Promoting Access to Information in Bunyoro Sub-Region

‘Access to information is the engine of development’ – It is a right guaranteed under the article 41 of 1995 constitution of Uganda, which is again operationalized by the Access to Information Act (ATIA) 2005. In Uganda, most district officials and the general public are unaware of this law. Consequently, the key components of the ATIA are not effectively put into practise. To tackle this challenge, Hub for Investigative Media (HIM) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) conducted a Workshop from the 28th to the 30th of May in Hoima to provide an insight in the ATIA as well as to deepen the understanding of access to information for a functioning democracy.

This workshop was one out of a series of workshop activities, which took place in various districts targeting firstly journalists and Civic society actors and secondly local government leaders. Mr. Eddy Muhumuza HIM and facilitator of the first session strengthened the participants' knowledge and usage of the ATIA as well as the access to information tools which in turn leads to an improvement in citizens’ access to information. He emphasised the fact that access to information is a basic human right.

He explains that the ATIA applies to all information and records of government ministries and aims at promoting an efficient, effective, transparent and accountable government. While the first day targeted journalists and civil society actors to explain them their role in accessing information, the second day aimed to educate local government officials about their legal duties to provide information for the public.

Mr. Donnas Ojok, our Programme officer, provided a brief insight in the importance of Social Media as an essential access to Information tool. Within all the Social Media tools existing, WhatsApp remains Uganda’s most used channel, due to its user friendly and direct service. He emphasised the importance of social media for governmental work, since it is bridging the gap between the ordinary citizen and the government.

Highlight of the second day was a Public Dialogue counting about 100 Participants including leaders and journalists from the two days’ workshop, CSO's and the general public to discuss how ATIA can be helpful in governance and the increasing relevance of access to information as a 21st century development pre-requisite.

The general agreement during the dialogue was the fact that for any society to function effectively, access to information must be guaranteed. For this to happen, ‘Citizens should demand for information and leaders should provide it’ noted Perez Kyomuhangi, the Hoima District Information Officer

Written by Eva Wandinger