Thursday 28 August 2014

The absenteeism of Members of Parliament in parliamentary sessions

On 16th August 2014, panelists appeared on HITS FM to discuss the absenteeism of members of parliament during parliamentary sessions. “In the present 9th parliament, most seats are always vacant during parliamentary sessions. This is because most Members of Parliament are always busy attending to their personal duties when parliamentary sessions are going on”, said Mr. Mugisa Degratius, a local citizen of Ruteete Sub County in Kabarole District. The local citizen was discussing on ToroDev’s live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

A parliamentary Session
The live radio discussion was also attended by Hon. Monday Wilson, the youth councilor of Kamwenge District, who stated the functions of Members of Parliament. “Article 79 of the Ugandan Constitution states the functions of MPs as having power to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda. This has been done through passing bills like the anti pornography bill, among others. Other roles are protecting the constitution and promoting democratic governance of Uganda”.

Hon Monday also indicated the existence of dormant MPs in parliament. “There are some MPs who are so dormant and doing nothing in delivering services. They do not discuss in parliament and also don’t appear in public. Such leaders do not do their secondary role of forwarding people’s issues to parliament through making consultative meetings. They also don’t lobby for their local citizens and therefore are not even supposed to represent local citizens”.

Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “Corruption has totally affected the performance of our MPs”, said Robert from Karangura Sub County, “Bills passed in parliament are not always effective in implementation”, said Apollo from Rwimi Town Council, “There are some factors that disturb the performance of our MPs like poor facilitation”, said a caller from Kyenjojo District, “Some MPs are so dormant to the extent of sleeping in parliament”, said Mary from Fort Portal Municipality, “Our MPs have not done much to deliver services”, said a caller from Kyenjojo. 

The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr Kasigazi Willy Donanto and is supported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda. 

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Rural monitors launch Nkoma Advocacy Forum

 Nkoma Advocacy Forum in Nkoma Sub County, Kamwenge District is one of the fourteen advocacy forums that are communities own initiatives formed by the 120 rural monitors who were trained by ToroDev in on line advocacy, monitoring service delivery using online social media/ ICT tools like Ushahidi plat form for on line documentation, visualization and mapping. 

On 20th August 2014, over forty members of Nkoma Advocacy Forum with support from ToroDev launched their forum, to get accreditation and recognition from their local leaders, and also to promote transparency and accountability among the local leaders in Kamwenge District.
During the launching, Miss Harriet Mujuni, the Chairperson of the forum indicated some of the activities of the forum. “As Nkoma Advocacy Forum, we advocate for better service delivery from our local leaders, do research concerning service delivery most especially government programs and projects,  lobby for better services from the government and also demand and promote public accountability in our district”.

Youths and women during the launching
Miss Harriet further indicated the wide spread corruption in Kamwenge District that has hindered development. “Kamwenge District is lagging behind in development because of lack of accountability amongst the local leaders. Money that is meant for development activities has been diverted by the district workers, and no action has been taken against them due to lack of civil society to make engagements”.

The launching was also attended by Mr. Solomon Akugizibwe, the Media and Communications Officer at ToroDev, who encouraged the rural monitors to do advocacy and make their leaders accountable. “You should not stop on launching this forum but move on and advocate to making your leaders accountable. I also warn you against involving politics in your advocacy, because it may fail the forum and also divert your mission and goals”. 

Meanwhile, the Kamwenge Resident District Commissioner appealed to the rural monitors to register their Forum at the District level, so as to encounter greater achievements in the district. “Forum members should register their Forum at the district and National level, so as to realize greater achievements in the district, and also have greater lobbying opportunities”.

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.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

ToroDev to increase monitoring in Kyegegwa district to Improve Education Performance

The Executive Director ToroDev, Johnson Baguma Kumaraki has promised to further strengthen partnership with Kyegegwa Town Council Local Government and the local communities to strengthen education performance through support to increased monitoring and community sensitization on the importance of education among others.

Mr. Johnstone also promised to support more community engagements with both political and technical leaders in the education sector through holding regular accountability meetings/workshops and participation on the live radio discussions.  This was revealed during a stakeholders education conference held in Kyegegwa Town Council held on 30th July, 2014.

ToroDev has been supporting Kyegegwa district local government in the use of appropriate ICT tools like local FM radios to give accountability to the local citizens for improved service delivery. Many local citizens in the district have also been trained to use appropriate ICT tools to monitor service delivery and participate in government planning and budgeting processes.  

Participants discussing during the conference
Other areas of support identified to uplift the performance of the education sector in the district were organizing annual education review meetings, lobbying for improved budgetary allocations to education sector by both local and central government leaders, regular capacity building trainings to school management committees, teachers and other education stakeholders.   

The education conference organized by Kyegegwa Local Government in partnership with ToroDev and other civil society organizations like KRC, RIDE-Africa and RICNET among others also identified the critical barriers to education performance in Kyegegwa Town Council as poor attitude of the community towards education, failure to provide children with school lunch, limited career guidance and counseling of children.

Other critical barriers to improved education performance in Kyegegwa Town Council identified were failure to promote physical education, declining morality in the community leading to high levels of indiscipline and other policy challenges like high pupil to teacher ratio, poor teacher’s welfare, poor infrastructure among others.

This activity was supported by NED, SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to improve service delivery and accountability in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.

Friday 15 August 2014

ToroDev Joins Campaign to Petition Ugandan Parliament Over Taxation of Agricultural/farming Inputs

ToroDev in partnership with other civil society organizations from across the country through Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) has joined the campaign to petition the Uganda Parliament calling for the withdrawal of taxes on agricultural inputs proposed in the 2014/2015 Uganda National Budget. The petition is expected to be presented to the Speaker of Uganda Parliament in this month (August 2014).

