Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability in Uganda

Project Brief

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in partnership with ACFODE has received funding from the European Development Fund (EDF) as part of the Democratic Governance and Accountability Program(DGAP) for the Project “Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability in Uganda" to be implemented over a period of 24 months in 11 districts namely Jinja, Palisa and Soroti in Eastern Region, Masaka and Kiboga in the Central Region, Kabale, Kisoro and Mbarara in the West and Arua, Pader, Lira in the North.

With the new EDF grant for the project “Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability in Uganda”, KAS is partnering with Action for Development (ACFODE), a women’s NGO focussing on the promotion of women empowerment, gender equality and equity. 11 districts will be reached in the project designed to contribute to the enhancement of democratic processes and accountability at the local level. The districts are Jinja, Palisa and Soroti in the east; Kabale, Kisoro, and Mbarara in the west; Arua, Pader and Lira in the north; and Masaka and Kiboga in the central region.

The KAS-ACFODE project is specifically aimed at increasing the capacities of and mechanisms for civil society and elected representatives to fulfil their roles and responsibilities in a democratic system more effectively. This will be achieved through a set of activities including developing a civic education toolkit and then on that basis training civil society actors and supporting them implement civic education actions at the grassroots. In the same line, elected representatives in the districts will also be trained. The project also seeks to establish an Inter-District Forum for exchanging best practices in promoting democratic accountability at local level and enhancing cooperation between civil society actors and elected leaders.

In a rather unique intervention it is planned under the KAS-ACFODE project to hold “Democracy Fairs” in the districts, including reception of the “Democracy Torch” and display of a democracy exhibition – as symbols for mobilising commitment of leaders and citizens to democratic values and principles. The assessment of democratic governance and accountability in the 11 districts through a District Peer Review Mechanism (DPRM) and compilation of the results in a national report shall crown interventions under the 2-year project.

Background of the Project

This action is designed to contribute to the enhancement of democratic processes and accountability at the local level in Uganda. Over the years, Uganda has realised some significant milestones in strengthening democratic governance. The promulgation of the constitution in 1995 and the opening of political space 10 years later to adopt the multi-party system represent some of these milestones.

Nevertheless, in spite of such gains, several challenges still stand in the way to strengthening genuine democracy. The country is still struggling to have the recently re-introduced multi-party system fully established with several actors having not fully comprehended the tenets of political pluralism. With several limitations to realising full-blown democracy and accountability still existing at the national level, there is a much larger challenge at the local level. While the decentralised governance system adopted in 1993 envisions democracy, good governance and participation in decision making by local citizens as core values, 17 years later, decentralisation has not been satisfactorily utilised to strengthen good governance, widen democratic participation and to promote democratic accountability at the local level. The state of affairs at the local level also as established in a recent assessment supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung confirms that citizen participation in the decision making beyond elections remains weak which also implies they are unable to monitor their leaders and to demand for accountability. On the other hand, local government leaders are continuously accused of failure to deliver on people’s needs and demands not only in the delivery of services but also in information provision and accountability.

Civil society actors who are ideally expected to play a central role in the aggregation of citizen interests and in promoting and monitoring democratic accountability have not been able to adequately do so at the local level. This is partly due to the fact that like other actors, civil society too has not fully comprehended the tenets of good governance and democratic accountability and particularly how these are to function within the decentralised pluralistic system. This makes civil society less able to play an active and effective role in promoting democracy at the local level including a limited capacity to conduct grassroots civic education hence minimising opportunities for educating citizens on democratic governance. Democracy, good governance and accountability are development priorities clearly stipulated in Uganda’s National Development Plan. These concepts are also core values envisioned in the 1995 constitution and the decentralisation programme. Nevertheless, realising genuine democracy, good governance and accountability remains hampered by low levels of citizen participation, inadequate civic education, limited levels of awareness and appreciation of democratic principals by the leaders (and citizens) especially at the local level. Furthermore, there are ineffective mechanisms for demanding and enforcing accountability. With these shortcomings, important aspects of democracy remain weak and in some instances fully missing and thus proving political and social risks of instability. Targeted initiatives in this field are therefore crucially important first and foremost for deepening the understanding and appreciation of democratic principles and processes among leaders and local citizens. In addition, it is important to establish mechanisms for increased citizen participation in the governance process if genuine democracy and development are to be realised and sustained in Uganda.

