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Change is Possible with Citizens’ Participation in Contracts Monitoring

St. Lawrence

In 2016, Africa Freedom of Information Center (AFIC) in collaboration with the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) recruited and trained 40 community monitors in Ntungamo district on access to information and contract monitoring with support from the World Bank’s Global Social Accountability Partnership. Over the past three years, Kenneth Mushabe, one of the training beneficiaries and other community monitors have been monitoring local contracts and services, thereby earning the community trust. When residents learned of Mrs Rukundo’s deteriorating health because of expired medicine, they alerted Kenneth Mushabe of the suspicious activity at Nassour’s clinic. Kenneth and other community monitors visited Nassour’s clinic. Nassour’s staff hesitated but eventually allowed them to check the drug store, which indeed had expired drugs. The community monitors reported the case to the Uganda Police for further action.

The Uganda police at Omukatoogo Police Post investigated the matter, where Mr Nassour was eventually charged with the sale of expired medicines. Furthermore, the community monitors sensitized other community members on the need to be vigilant and the identification of expired drugs.

In 2016 in Nakaseke district. After the training, Bujjingo Godfrey, one of the trained monitors from Ngoma Sub County, Nakaseke District used the skills attained to make an information request to the headteacher of Karyaburo P/S, requesting for the student’s enrolment list in the school. The information request was not responded to; but this did not deter Godfrey and his team members from visiting the school, with the school management committee to follow up on the request. They found out, through a headcount that the school had only 25 registered students contrary to the 75 as had been reported to the community and Ministry of Education and Sports.

As a result, the community monitor reported the matter to the sub-county and the district officials which resulted in the transfer of the headteacher. Since then there have been no more ghost pupils reported at the school and the school enrollment has increased from 25 to more than 100 pupils. This is attributed to the fact that the community members got skills and knowledge about contracts monitoring and their right to access information. The involvement of the district leadership led to the transfer of the headteacher. The community monitor also noted that the monitoring tools helped them to identify red flags which made their monitoring exercise easier.

Our contract monitoring process provided for citizens’ empowerment through the 186 community monitors whose capacity was built to be able to monitor the performance of contracts and provide feedback to the duty bearers. Through this feedback, we saw shoddy works on roads improved on, poor health facilities closed off, school structures constructed and information walls provided.

The power of engagement through this process was based on citizens being available to demand for accountability and government officials accepting to disclose information and act on feedback provided and improve on development outcomes.
Community members are willing and have the interest to participate in government projects if they are involved, given information about the projects. A thing that creates ownership and responsibility.

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