Background to the programme
After the total failure of aid policy, Uganda has implemented significant public sector reforms over the last 2 decades, addressing particularly decentralisation, liberalisation, privatisation and restructuring. But even in the decentralised system, people are overwhelmed by bureaucracies and service delivery gaps in every field (education, health, justice, etc.). According to some experts, the right development approach is « best fit » and not « best pratice », insisting that no governance template is valid everywhere and for all the time.
Objectives of the programme
Based on this concept, the Mwananchi program is aimed at increasing citizen’s voice and accountability.
It focuses on promotion of institutional capabilities, institutional accountability and improvement of institutional responsiveness to the needs of the poor. It also aims to strengthen citizen demand for accountability. The goal is to empower the ordinary citizens to set their justice agenda and give the poors access to the judicial system.
• Creation of the Bataka Court (BC), an informal judicial system in which communities and members of clans meet to resolve their issues on a day-to-day basis.
• Creation of Village Budget Clubs (VBC): 20 members trained in budget analysis, monitoring, advocacy, communication and documentation. This group controls the social services provided by the government. Duty bearers have to give them budget information for each action.
• Creation of Child Monitors (CM), pupils who are trained to track the teaching process in class, by monitoring, reporting and advocacy. (For example: creation of suggestion box, control of teacher’s attendance, etc.)
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
• Between 2011 and 2013, 117 cases have been handled by the BC, and 88 have been resolved
• VBC project increased transparency and accountability among service providers and at the community level. It enhanced supervision and responsibility among different parties.
• CM programme empowered both parents and children into school life. The scheme has simplified the supervisory role of school authorities and the annual syllabus is easier to fulfill.
• Community participation has been enhanced through dialogue, petitions, community radio and representation
The project was based on local realities, and not on an external development model. The project gives power to people who were previously disenfranchised from the formal system. In the Bataka court program, elder people are considered as judges. In the Child monitor program, the children take attendance and monitor each topic. In Village Budget Clubs groups, of the 20 members, 12 of are women. This is a novel feature for Uganda, because women were usually not included in actions of monitoring or advocacy.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
The project is piloted by the development research and training organization (DRT), and includes 10 partners. The Lira NGO Forum, Masindi District NGO Forum, Masindi District Education Network, Cross Culture Foundation of Uganda, Community Development and Child Welfare Initiative, Forum for Women in Democracy, Kalangala District NGO Forum, World Voices Uganda, Kibaale Civil Society Organizations Network, and Kapchorwa Civil Society Organizations Alliance.
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
No proper link between BC and formal institutions of justice
No enforcement measures aligned to decisions made in BC. Decisions are often not binding.
Resistance from duty bearers to provide information to VBC.
CM model creates a special child in the school, which can lead to envy and conflicts. Also, this special child’s scholar process can be damaged by the tracking performance.
Teachers were at first reluctant to participate in the CM process.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
There is a plan in process to link informal justice systems with formal justice.
BC system works on social pressure and social harmony, which remain powerful factors of dissuasion.
In VBC, community pressure has been sufficient to convince duty bearers to provide transparent information
Teachers naturally embraced the CM model over time
Suggestions for future improvement :
Promote this model of development in other countries
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
The program used the right approach, which is “best fit” and not “best practice”. Collective action can only be achieved if one works in the context of the local reality, on the already accepted community based structure. The model presented on this paper can be replicated in smaller areas such as a village and can collectively result in improved accountability and citizen’s voice in service delivery at a country-wide level.
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