With regard to civil society actors as well as government representatives, the limited availability of reference materials, inadequate knowledge and lack of opportunities for networking and collaboration has limited the capacity to fulfil their mandate in promoting democracy at the local level. This includes the failure to conduct effective grassroots civic education. The activities proposed under this action will enable CSO actors to gain deeper understanding and provide reference materials and mechanisms to aid civil society in the promotion of democracy at the local level. On the part of local councillors, Uganda is undergoing an election in the beginning of 2011. With new leaders coming into office, the demand to educate them about their roles and responsibilities and how to uphold the values of pluralism and democratic accountability becomes crucial. At the citizen level, low levels of civic education imply limited opportunities to learn about governance process including the roles and responsibilities of leaders and citizens in a democratic system. Coupled with the limited opportunities for interacting with leaders, effective political participation becomes difficult on the citizens’ part.

The democratic governance and accountability programme aims to support key governance priorities in Uganda’s development framework including among others a credible system of representation and a vibrant civil society. In light of this, strengthening mechanisms for democratic accountability as a foundation for good governance is essential. The proposed action identifies actors who are central to democracy, good governance and accountability i.e. civil society actors, local councillors and local citizens – and addresses existing gaps for them to be able to fulfil their functions in democratic governance.

Through this action, civil society will be enabled to take up a more active role in local level democracy promotion. The addressed local councillors will be capacitated to turn out as more effective representatives of the people who uphold the values of pluralism, good governance and democratic accountability in the conduct of their business including in local councils. The local citizens will learn about the democratic process – including their roles and responsibilities as well as getting opportunities to interface with and give feedback to their leaders. In addition, other interventions of the action such as a democracy assessments and formation of networks will help to build a more vibrant civil society and provide a basis for more informed interventions in promoting democracy at the local level. In sum, the action will address the following specific problems:

o A lack of capacity of civil society in working on and monitoring good governance and democratic accountability at the local level.

o Limited knowledge and awareness of their roles and responsibilities on the part of elected representatives which limits their ability to deliver effectively on their mandate.

o Limited opportunities for educating citizens on the tenets of good governance and democratic accountability including on the roles of elected leaders and citizens in the democratic process leading to a less informed and less empowered citizenry unable to monitor the actions of their leaders and to cause them to account.

o Lack of mechanisms for a continuous assessment and monitoring of the progress of and challenges to democracy, good governance and accountability at the local level which makes it difficult to design and implement informed interventions.

o Limited platforms for interaction between citizens and elected leaders.

Target Groups and Beneficiaries

The first target group of the action is civil society actors working at the local level in 11 districts across the four major regions of Uganda. In each district, a total of 20 CSO actors are targeted and hence altogether 220 actors across the 11 districts. A minimum of thirty percent (30%) of the targeted CSOs will be those working with women, youth, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and elderly people. The selection criteria will also include CSOs that have some experience working in the districts with both a qualitative and quantitative value and that demonstrate sustainability with clear plans of continuing to work on democracy promotion in the districts. Where they exist, network/umbrella organisations that bring together several actors will be given preference. The second target group is local councillors in the 11 districts where the action will be implemented. The councillors will have been newly elected and as expected, they generally will have limited awareness of their roles and responsibilities and how to serve as representatives of the people in a pluralistic system. A total of 275 councillors, 25 in each district (including the district speaker and executive) will be targeted. At least 30% will be councillors representing special groups – women, youth and persons with disabilities. The third target group are the local citizens in selected localities in the 11 districts. In each district a total of total of 1.320 local citizens are targeted. The final beneficiaries of the action will be the general population in the 11 districts where the action will be implemented, as well as the society of Uganda as a whole.

Project Description

The overall objective of this action is to contribute to the enhancement of democratic processes and accountability at the local level in Uganda. The specific objective of the action is to increase the capacities of and mechanisms for civil society and elected representatives to fulfil their roles and responsibilities in a democratic system more effectively.

