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Citizens can make their local governments work for them

During the implementation of the social accountability forum (Baraza program) organized by the Office of the Prime minister in Kikuube District last year, community members noted that the lack of information on various government programs made it hard for them to demand more accountable and transparent service delivery from their local leaders.

They find it extremely difficult to obtain information on resources and services. They find some civil servants are rarely at their work stations, some demand for bribes, and some are merely obstructive. 

Barazas are, in many ways, designed to fill this gap and enhance public involvement in holding officials accountable for service delivery in relation to the resources spent. The program is in line with SDG number 16 (promoting justice for all, through building effective and accountable institutions).

During the Baraza meetings, the district leaders explain to the people how public funds received during the previous Financial Year are utilized in their respective local governments and citizens react to these presentations.

During one of the sessions Twaweza was invited to attend, local officials, led by the Chief Administrative Officer and with all technical officers present, shared the budget and the status of expenditure and progress in the delivery of services. Later, citizens were given s an opportunity to share their experiences in the communities of Busisi, Kiziranfumbi, Bugambe, Kabwoya, and Kyangwali.

During the lively discussion, community members’ concerns were mainly on health, education, poor infrastructure, poverty, and security, access to water, corruption and lack of information from the local government offices.

The Minister in Charge of Bunyoro affairs Hon. Ernest Kiiza and other local government officials listened to the feedback and experiences and promised to address the challenges. They also asked community members to keep attending Barazas because this is a significant step towards ensuring transparency and accountability from local government officials. Some of these officials may well beignoring the needs of the community due to lack of demand and follow up from citizens.

Speaking at the Baraza organized in Bugambe Sub-County, the Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Kisembo said the barazas are bridging the huge gap between technical officials and citizens. These barazas empower citizens to express their concerns as to how resources should be used and technical officials respond to these concerns.

The Office of the Prime Minister conducted Social Accountability Fora (Barazas) in 12 Districts: Sembabule, Luwero, Rakai, Kanungu, Kikuube, Lwengo, Bundibugyo, Bulambuli, Bugiri, Kabarole, Masaka and Manafwa.

Read more: Accountability and Participation

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