Using ICTs for Citizen Engagement with Leaders to Improve Accountability and Transparency in Public Service Delivery in Uganda

Limited inclusive citizenry participation at the grassroots, unchecked bureaucracy corruption tendencies, and information gaps result in inappropriate implementation of national plans and poor service delivery. This deprives people of their right to access public service. However, recognizing and embracing ICT improves the effectiveness and efficiency of public service delivery.

In partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), WOUGNET initiated an ICT Governance project entitled: Promoting Effective Use of ICTs for Citizen Engagement with Leaders to Improve Accountability and Transparency in Public Service Delivery in Eastern Uganda( Tororo, Pallisa, and Busia districts).The project aimed at addressing institutional inconsistencies characterized by limited inclusive citizenry participation, unchecked bureaucracy, and corruption among others, through the use of ICTs to bridge the information gap between the citizens and their leaders with the aim of improving accountability and transparency in the service delivery framework. The engagement forums included radio talk shows, community and wider stakeholders’ meetings, the SMS platform, and VASC meetings. These forums yielded outcomes as the issues raised were addressed by those with roles, responsibilities, and functions( duty bearers). The project intervention promoted the effective and efficient use of ICTs to improve service delivery as explained below.

Enhanced ICT Capacity Building Training for Improved Citizenry Participation

This ICT training aimed to strengthen the effective and efficient use of ICTs by the community to promote inclusive citizenry participation in exercising their human rights to demand accountability and transparency in public service delivery and good governance from duty bearers. The participants were able to get skills and knowledge on the use of ICTs in monitoring, documenting, and reporting issues of poor service delivery. After the use of the platform, there has been improved access to information on poor service delivery issues and bad governance by the community who used the SMS to raise a number of concerns to the duty bearers. 

It also created awareness in the community on human rights, democratic governance, and service delivery, the community was empowered to monitor their own environment which created a sustaining power over their leaders.

How The Media Improved Service Delivery

The involvement of the media in most forums improved the vigilance and leaders took caution to prove their worth of trust when communicating on air. The leaders were held for accountability and transparency during the talk shows. Leaders were required to explain pertinent issues and action points with respect to poor service delivery concerns by the community, particularly issues raised from the SMS platform and other engagement forums to the public. The radio talk show helped to create awareness of human rights in democratic governance, citizenry participation, registration process and use of the SMS Platform, and how to contact WOUGNET on any issue.

Fostering Accountability and Transparency in Wider Stakeholder’s Meetings

This forum engaged district leaders to understand the project concept and also get community concerns in the form of documented reports. Various issues were addressed in these district engagement meetings including the district plans and budget. District engagement meetings were held across the districts which included District Councilors, Parish Chiefs, Women group members, LC3 Chairperson, and media, among others, and during the meeting, leaders were tasked to explain community concerns raised through the different forums including the SMS platform, community engagement meetings, radio talks and Voluntary Social Accountability Committees(VSACs) meetings. The engagement meetings harmonized the information flow, ironing out bureaucratic tendencies, and deliberate corruption behavior, and exposed the incompetency of many officeholders. This improved leaders’ interface with the community, and influenced their duty bearers’ positive action in addressing the issue.

Inclusive Citizenry Participation Through Community Engagement Meetings

The community engagement meeting was conducted at the sub-county level and was facilitated by LCV Councilors, LC3 chairpersons, parish chiefs, and health inspectors among others. One notable commitment in community engagement meetings by leaders was to improve their work relations with the local community, participate in the monitoring of community projects, and assess community needs on road networks, water sources, and agricultural performance raising from government-provided inputs. Awareness raising through various engagements enhanced sustained involvement by the community to hold leaders accountable and transparency in the service delivery framework in any opportunistic events. Community engagement improved duty bearers’ positive responsiveness to community concerns over inconsistencies in the public service delivery framework.

In conclusion, the use of ICTs as tools for enabling the community holds leaders accountable and transparent. The use of ICTs not only increases access to information but also enhances the demand for good service delivery and harmonized interface between the community and their leaders. ICTs also enhanced the relationship between citizens and the duty bearers in promoting good service delivery.

Written by;
Roseline Babirye, Program Assistant Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy


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