Monday, September 23, 2013

The State of Democratic Governance and Accountability at the Local Government Level in Uganda

The Country Director of KAS, Ms. Angelika Klein and ACFODE Director Ms. Regina Bafaki launch the report with representatives from civil society and government 

On 19th September 2013, Action For Development (ACFODE) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) launched the final report on the state of democratic governance and accountability at local government level in Uganda. The report was the final product of the project: "Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability" implemented with support from the European Union under the Democratic Governance and Accountability Programme. 

It is an outcome of an assessment conducted in 11 districts in Uganda namely: Kiboga and Masaka in the central region, Jinja, Palisa, and Soroti in the eastern region, Arua, Lira, and Pader in the northern region, and Kabale, Kisoro, and Mbarara in the western region. The assessment tool was designed to monitor and measure the state of governance in the selected districts and inform major stakeholders about key trends and needed interventions.

The assessment established a general improvement of democratic trends in the districts characterized by general elections that enlist high levels of citizen participation, the presence of frameworks for citizen engagement in the decision making including in the district planning processes, as well as increasing opportunities for participation of women and young adults in decision making. The assessment however highlighted a number of issues that require urgent improvement including;

• Limited awareness of local citizens about their power and the extent of this power in the democratic system. This restricts their ability to exercise their right to promote and demand for democratic practice and accountability. Citizens are not fully confident to demand accountability from their leaders. 

• The disconnection between elected leaders and citizens, which facilitates an atmosphere of limited consultation and feedback between the electorate and their democratic representatives. 

• Limited transparency in decision making, especially regarding the allocation of limited resources within the districts. 

• Failure to hold elections for lower local councils, which has promoted illegitimacy and ineffectiveness, thereby curtailing a key channel to grassroots democratic participation. 

• Unfair politics, which is especially disadvantageous to the political opposition as their activities at the grassroots are limited by local authorities. 

• Limited levels of identification with and ownership of public affairs and resources, among citizens. Also, a culture of tolerance for corruption among all stakeholders, including citizens. 

• Limited channels for citizens to access information 

ACFODE Executive Director, Ms. Regina Bafaki, making remarks after the launch of the report

The key recommendations from the assessment were:

• Civic education can no longer continue to be a sporadic endeavor usually targeted around election times. The several calls that have been made for continuous civic education should be heeded. This intervention needs to be targeted towards elected leaders in as much the same way as it will address local citizens. While civil society organizations can continue to play a strong role in this regard, it is important that the Uganda Human Rights Commission in fulfillment of its constitutional mandate takes lead as the front runner in carrying out civic education.

• The long-existing demand for elections at lower local councils needs to be met. Since their elections have not been conducted for the last two electoral cycles, the existing office bearers are generally illegitimate and less effective. However, the units avail the state with governance platforms close to regular citizens, thus providing a key avenue for democratic participation. 

• Local authorities in the districts, sub counties and villages need to demonstrate a better appreciation of the pluralistic political system, which currently governs Uganda. In particular they need to desist from unnecessary limitations on the free operation of political parties and other legal associations that express interest in engaging in public discourse on political topics. Public institutions cannot act partisan in a multiparty setting.

• The close interconnection between the state and politics needs to be addressed. Within the districts there remain several public officers who act as if they represent the ruling party. Their actions have been reported to curtail free political competition.

• Budget limitations withstanding, elected leaders in the districts need to come up with innovative ways to improve contacts with citizens. The idea of a public accountability day at district and other lower levels presents some of the initiatives that can be considered. This initiative has already been taken up in Kiboga district.

• There is need for strong public education to promote zero tolerance for corruption. Citizens also need to identify more with public affairs and hold ownership of public resources.

• There is also need to improve and sensitize citizens about existing channels for accessing information from local governance units.

