Citizens’ Access to Information Training helps District Officials deliver their mandate

“If it wasn’t for AFIC, I wouldn’t be here as an Information Officer. The skills and knowledge of ATI and Open Contracting that I acquired through AFIC training while I was still in active journalism helps me every day in executing my duties. Through those skills, I can write stories on contract monitoring and other activities in the district on our new website.” said Anthony Kushaba the newly recruited Ntungamo District Information Officer.

Officers like Anthony are part of the stakeholders that benefited from the capacity building that AFIC undertook to support local governments to improve on their public procurement through improved disclosure. Before Anthony was recruited as the district information officer, he was trained as part of the journalists whose capacity was built by AFIC in covering /writing quality stories about ATI and Open Contracting.

Since 2018, AFIC has been engaging District Local Governments on the need for compliance with the. AFIC facilitated processes that enhanced the effective implementation of the access to information laws through disclosure of procurement data, public participation, and feedback. And as such while working with Ntungamo and Kanungu districts, it was discovered that these two never had Information Officers at the start of the project.

As luck would have it for Anthony, upon advertising for this job, he was the best-suited candidate since he was already trained by AFIC in ATI and OC. In one of the meetings organized by AFIC, Mr. Anthony Kushaba acknowledged how the AFIC training built his confidence and expertise through which he was motivated to apply for the job.

He further says that he is now in charge of sharing information with the public and also encourages his colleagues in other departments to always share information with the public, especially the Procurement Office. And indeed he has always been very instrumental whenever AFIC wanted to access information from the district.

In Kanungu district, the Information Officer, Ms. Mwajuma Twongyeirwe used the acquired knowledge to mobilize heads of departments to participate in radio programs to educate/sensitize citizens on ongoing government programs while in Pakwach district officials used the knowledge and skills acquired to conduct four community Barazas to sensitize and provide citizens with information on the ongoing government projects.

Local Governments need to be made aware of the incentives to communicate with the public. Local governments often don’t realize that communication is part of their job and is fundamental to their functioning. Government communication involves not only sending out persuasive messages to the public but also explaining working policies, creating awareness of the rights of citizens, government programmes and developing mechanisms that enable two-way communication between citizens and government. Through the recruitment of information officers, access to information for citizens is enabled and they can be able to demand accountability from duty bearers.

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