Monday, February 27, 2012

Kisoro District Councilors and CSO Representatives trained on Good Governance and Accountability

Kisoro district is located in South Western Uganda. It is one of the 11 districts benefiting from the project titled “Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability in Uganda” which is being implemented by KAS and ACFODE. From February 20-25, 2012, ACFODE team conducted trainings for district local government officials and civil society organizations in Kisoro district. The district boasts of plush scenery, cool temperatures throughout the year and mountainous terrain. Bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, Kisoro district has potential for thriving trade. Despite these attributes all the 28 district local council representatives who attended the councilors training identified poverty and underdevelopment as issues that continue to affect majority of the population in the district.

The major outputs from the trainings included: sharing of knowledge and skills that will be vital to enable the councilors to access information that was previously inaccessible. A discussion on their powers, roles and responsibilities enabled them to gain confidence and lay strategies on how to create more transparency and accountability in the district. One councilor stated that Lack of proper accountability coupled with lack of skills to bring technocrats to account remains a major hindrance to development in the district.

They also identified the issues that prevent them from frequenting their sub-counties in order to seek for views and ideas from citizens. One councilor stated that “What also makes our work difficult is that when we go back to report to the voters and to seek their views they ask for money” They recommended that citizens should be sensitized on what the roles and responsibilities of local councilors and their responsibilities as citizens. . “I am glad that this project will address these challenges.” Hon. Kanavita William said.

In sharing local experiences common human rights violations were identified and include: rape, defilement, domestic violence, early marriages, underage prostitution and training of young girls by older women to join prostitution. The councilors identified lack of information and ignorance of laws and policies pertinent to addressing the said issues as major obstacles to their work. Lack of team work and joint advocacy among councilors on some arising issues were also noted as hindrances to addressing the human rights issues identified.

The councilors resolved to work more closely as a team to ensure that they access information, discuss ways in which to address arising challenges, hold joint consultations with technocrats in the district, rejuvenate the district public accounts committee, budget for monitoring government programs in the work plans of the district to enable them play their role in this regard as enshrined in the Local Government Act among others. They also requested for more skills training on identified areas that are pertinent to playing their roles and responsibilities. From February 22-25 2012, civil society actors in Kisoro district were trained on good governance and accountability.

They were equipped with knowledge and skills to carryout civic education at the grassroots level. One major finding about CSOs in Kisoro is that they remain weak, few and with limited skills and knowledge in conducting civic education on accountability and good governance. The project will therefore play a major role in providing the skills and knowledge necessary for the few organizations to make a difference in Kisoro on issues of accountability and good governance.

Sheila Kinaheirwe
Project Officer, Action for Development (ACFODE)
EU Funded Project (Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability in Uganda)
Mobile: +256 792 73 76 25

Monday, February 13, 2012

Loice Atuhaire’s Touching Story

If you sat back and asked yourself what the lowest point of your life was, we bet it wouldn’t be as deep and painful as that of Ms. Loice Atuhaire. At 24, Loice is now working as a secretary in Pastoral Women Alliance to Break Cultural chains (PAWAB), an organisation she thanks God for helping her break free from cultural practices that tore her emotionally and mentally. We found her in Kiboga district while carrying out a training of trainers (T.O.T) workshop for Civil Society Organisations in Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability, and this is what she had to say.

“To me, culture makes you do certain inhuman things that can destroy and shutter your life.” she started. “It all begun when my father plotted for me to marry one of the herd’s men in Rwamata sub-county, my home village not so far from Kiboga district, without my notice, love and consent. I was 16 years old by then, endeavouring to complete my senior three (S.3) in Rwamata Secondary School.” Lace stopped, fighting back the tears as she recalled the fateful night that was supposed to be her wedding. “On that day, at around 7:00 pm my mother came to me holding a few of my belongings wrapped together in a small bed sheet. She told me to quickly clean up myself; claiming that I was going to stay with different people. I didn’t have anytime to take a proper bath since my father was outside hurriedly waiting for me on his fading bicycle.

“At that point, I knew I had been sold off to a certain man because this was culturally accepted norm of marriage in our pastoral community. I just kept praying to God that the man I was going to get married to wouldn’t be some old person with more that one wife but however my prayers fell onto deaf ears because where I was going was much worse than some old person. To date, I still regret why I didn’t try to escape that night because my own parents had sold me to the worst cruel and ruthless family you could ever imagine.

“The journey to the Rwabushogeyo’s place took about 3 hours. I was in tears all the way, scared to death since my father had warned to slay my head off if I dared to escape. “You should be happy since this family chose you instead of the other girls. Now clean your tears before I pound your face to ashes.” He said to me as we got nearer to the Rwabushogeyo’s place.

