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Into the light: citizens and access to information

While long-term legislation allows the government to unilaterally ban newspapers, 91% of citizens think that any ban should first be justified and defended in Court. More broadly, 8 out of 10 citizens (78%) say that access to public information would reduce wrong-doings and corruption, and 6 out of 10 (60%) think that the government should only be able to restrict information that is vital to national security. Citizens, therefore, are largely supportive of greater transparency and accountability.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Into the light? Citizens and access to information. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,811 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) between 10 and 25 February 2016.

In addition, more than half of citizens believe they would be able to access the following information: how to register a birth (71%), how to report a broken water point (63%), and information on how to report corruption (56%). However less than half of citizens think they will be able to get information on district budgets, spending and plans (42%), how much capitation grant their local school received (39%) or stock outs at local health facilities (35%).

Interestingly, such optimism is not based on experience as more than 8 out of 10 citizens report that they have never been to their water supply office, public primary school, local health facility or local government offices to seek information. In fact, citizens rely largely on radio (70%) and less on television (21%) as their main sources of information. When asked which media sources they trust, both radio (trusted by 80% of citizens) and television (trusted by 73% of citizens) were cited as the most trusted. By contrast newspapers are only trusted by 27% of people. Although social media is the least trusted and least used source of information, the Sauti za Wananchi survey indicates that 47% use social media while 53% do not.

Below are a selection of images for media use (right click on the image and select 'save image as'), the publications being released and the full dataset. You can also watch an animation about our methodology.

Read more: access to information citizens governance Sauti za Wananchi

Authors: John Mugo Melania Omengo Sana Jaffer

Editors: Aidan Eyakuze Risha Chande

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Organizations: Twaweza East Africa

Pages: 8

Type: Policy brief

Year: 2016

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