ToroDev has joined this petition because the proposed taxes are regressive and will likely over burden small scale farmers which will consequently lead to increase in the food costs putting many livelihoods at stake.
A sample of the Signature form for the petition
Although Uganda has generally enjoyed good economic growth in the last ten years averaging 7% per year, the growth in the agriculture sector has been disappointing. Real growth in agricultural output has been steadily declining over the years, from 7.9% in 2000/01 to about 2.6% in 2008/2009 partly due to limited budgetary support and taxation of agricultural inputs by the government of Uganda.

It should be noted that other unproductive sectors like security and administration continue to receive high budgetary support from the government which is unhealthy to Uganda’s economy.

The poor performance of the agriculture sector is also reflected in the sector’s declining contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence increasing poverty since over 80% of Uganda’s population especially in the rural areas like the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region where ToroDev operates are either directly or indirectly employed by the sector.

ToroDev hopes that the central government will listen to local grassroot call to withdraw the taxes on agricultural inputs and hence avoid the country from being food insecure. The withdrawal of the proposed taxes will also uplift the livelihoods of the rural grassroots who depend on agriculture to improve their household incomes.

This initiative is under ToroDev’s public policy analysis and advocacy which aims at advocating/lobbying for better government planning and budgeting policies to ensure that public resources are appropriated in a manner that uplifts the livelihoods of the local grassroots.

Thursday 14 August 2014

ToroDev/RJF holds another Press Conference

On 8th August 2014, ToroDev in Partnership with Rwenzori Journalist Forum held another regional press conference in Fort Portal town, Kabarole District. The regional monthly press conference initiative aims at improving service delivery through advocacy and promoting timely accountability in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region. The press conference was attended by Hon Alex Ruhunda, the Member of Parliament of Fort Portal Municipality, Hon Mugisa Herbert, Chairperson South Division in Fort Portal Municipality and members of Rwenzori Journalist Forum.

Hon Alex addresses members of RJF
During the conference, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to act as a tool in marketing the Rwenzori Region. “Media is the strongest weapon that we have in our region. The media should therefore market our region and also take part in realizing peace in this region, through joining hands in solving the current cultural differences so that peace is stabilized in the Rwenzori Region”.

Hon Alex further gave accountability concerning Fort Portal Municipality. “Over 96% power average has been attained in Fort Portal Municipality, places like Bulyanyenje, Kyabukonkoni, Mukubo, among others have all received power. We have lobbied six billion from the central government to work on our roads, and this money is already on our bank account to also construct a bypass that will run through Kataraka-Kyegobe-Kasese Road”. 

Hon Mugisa also highlighted the achievements from his office to the local people of South Division. “We introduced the bursary scheme that is meant to support vulnerable children who cannot manage the costs of higher institutions of learning. We pay half of their tuition until the course is accomplished. In the past three years, ten students have been supported, and some have already finished school”.

Hon Mugisa further gave accountability concerning the NAADS and Health sectors. “Under the production‘s office, twenty two homes received agricultural in puts, and eighteen heifers have so far been distributed since 2011. Under the health sector, two health center III’s were constructed in Mucwa and Kasusu, and a water tank was also constructed at Kasusu Health Center III”.

Meanwhile, Hon Alex appealed to members of RJF to always engage local leaders in giving accountability to the local citizens. “As RJF, it should be your mandate to always engage leaders in giving accountability to local citizens and also be a voice to the voiceless. You should also monitor services being delivered by your leaders. Leaders should also know that citizens elected us to serve them, therefore, we need to guide them on how to fight poverty and not keep them in poverty”.

The Press conferences are supported by NED, SIDA/CIPESA on a project aimed at using radio and social media to improve service delivery and accountability in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda. 

“We fought the war of liberating this country”, Kinuge John

On 9th August 2014, the Chairman of War Veterans of Burahya County and Fort Portal Municipality Mr. Kinuge John indicated how they fought in liberating Uganda. “From 1963, there was no peace and ownership of property in Uganda, unless one belonged to the army.  In 1981, we started a war in Katebwa Sub County that went up to 1986, when Uganda was liberated”. Mr. Kinuge was discussing on ToroDev’s supported live radio discussion called ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm.

President Museveni and other army officials
The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Kahuma Andrew a builder in Fort Portal Municipality, Mr. Mukwano Ssenyonjo the Chairperson of People’s Rights and Forum for Development in Mugusu Sub County, and Mr. Happy Steven, a youth from Kibiito Sub County all in Kabarole District. 

During the program, Mr. Happy Steven indicated how he started a program of sensitizing his fellow youths on development programs. “We started up groups/SACCOS for helping the youths to get loans most especially those who are carrying out farming.  We sensitize youths in these groups and also give them skills of how they can develop their businesses. We have done this in Kasunganyanja zone, Buheesi, Njarayabana, Kyamukubu, and Nyabusesa Sub Counties”.

Mr. Kahuma also indicated the challenges that are faced by builders. “As builders, we are facing challenges like exploitation by our employees. This is caused by the nature of our work that lacks employment letters, which has led to poor or no payments after accomplishment of work. We also don’t have any forum that can unite us to protect our rights”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mukwano also participated in the live radio discussion by appealing to the local citizens to monitor their services. “Local citizens have to understand that it’s their role to monitor services being delivered by their local leaders.  There is also a campaign of signing a petition to parliament against the new proposal of taxing agricultural inputs. This campaign is meant to protect local citizens who will be at a risk of food security in case prices of agricultural products hike”.

Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins and using the SMS plat form to raise their issues and concerns. “The builders have to work with the ministry of works, so that laws and policies are improved and strengthened”, said Richard, “The money that the government is proposing to give to the war veterans is too little”, said Bashir from Mbarara District.

The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and is supported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.