Using mobile technologies to promote good governance and service delivery, Northern Uganda
Mobile technologies offer momentous opportunities for upholding good governance, effective service delivery, increasing Accountability and fighting corruption since they can reach citizens directly through interactive conduits of communication, they allow rapid data collection and access to information and offer innovative paths for social mobilization and effective community participation in development projects and activities in their communities
However, this modernism is still in its early life phase but there are many instances where the innovations have been successfully used for improved good governance and effective service delivery. For instance, WOUGNET with the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) support is promoting the use of mobile technologies and web based technologies as efficient social accountability tools to empower local communities to engage with political and decision making processes as well as providing effective voice mechanism to hold local leaders accountable under a project entitled “Empowering local communities to monitor service delivery using ICTs” in the five district of Apac, Oyam, Kole, Amuru and Gulu all in Northern Uganda
Under the project, the committees (Voluntary Social Accountability Committee) formed are also using mobile phone and web based technologies for reporting corruption scandals and poor service delivery in their areas, monitoring of public projects, and public service delivery as well as to promote transparency in operations by providing information to the people, enabling citizens to report on areas of concerns, monitor the integrity of elected and appointed leaders and provide instant feedback on the quality of public services in their areas
In a bid to strengthen grass-root proficiency to use mobile phones and new technologies to monitor service delivery and report corruption evils in their respective communities, WOUGNET with support from experts from University of Lineaeus in Sweden is in the process of setting up a toll free Voice Call and SMS platform to facilitate easy reporting by community monitors and reporters. The toll free SMS and Voice Call platform will be built and linked with Usahaidi platform which is used at WOUGNET, Usahaidi platform; www.wougnet.org/usahaidi/report is an open web platform that allows communities to report on cases of poor service deliveries and corruption within their respective communities.
Under the development, the information reported by community monitors and reporters either in voice or text format will be customized direct to Usahaidi. When the information is customized in Usahaidi open platform, a SMS alert will automatically be sent to all the communities’ monitors and reporters and subscribed members of the communities alerting them of a new issue reported, the alert SMS will also give subscribers a toll free number that will enable them retrieve the information direct from Usahaidi to hear or read the issues reported and where the incident is coming from.
WOUGNET’s plan to initiate a Voice call/SMS platform is due to the rapid growth in mobile phone usage among rural people as its target group and the growing multi-functionality of mobile phones makes them adaptable to a wide range of people’ needs and services, its ability to reach areas where there are no other communication possibilities, unlike internet technology mobile technology have lower entry barriers for poor people, they are no longer considered as luxury goods but as an integral part of people’s lives and people in the rural areas are prepared to allot a considerable amount of their income to mobile communication. Mobile phones enable real-time interactive dialogue as opposed to other traditional media and offer opportunities to provide instant feedback on events or interventions, and its ability to work hand in hand with other media technologies including radio and other online platform.
WOUGNET Project Officer, Amuru/Gulu