”, said Elizabeth from Harugongo, “Our Members of Parliament are too dormant and have never come back on ground to pick our issues” said Swaibu.

The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Alituha Patrick.

Thursday 28 November 2013

“Analyzing the role of leaders and government in promoting Tourism through appropriate laws and policies for improved livelihoods of the ordinary citizens through tourism.”

On 23rd November 2013, panelists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the role of leaders in promoting tourism for improved livelihoods of the ordinary citizens. This was during the ‘Orukurato Program’ a 2hour weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00pm) that is sponsored by ToroDev. 

“Tourism means the commercial organization and operation of holidays and visits to places of interest like natural resources such as wild life, land scape, among others. Tourism is so important because it brings a lot of foreign exchange in the country”, said Benjamin Kennedy, an expert in tourism.

Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism

Mr. Benjamin further went ahead to indicate some of the challenges that hinder the development of Uganda's tourism sector. “The local people do not provide market for tourism because they think that it’s for the rich and so choose to spend their leisure time in bars, clubs and sports. The local people are also destroying tourist attractions through killing wild life like rhinos and elephants for ivory and destroying forests. Government is not investing enough in tourism and that’s why many roads leading to tourism sites are poor”. 

Hon Mugisa Herbert, Chairperson LC III, South Division Fort Portal Municipality Kabarole District also participated in the live radio discussion by indicating the poor government policies. “Policies made by the government are not implemented effectively. Some of the passed policies have failed completely such as the burning of the polythene bags (buveera) and stopping smoking in public.  The government should develop tourist sites, conserve land with tourist attractions instead of giving it to foreign investors so as to match with the competing world”. 

Local people also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “We have a beach and tourists like touring the place, but Rwatera road that leads to the tourist site is so poor”, said Kasasira from Kasenda Sub County in Kabarole District, “There are many crater lakes in my area but the local people whose land they occupy claim their ownership. Are crater lakes for the government or for the local people?”, said Mwesige from Kasunganyanja in Kabarole District, “Both political and local leaders should embrace tourism so as to bring in more foreighn exchange”, said Edward.

The 2hr (two hour) live radio discussion was moderated by Kasigazi Willy Donanto. 

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Radio remains the most accessible and cost effective traditional ICT tool in Uganda to mobilize the citizenry, engage leaders for improved service delivery through virtual platforms in form of talk shows.

Radio programs/discussions have provided better ways to involve leaders for accountability and to engage local citizens to demand for better service delivery from their local leaders.

In Kabarole District, broadcasting issues related to accountability has increased on every radio station. Most of the accountability programs are moderated by a trained radio mentor trained by ToroDev. “On Voice of Toro, Kabarole district, there are two Programs that handle issues related to accountability (Bukire program and Manya Abebembezi bawe). Leaders have been on Air and recorded voices of grass root people have also been aired live on air. Open discussions are always emphasized during these programs which has created a great platform for leaders and grass root people to discuss issues’’. Said Tusiime Francis, a mentor at Voice of Toro, Kabarole district.
Rwenzori radio journalists during a training with ToroDev
Radio mentors have also improved skills of rural FM radio journalists and radio proprietors through trainings and sharing the experience in broadcasting public accountability programs. “The experience we have has made it easier for us to approach the managers and lobby for accountability programs so that different political and local leaders are invited for talk shows and accountability programs are broadcasted”, said Balinda Chris from Kyenjojo Development Radio ,Kyenjojo District.

Radio mentors have continued sharing issues related to accountability on different online platforms like ushahidi and facebook and this has helped in knowledge and information sharing and networking amongst themselves and leaders. “Issues posted on online plat forms like Ushahidi, face book and blogs have helped us to share this information on radio during news bulletins and this has made our work easier”. Said Tumwine Howard  UBC radio Bundibugyo.

However, radio mentors still face challenges of transport facilitation to reach out the community and pick people’s issues, and lack of equipment like recorders, cameras, computers and internet for information sharing and evidence based information which has affected the bigger work of professional journalists.