Story credit:

Photo credit: Esther Namitala, KAS

Monday, September 9, 2013

ACFODE Strengthens Women Administrators Forums in Namutumba, Dokolo and Padere Districts

The newly elected Executive Committee for the Pader District Women Administrators Forum

From the 2nd to 7th of September 2013, ACFODE with support from Diakonia and the Netherlands government carried out workshops aimed at building the capacity of female public administrators in Pader, Dokolo and Namutumba districts to harness their individual and collective potential for greater influence in their districts of leadership. The workshops enabled ACFODE to follow up on the commitments made by the female administrators during dialogues held in September 2012 in the targeted districts. Specifically, commitments were made to form and enforce three forums for women in public administration, that is, the Pader District Women Administrators Forum, Dokolo District Women Administrator's Forum and the Namutumba District Women Administrators Forum.

In addition, the participants were trained on gender sensitive planning, coalition building and goal setting. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the district forums exposed a number of common weaknesses such as; low attendance to forum meetings due to great distance between members sub counties of operation, poor coordination of the forums due to a shaky Executive Structure, and low self esteem among several members. 

As a result, the forums were facilitated in a session on goal, vision, mission and objective setting. This was followed by re- elections of the existing Executive Committees, in order to ensure the existence of leaders who are committed to the attainment of the forum vision.

Despite the apparent challenges however, the workshop participants were able to report significant achievements both as individuals and as district forums. Some of these include;


My name is Alice and I am a beneficiary of the first training for female public administrators organized by ACFODE in 2012. Before the training, I had submitted to the District Service Commission (DSC) a request for the promotion of two female staff, that is, Lamaci Christine an Accounts Assistant and Amony Christine Ruth a Health Inspector. The person working as the Secretary, DSC at the time refused to work on the two files simply because he had a negative attitude towards female employees. All my efforts to follow up the matter were fruitless.

When ACFODE brought a workshop for women administrators in 2012, they trained us on the importance of our voices in the society and the power of a good legacy as a woman administrator. I regained confidence and determination to return to the DSC. I was relieved to find a new Secretary in place, and I resubmitted my request after explaining the importance of promoting the two female employees.

As a result of my efforts, Lamaci Christine was promoted to senior accounts assistant. Although Ruth Christine Amony's promotion hasn't been realized yet, I am confident that it is currently being processed.


I attended the ACFODE training in September 2012 and I was able to learn a number of things. I learned that it is important to leave a good legacy behind as a leader and that an effective leader makes her voice heard on issues of importance. I realized that in my school, girls were afraid to take up leadership positions. Therefore, in October 2012 I instituted empowerment sessions for girls. As a result, the girls stood for leadership positions in 2013 and as I speak, the overall Head Prefect at Iguli Primary school is a girl, Annet Akello, while the Head of English is also a girl, Flavia Egol. I am determined to empower these girls; recently a few months ago I was called away from school for a day and I appointed Annet Akello as AGG Head Teacher, although she was afraid of the responsibility. When I returned, the school was in order and everyone including teachers were able to give her respect because of her maturity in leadership. I was impressed and glad that her leadership skills are being developed.

I also encourage my female teaching staff regularly to develop their potential, and even apply for positions of leadership whenever an opportunity arises. This is because most of them are shy and afraid of men. However, I am glad to report that the Dokolo district local government is set to advertise for head teacher positions in government schools in October, and my female teachers are eagerly looking forward to submitting their applications. I am glad that they are not shying away from great responsibility.

In addition, one of my female teachers, who was totally dependent on her husband for money, failed to take her children to school when he denied his responsibility. I encouraged her to take leadership of her home, and taught her how to budget her salary. She was soon able to open a simple lock-up next to her home where she sells bread that she bakes from home as well as some agricultural products including simsim, millet and maize from her garden. Her children are back in school and she is a stronger woman.


It was evening when my phone rang and I was informed that one of the members of the Dokolo District Women Administrators Forum, Ms Lydia Ogwal, had lost her husband. Thankfully, luck was on our side because the Forum committee meeting was scheduled for the next day. I used my office as the committee secretary to present to the meeting the need to offer emotional and financial support to the bereaved member. I further requested the committee to send representatives to the funeral.

To my satisfaction, the members gave financial assistance to the tune of 900,000/- and others ensured their physical presence at the burial. As a result of our concerted effort to attend the burial as a forum, we gained visibility from other districts that were represented. This experience taught us a great lesson; that the formation of a forum for women public administrators is a strong factor that unites us despite our diverse professions. Therefore, we are determined to maintain its existence.