Through a range of educational and networking initiatives, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V. (KAS) and its partner Action for Development (ACFODE) will strengthen the knowledge of civil society actors to help reinforce democratic processes at local level. By training elected leaders and establishing best practice exchange, accountability of local governments will be increased. Theses initiatives will be complemented with a set of tools and mechanisms to provide the grounds for increased democratic principles. The duration of the action shall be 24 months. The proposed action will consist of a number of activities which will lead to the following expected results:

Result 1: Enhanced capacity of civil society actors to promote democratic governance and accountability at local government level and to conduct grassroots civic education The result will be achieved by a combination of activities which complement one another. Through training a considerable amount of trainers, important content will be passed on to a group of motivated civil society actors. Before passing their newly gained knowledge onwards through multiplier effects, trail and review initiatives will be conducted. Therewith, high quality and tailor made action can be ensured. By installing networking platforms, cooperation, dialogue and best practice exchange can be initiated and developed into a sustainable system.

Result 2: Increased knowledge and awareness of elected leaders at local government level of their roles and responsibilities The result will be achieved by a set of activities which complement one another: Through training elected councillors, essential information will be passed on to newly elected leaders. Therewith, they will be able to start their leadership function more knowledgeable and better informed of the processes and challenges. By initiating network platforms, a culture of inter-district dialogue and sharing of experiences and best practices in promoting democratic governance can be built.

Result 3: Mechanisms to increase national and local awareness on, recognition of and commitment to democratic principles and processes within society are established The result will be achieved by a number of complementary activities: By introducing the democracy torch, national and local level actors will be mobilised to commit to the principals of democratic governance. Platforms for interface between local governance actors will be created thereby establishing opportunities for continued dialogue and information dissemination. By developing tools and frameworks for democracy assessments and inter-district review, a basis for continuous dialogue and exchange on democracy gaps and for realising tailor-made interventions will be in place.

Activities for result 1:

The activities grouped under this result will focus on training as capacity building for the civil society actors with the aim of expansion through multiplier effects, and in addition initiate networking and trigger long term exchange mechanisms.

Activity 1: Development and launch of a Civic Education Tool Kit on democratic governance and accountability at local level

Activity 2: Development of a Training Curriculum for civil society actors to be trained as trainers on democratic governance and accountability

Activity 3: 11 Training of Trainers workshops for 220 civil society actors on democratic governance and accountability and the application of the Civic Education Toolkit

Activity 4: 44 initial trainings for 1320 local citizens at the grassroots level in the 11 districts on democratic governance and accountability conducted by the newly trained trainers

Activity 5: 4 regional training workshops for the 88 newly trained trainers to review the conducted grassroots trainings and to strengthen their capacity to plan, mobilise resources for and implement further trainings

Activity 6: 1 national workshop for 44 civil society actors from the districts for exchanging best practices in promoting democratic accountability at local government level and enhancing cooperation by forming an inter-district forum

Activity 7: 1 national networking meeting for 44 civil society actors from the districts for a continuous dialogue and cooperation within the established inter-district forum

Activities for result 2:

These activities are designed to target the enhancement of the roles and responsibilities of official representatives of local government structures. Based on a best practice approach, existing experience will be introduced to newly elected councillors.

Activity 8: Development of a Training Curriculum for local councillors on democratic accountability and the roles and responsibilities of elected leaders

Activity 9: 11 training workshops for 275 local councillors on their roles and responsibilities as elected leaders and democratic accountability beyond elections

Activity 10: 2 national workshops with 44 elected leaders from the 11 districts for sharing experiences and best practices on democratic accountability

Activities for result 3:

The activities leading to this result are intended to trigger awareness and recognition for democratic processes. Through developing tools and platforms, the target group will be equipped with means for sustainable action in this field.

Activity 11: Design and launch of a “Democracy Torch” and a democracy exhibition to promote the values of good governance and democratic accountability at local level

Activity 12: 11 “Democracy Fairs” and reception of the “Democracy Torch” in all targeted districts to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of democratic principles and rights at local level

Activity 13: Developing a District Peer Review Mechanism (DPRM) and conducting a District Self-Assessment and Peer Review in all targeted districts

Activity 14: Compiling and launching one national report about the results of the District Peer Review Mechanism (DPRM)

Activity 15: 11 public forums with 40 participants in the districts to disseminate the results of the District Peer Review Mechanism (DPRM) and share best practices identified

published

Uganda, September 21, 2011