As it normally is, they welcomed me with wide open arms and gave us each a pot of milk. As soon as my father went back home, my mother-in-law told her son Rwabushogeyo to take me to his elder brother’s hut since he didn’t have one of his own. Rwabushogeyo might have been two or three years older than me but I tell you, he had the strength like that of a lion. He started off by whipping my tender body with a rope; asking why I was crying like a baby yet they gave off so many cows as bride price before forcefully engaging me into unprotected sex. I felt dirty and unworthy like never before. From then on, I was simultaneously bounced from my husband to his brothers and also to their elderly father.

Since I was the newest entry to this homestead, they felt they had a right to do whatever they wanted to me. Be it sex, beating, trashing... name it.” She stopped to clean her tears. Loice went on to tell us that in Rwamata village, sex is termed as a cup of tea. “Before tearing my dress off, my father in law would say words as, ‘Ninyenda ndebe ente zange ahi zagyire.’ Roughly translated as “i want to see what my bride price bought.”

“I didn’t get time to rest because; I was always used by whoever wanted to have sex, beaten because i would not perform wifely duties to their expectations. Day by day, I’d be seated in the hut praying but nothing happened. Instead as an answer, any one of Rwabushogeyo’s brothers would enter asking to find out where their cows went”.

It was after one year of misery when Loice decided to escape with the help of a friend who stays in Kiboga town. She pretended as though she was going to fetch some water from the nearby pond and to this day she thanks God for that day because by his grace, she managed to break free from the kind of life she was living. “I tell you, i ran as fast as i could; not wanting to face any of the members of that family once again. As soon as i reached Kiboga Town, I knelt down before my God and friend and gave thanks to the lord who finally answered me.” After two week of settling down, Loice discovered that she was expecting though she can’t trace who the father of the baby is. She later joined (PAWAB), a group that has since showed her love, care and became a source of income to look after her child who is in primary six right now. “I will forever dislike my ex-husband and in-laws because the only love they ever given me was canes, physical abuse, cuts and brutal sex” says Loice.

Now six years down the road, Loice together with her 6 year old girl appear healthy and rich at heart. “One thing am sure of is that I will do what ever it is to protect my little girl from any brutality awaiting custom.” She also adds that she plans on starting her own business to support them and later go for further studies to improve on her career.

For further information or assistance, you can contact Loice on Tel: 0751583656

Submitted by Jean Muhumuza
Member - ACFODE

Monday, February 6, 2012


On 17 June 2002 at 12:45 A.M., Mrs. Amina admitted her 8-year-old daughter to hospital emergency services in Djibouti because of severe blood loss from a gaping wound in the young girl’s vulva. The child was completely bloodless with all the signs of acute anemia. Because of the urgency of the situation, the young girl was immediately placed under the care of physicians who attempted to stop the blood flow and began a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts undertaken to save the child, she died two hours after being admitted to the hospital.

Here’s how the tragedy began for mother and daughter. On the morning of 16th June at 6:00 A.M., this mother placed her 8-year-old daughter, a lively little girl brimming with health, joy and vitality, into the hands of a traditional excision practitioner from a disreputable area of the city. This woman’s only tool for the FGM procedure was a well-used half of a razor blade, and the only painkillers she provided were sugar and powdered myrrh (an herb). After a short reading from the Koran to drive away evil spirits, one of the girl’s aunts was called upon to hold her firmly. Immobilized, she was placed on a stool with her legs spread apart. Other female relations and neighbors helped the aunt to ensure the child was unable to move.

Despite the young girl’s cries and supplications, the practitioner began her work, cutting away all the external genital organs—labia minora, clitoris and labia majora. Next, she sprinkled the wound with a mixture of sugar and myrrh, which was meant to stop the bleeding, and then used a scrap of cloth to tie the child’s legs together in order to bring the two open parts of the wound together to heal Read more...

An estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and more than 3 million girls are at risk for cutting each year on the African continent alone. FGM/C is generally performed on girls between ages 4 and 12, although it is practiced in some cultures as early as a few days after birth or as late as just prior to marriage. FGM/C poses serious physical and mental health risks for women and young girls. According to a 2006 WHO study, FGM/C can be linked to increased complications in childbirth and even maternal deaths. Other side effects include severe pain, hemorrhage, tetanus, infection, infertility, cysts and abscesses, urinary incontinence, and psychological and sexual problems. Since the early 1990s, FGM/C has gained recognition as a health and human rights issue.