After the ACFODE training in September 2012, I learned that as a leader, it is important to leave a good legacy. Therefore, in July 2013 I gathered all 6 female teachers from my school and formed a female teachers association. The association exists to promote the economic development of its members. Every month members contribute 30,000/- each to a construction fund and the lump sum is given to a chosen member to build her family home. So far, our group Treasurer has been able to Plaster the walls of her house, as a result of this fund.

Our association also collects an extra 3,000/-, from members on a weekly basis as part of a fund to purchase agricultural products. At the end of the month, we divide the products amongst ourselves and trade them for regular income. I am grateful to ACFODE for teaching me such relevant leadership skills, which are of benefit not only to me, but people around me.


The Namutumba District Technical Planning Committee had only one woman representative, before the ACFODE training in September 2012. After learning about the need for greater representation of women public administrators in decision making positions, we as the Namutumba District Women Administrators Forum encouraged more women to apply for positions, when vacancies became available. As a result, 3 more members of the forum applied and were accepted into the district planning committee.

In addition, due to the increased representation of the forum on the committee, we have been able to advocate for women to be given special consideration for promotions. Some members of the forum have been promoted at the District due to this effort, they include;

Ms. Rose Kagere- Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (ACAO).

Ms. Esther Nandase- Senior Probation Officer.

Zainabu Kagoya- Senior Personnel Officer



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Thursday, August 1, 2013

ACFODE Convenes Women Politicians in a National Experience Sharing Dialogue on Affirmative Action

ACFODE, under the project “Empowered to Act: Enhancing Women and Youth Effective Participation in Politics and Decision Making” partnered with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to conduct a one-day national Experience Sharing Dialogue for female leaders under the theme: “Is the time up for affirmative action for Ugandan women in politics?” (Reflecting and Strategizing for 2016) on 25th July 2013. The dialogue brought together 70 female councilors from Apac, Pader, Oyam, Lira, Pallisa, Kampala, Rukungiri, Kisoro, Kiboga and Kole, representatives from the academia, civil society, ACFODE members and relevant government ministries to reflect on affirmative action in Uganda, share experiences and develop strategies for enhancing women’s effective participation in the 2016 elections. 

The Woman MP for Apac district Hon. Ajok Lucy contributing 
to a discussion during the dialogue

Through interactive sessions covering public perceptions of affirmative action and the effective utilization of affirmative action, the dialogue provided a platform for women politicians to celebrate the positive impact of affirmative action in Uganda's politics. In a session facilitated by Hon. Emma Boona, the woman MP for Mbarara, the officials recognized the key role of affirmative action in creating a conducive environment for the enactment of several gender sensitive laws such as the Domestic violence Act, Trafficking in Person’s Act and Female Genital Mutilation Act. They also credited the increased advocacy for funding to pertinent sectors such as the health sector to the increased number of female politicians in power as a result of affirmative action. 

However, a number of challenges were noted in the process of implementing affirmative action, which were cited as critical matters of engagement with relevant stakeholders in order to map a way forward. Of note was the fact that despite possessing the minimum requirements for entry into parliament, many women politicians lack essential skills in effective lobbying and advocacy and are therefore largely unable to yield positive results after debating on pertinent women’s issues. In addition, the existing patriarchal societal values exhibited in parliament, which position women beneath men have slowed down the effectiveness of the women leaders' mandate.

As a result of elaborate discussions on the subject, the women leaders were able to utilize the dialogue space as an avenue to strategize on the next step for women politicians in preparation for the elections in 2016. One of the key principles identified was unity of women in leadership behind a common goal, an ideal which was supported as a major factor in empowering women leaders at both local and national levels to develop a strong, uncontestable agenda to front for the women's movement in the coming years. The Leaders also agreed to prioritize capacity enhancement for women in leadership in crucial areas such as advocacy, lobby, public speaking and research skills, among other skills.

ACFODE therefore calls upon all Ugandan citizens to support women in political leadership. We call upon all male members of parliament to support the advancement of and the debate of critical issues affecting women. We also call upon religious and cultural leaders to institute better mechanisms for promoting the dignity of women. We also call on Civil Society Organizations to build the capacities of women MPs and young aspiring women leaders in areas of lobbying, and research in order to strengthen their effectiveness. We call on all Ugandan citizens to support women in leadership.

