Monitoring service delivery: Why all stakeholders must get involved
Service delivery in most parts of the country is still wanting and the situation has been worsened by massive corruption. Looking at the health sector as an example, there are many health facilities that are still under staffed especially those in the rural areas. Drug stock outs are also a normal occurrence in most of these facilities. Health staff report for duty at their own time and also leave as they wish because there are not people to put pressure on them. Patients who need their services are therefore left with no alternative other than seeking those services from private clinics which are normally very expensive. The education sector is also gravely affected by this vice of corruption.
There is understaffing in most of these public schools with so many pupils, absenteeism of teachers without genuine reasons, poor performance of pupils, reluctance of parents to take part in school programs, mismanagement of school funds among others. Looking at procurement and disposal of public assets, contracts are in many occasions awarded on unclear grounds and some of the contractors actually do a lot of shoddy work thus leading to poor service delivery.
Women of Uganda Network is implementing the project “Promoting and strengthening citizens’ participation and demand for accountability in public service delivery through use of ICTs” in three districts of Eastern Uganda namely Palisa, Busia and Tororo. This project is an upscale of the project “Empowering local people and communities to monitor districts service delivery through ICTs” which was implemented in five districts of northern Uganda namely Apac, Kole, Oyam, Gulu and Amuru. The project aims at strengthening the capacity of local grassroots people to be able to monitor service delivery in their districts and to fight corruption through exposure of poor serve delivery as a result of corruption.
During the awareness raising workshop organized by WOUGNET on 18th February 2014 at Red Cross Hall-Palisa, a bereaved participant from Gogonyo sub-county noted that they are normally asked to identify beneficiaries of NAADS which they normally do. However, she said that the projects are normally given to other people who are normally relatives of the NAADS Coordinators.
In Adal Parish, Apopong sub-county, the committees raised a challenge of limited teachers. The school only has 8 teachers (2 female and 5 male) with a population of 991 pupils. The school also has two stances of latrines only. Poor performance of pupils is another issue that was reported by the committees. Furthermore, Adal health centre II was constructed with staff quarters but it has never been commissioned for two years now. Gogonyo health III just like many other health facilities across the country often experience drug stock outs, late reporting to duty of staff. The district also has bad roads in some places and some of these include Daraja opeta road, Kazibwe Akisim road, Kishangani Obute Manga road among others.
It is therefore very important for citizens to actively get involved in improving the face of service delivery in their communities. WOUGNET has equipped the community members of Palisa with skills in monitoring, community empowerment, advocacy and civic engagement so as to enhance their participation in decision making on matters that concern them. It has further built their capacity in using ICTs to document, report and disseminate information on service delivery in their communities. The ICTs that they will employ include mobile phones, digital cameras and a web-based platform Ushahidi.
It is believed that through increased community monitoring, documenting, reporting and disseminating shortfalls in service delivery within their districts, the duty bearers will be tasked to act quickly in responding to those issues and using the same platforms available the community members are expected to share the progress made so as to motivate the leaders to continue serving their communities.
Monitoring service delivery is so important because it ensures that there is value for money, ensures effectiveness, improves service delivery, avoids wastage / deviation from plan, ensures delivery of the right quality / quantity and provides checks against corruption / misappropriation. It should be done right from project idea generation, during project implementation and after a project.
However, monitoring is not an easy thing to do as noted by the RDC of Busia during his closing remarks of an awareness raising workshop on good governance organized by Women of Uganda Network in Busia district in December 2013. It needs a lot of sacrifice and voluntarism as it is for the betterment of the community. Some people tend to hold back or give wrong information to monitors, others take issues personally feeling that their privacy is being infringed upon and tend to become defensive while others threaten the monitors.
The community members also feel frustrated when the issues reported are not being acted upon. It is therefore vital for citizens to be aware of the challenges involved in monitoring service delivery and develop strategies to overcome them. We need to be persistent and never give up until we see the results of our efforts. Monitoring also needs to be done in a group and the findings should always be documented and disseminated to the targeted people who are mandated to address the issues identified in order for results to be seen.
Brenda Otika Akite
Rural Projects Manager, Northern Uganda