In Uganda, Kapchorwa district is a tiny town in the remote mountains of Uganda where the Sabiny people live. Isolated by geography and poverty they are the only people in Uganda to circumcise their women, and they are fiercely protective of their culture. This is an environment in which people believe an uncircumcised woman is not fit to gather grain from a granary, let alone be married.

To end all such injustices February 6 was unanimously adopted at the International Conference on Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) organized by Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) from February 4 to 6, 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Representatives at the Conference came from 49 countries including 4 First Ladies (from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry and Mali), Ministers, and Parliamentarians. Others included Religious, Community and Youth leaders. Since 2003, the IAC with her National Committees in 28 African countries, Affiliates and Partners across the world in Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and USA calls on Governments, Parliamentarians, UN Agencies, NGOs, donor community, Religious leaders, Community leaders, Youth, communities and members of the Press to make a greater commitment to ensure the elimination of FGM.

The objective of observing February 6 is to draw the attention, at the international and national levels to efforts that need to be exerted to free women and girls from female genital mutilation and to accelerate action towards its elimination by the set target date of 2010 according to the Common Agenda for Action or by 2015 being the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

I therefore challenge everyone reading this to take up some action to put an end to FGM in their respective communities.

By Andrew Ssekirevu
Action For Development

Friday, February 3, 2012


The second round of training workshops for local government leaders and civil society actors has taken place in Kiboga district. Implemented by ACFODE and KAS, the activities are part of the EU funded project: Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability.
The councilors’ workshop in Kiboga took place January 30th to February 1st 2012 while that of civil society was held from February 1st to 4th. All members of the district council have been trained on the concepts of democratic governance and accountability with emphasis put on their roles and responsibilities as elected representatives of the people. In addition, the workshop was a platform for district council members to interrogate existing challenges and by this they have been able to build a consensus on a set of actions they will undertake to deepen democracy, good governance and accountability in the district. The participants recognized that as a district council they have to assume their mandate of strengthening the values of good governance and accountable leadership. The councilors committed to building more effective linkages with their electorate through regular meetings and other interactive platforms.
On the other hand, a highly motivated team of civil society actors have been trained as trainers on good governance and accountability. These will be supported within the framework of the project to carry out grassroots civic education activities in the district. The 18 civil society actors trained present a pool of capacitated individuals who will steer citizen education interventions as a way of strengthening the demand side of democracy and accountability.
Although located barely 132 kilometers from the capital Kampala, Kiboga comparatively lags behind most districts in central Uganda in terms of development. The material infrastructure is in many aspects below the status of most districts in region. Yet the approximately 17,000 inhabitants of this area which is strategically located on the way to the centre of Uganda’s petrochemical industry, Hoima, have the advantage of a land endowed with fertile untapped soils with a generally favorable climate – particularly for agriculture. The wallowing poverty in spite of several development interventions by government and other development agencies points to a strong need for strengthening citizen participation as the only mechanism for implementing effective and sustainable development actions. It is surprising that during the councilors’ workshop, local government leaders noted the lack of community ownership of development programmes as a major challenge. They observed that the people barely know what is going on and how it is being done. Local citizens therefore do not feel being part of the process. This is why according to the participants it is common to find people who refer to livestock donated under the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) programmes as “government animals” which they clearly distinguish from their own animals.
If people participation in the development process is to be realized, citizens need to first and foremost understand their roles and responsibilities. This will strengthen the demand side for citizen participation and good governance. On the other hand, elected leaders need to be aware of their responsibility to get the people involved in the promotion of accountability.. In this regard, the KAS-ACFODE project aims to contribute to the enhancement of democratic processes and accountability at the local level. Its specific objective is to increase the capacities of and mechanisms for civil society and elected representatives to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in a democratic system more effectively.
Under the project, the training workshops are a step in a set of carefully selected interventions in which local citizens will be educated on democratic accountability. A package of instruments including fact cards and comic strips have been compiled into a civic education toolkit available in both English and local languages. These will be used to conduct civic education at the grassroots and will be handed over to citizens at the local levels. Democracy fairs combined with a reception of democracy torch will be held in each of the project districts. An assessment of the state of democratic governance and accountability will be conducted through a district peer review mechanism. Besides Kiboga, other districts where the project is being implemented are: Arua, Lira and Pader in northern Uganda, Kabale, Kisoro and Mbarara in the west, Jinja, Palisa and Soroti in the east and Masaka in the central region.
Present at the workshops included ACFODE Executive Director and Project Coordinator, Ms Regina Bafaki; Project Manager Yusuf Kiranda; as well as Project Officers Mathias Kamp and Sheila Kinaheirwe.

Submitted By
Sheila Kinaheirwe
Project Officer
Action For Development