Compiled by

Nancy Nandudu

Public Relations and Communications Department

Action For Development

ACFODE Engages Local Female Leaders for Quality Representation

Women Councillors from Namutumba District sharing the process of women 
leader's involvement in the management of the district

Irrefutably, women in Uganda today have become more visible in politics and governance largely due to the onset of affirmative action. However, this increased visibility that is manifest in the growing number of female leaders at both local and national level is yet to translate into effective representation in the different fora, which they represent. This can partly be attributed to the knowledge and skills gap existent among the women leaders, who are undoubtedly faced with several other challenges that negatively affect their productivity.

In this regard, ACFODE conducted training workshops for local women councillors from the districts of Pader, Dokolo and Namutumba in a bid to improve and enhance their leadership capabilities. The workshops, which were conducted under the project “Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development” brought together 60 local female leaders from selected sub-counties in the three target districts from 22nd to 27th July 2013.

The women councillors were equipped with knowledge and skills in Lobbying and Advocacy, Budgeting, Caucusing and Monitoring and Evaluation. The forums provided a platform for experience sharing on the various processes of budgeting and monitoring of government programmes in their respective districts, and also enabled them to share best practices while undertaking lobby and advocacy initiatives.

The bulk of experiences shared from the three districts clearly highlighted flaws in the system of governance and capacity development, which if left unaddressed shall continue to hinder the effectiveness of women's political participation. Of note was the minimal involvement of the women leaders in all decision making processes, as well as limited skills among the leaders, for instance in management and lobbying.

By the end of the two days training, six (6) women caucuses had been formed, two (2) in each of the project districts of operation. The leaders pledged to use the caucuses as forums for raising, discussing and lobbying for key pressing community issues. One of the councillors from Namutumba district had this to say of the training “I now fully understand the budgeting process; formerly the technical wing hasn’t involved us women leaders in this process but with the knowledge I have gained about the budgeting process coupled with the skills in lobbying and advocacy, I can firmly say my representation is going to change.”

Compiled by:

Nancy Nandudu

Public Relations and Communications Officer

Action For Development (ACFODE)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

ACFODE Empowers GBV Clubs in Secondary Schools Take the Lead in the Prevention and Handling of GBV cases.

Under the project "Advocating for Gender and Reproductive Rights", ACFODE with support from UNFPA and UWONET facilitated the development of 32 Gender Based Violence (GBV) clubs in selected schools throughout the districts of Moroto, Yumbe, Kotido, Kaabong, Kanungu, Oyam, Katakwi and Mubende. The main objective of these clubs was to aid in increasing students and school administrators access to quality GBV management services.

Members of the GBV club in Katakwi High School performing
 a skit they composed called "Daddy Stop Beating Mummy"
Over time, the GBV clubs in each of the schools have carried out successful advocacy drives throughout their campuses, effectively changing attitudes about GBV and gender equality amongst both the peers as well as the various school administrations. Through experience sharing/training workshops held in the various districts and schools from 3rd-20th, the full positive impact of the clubs on the schools and communities were realised. Some of the positive outcomes include;

  • Growing influence of GBV clubs in persuading school administrators to carry out their roles and responsibilities in the fight against GBV.
  • Open sharing of SGBV cases and referral pathways during GBV club meetings have reduced the rate of teacher-student abuse cases for fear of redress by the clubs.
  • The distribution of posters, fliers and other Behavioral Change (BCC) materials has raised awareness among GBV club members to persistently and effectively raise their voices against GBV in their schools and communities.
  • The open sharing structure of the GBV clubs has enabled the students address real issues affecting them as well as the negative impact of GBV including contraction of HIV/AIDS, and dropping out of school, thus promoting a culture of self preservation.
  • GBV clubs have advocated successfully for the introduction of Counseling and guidance services in their schools to aid in redress of GBV cases.
  • Some GBV clubs have partnered with other school clubs, such as Debate clubs, Red Cross and Music Dance and Drama clubs to raise awareness on GBV more effectively.

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development

ACFODE Facilitates the Formation of Favourable School Policies to Promote a Conducive Learning Environment for School Girls in Kisoro District

ACFODE with support from EIRENE and BMZ conducted trainings on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in 21 schools in Kirundo and Nyarusiza Sub-Counties of Kisoro district from 18th to 21st June 2013. The trainings, which were attended by 42 selected primary school teachers and two nursing officers from Kisoro District Hospital, aimed to equip the crucial gate keepers of societal change with skills in prevention and handling of cases of SGBV. From Senior Women and Men teachers and patrons of school clubs like music, dance and drama or debate to medical attendants, the interactive sessions reached varied target groups with resourceful information on sexual violence, basic child counselling skills and peer education programmes.

Teachers from one of the participating schools formulating
action plans to handle SGBV 
Participants benefitted from group discussions, through which various roadblocks to erasing SGBV in schools were identified, such as; sexual favours in reward for marks from teachers, parental negligence, poverty, adolescence, and ignorance. The teachers, who alleged that the high school dropout rates were majorly caused by sexual violence, also learned how to offer psychological support to survivors of sexual violence acts who suffer the brunt of STDs, early pregnancies, teasing, name calling from peers and community members, among others.

In an effort to strengthen the cohesiveness of the project, the participants were introduced to the Community Facilitators of ACFODE's Combating all forms of Defilement, Rape and Sexual Harassment (CODERASH) committees in the area. These committees comprised of community members that were trained by ACFODE on prevention and handling of SGBV cases have been critical in sustaining the project impact at local levels through awareness creation and the strengthening of referral pathways in the fight against SGBV. The committees' efforts were appreciated through the awarding of t-shirts and badges, and they were encouraged to mentor and support the training participants in the effective implementation of their school advocacy activities.

As a result of the training sessions, the participants were able to develop action plans, which included initiatives such as; establishing and/or strengthening the efficiency of school disciplinary committees, creating help desks to facilitate the reporting of violence cases, utilization of official occasions such as school assemblies and PTA meetings to sensitize teachers, students and parents about SGBV and introduction of peer to peer education programmes, among others.

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communication Officer

Action For Development

ACFODE Facilitates the Formation of Women Farmers Food Security Groups to Tackle Household Food Insecurity

Women and farming are two words that have over the years become synonymous because women have made significant contributions to the agricultural sector in Uganda. It is unfortunate that despite their considerable contributions, they still suffer the biggest impact and burden of household food insecurity. Mothers often watch helplessly as their children suffer or even die of preventable plagues such as malnutrition and starvation. Food insecurity has also contributed to high levels of domestic violence in homes as couples struggle to meet all household needs, including food, on meagre resources.

Participants discussing the obstacles to the full attainment
of food security in their communities
It was out of this pertinent concern that ACFODE under the project Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development undertook trainings on farmer group formation for women farmers from the districts of Dokolo, Pader and Namutumba from 17th to 21st June. The objective of the group formation is to accelerate the process of the women farmers accessing government programmes, since extension services such as NAADS are mostly made readily available to farmer groups. Similarly, the women farmers can benefit from other networks like District Farmers associations, Non- Governmental Organisations and development partners whose emphasis is agriculture and food security.

Through these avenues, advisory extension services or inputs may be availed to the farmers in order to add value to their produce, thus facilitating the creation of food secure households and reducing on the number of children and women who die from malnutrition and starvation.

The training created a platform for the women farmers to identify the obstacles to their attainment of adequate food all year round, such as; limited access to and ownership of land and other related factors of production, male domination of decision making and marketing processes, loss of soil fertility leading to low production, poor seeds, lack of storage facilities, crop pests and animal diseases, and change in weather, among others.

The women also learned the benefits of working in groups, including; better audibility due to a collective voice, cost efficiency in delivery of services, enhanced experiential learning and increased bargaining power. As a result, 18 women farmers food security groups were formed, with 6 for each district. ACFODE through the project will facilitate the groups to register with the relevant authorities within their districts.

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development

ACFODE Conducts a Regional Training Workshop for CSO Actors in Lira District

From the 4th to 6th of June, ACFODE with support from Diakonia conducted a training workshop on good governance and gender accountability for civil society actors in Lira district, with the aim of sharpening their skills in advocacy and engagement of communities in demanding for their rights. The training, which was a follow up of the Training of Trainers (ToTs) held in 2012 brought together members of the civil society from Apac, Kole and Oyam districts.

The workshop was opened by the Speaker of Oyam district, who emphasized the need for better collaboration between civil society actors and local leaders in the struggle for attainment of rights. He also urged the participants to include interventions with cultural leaders into their activities in order for them to be more effective in their communities.

In an effort to gauge the progress of the participants in their activities, they were given an opportunity to share the issues that emerged in the process of conducting the civic education training sessions in the communities. Several positive issues were highlighted including increased community awareness of their roles as the electorate and improved community ability to identify human rights and governance gaps in their midst. On the other hand, some negative issues  emerged such as, gender disparities in property ownership and poor health services, among others.

Participants from Apac outlining the emerging issues from
 their community civic education training sessions
The two day training therefore provided sessions on effective advocacy and resource mobilization, which enabled the participants to better identify the pertinent advocacy issues in their communities that require redress. Some of the issues that were highlighted included; GBV, high school drop-out rates and limited integration of good governance and gender accountability in local government planning processes.  The participants were also equipped with skills in both on and offline methods of effective resource mobilization. In addition, they benefitted from the experiences and best practices shared by Mr. Francis Ogema, a Community Monitor with 7 years experience of supporting communities in activism and monitoring government programs. He cautioned the participants on possible intimidation in their work, advising them to work with the local leaders to minimize misunderstandings.

As a result of the rich sessions, the participants were able to draw SMART action plans for their interventions, which outlined the outstanding advocacy issues in their communities, their resource mobilization plans as well as clear indicators of success. The renewed focus and direction of their action plans, equipped each participant with the necessary tools to carry out the tasks ahead of them with efficiency.  

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development

ACFODE Monitoring Activity Reveals Increased Citizen Ability to Hold Leaders Accountable in Lango Sub Region

In a bid to assess the impact realized by the activities of one of its projects titled “Promoting Good Governance and Gender Accountability at Local Government Level”, ACFODE conducted a monitoring visit in the Lango sub region between 20th-22nd may 2013.  The exercise covered the project districts of Apac, Oyam and Kole and engagements were held with district leaders, civil society actors and community members.

A community member from Oyam sharing the benefits of the
 civic education trainings in Ngai subcounty Kula Kula  Parish
The three year project that kicked off in June 2011 aims at contributing towards the realization of increased knowledge and awareness among elected leaders at local government level of their roles and responsibilities as well gender accountability issues; enhanced capacity of civil society actors to advocate for good governance and gender accountability at local government level and conduct grassroots civic education; and improved mechanisms of increasing national and local awareness and commitment to principles of good governance and gender accountability in society.

ACFODE has successfully conducted a number of activities under the project, including; Training of District Councilors on their roles and responsibilities in promoting good governance and gender accountability, Training of Trainers (TOTs) for civil society actors, review meetings with District Councilors and Technical Personnel as well as refresher trainings for CSO actors.
As a result of these interventions, a number of positive outcomes have been realized. These include;
  • Increased knowledge of roles and responsibilities among elected leaders and community members.
  • Increase in communities' demand for accountability from district leaders.
  • Increased female representation in District Council Committees.
  • Increased participation of female Councilors during council sessions.
  • Increased access to government development programs by community members.
According to Mr. Akwang Nicholas the Apac Community Development Officer (CDO), “As someone on the ground, when the project started the main issue was increased women representation and lack of awareness by local leaders of their roles and responsibilities to society. Women Councilors did not take up top places of leadership but after the training, they agreed to elect a new chair person who is a woman, and currently all the 4 chair persons of the council are female. One of them is also a youth. “It is now evident that leaders are aware of their roles since the meeting with ACFODE occurred.”

As a sign of approval of the ACFODE interventions, the stakeholders including civil society actors, community members and leaders in Apac district vowed to extend the work of promoting good governance and gender accountability to sub counties within the region that ACFODE is yet to reach.

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer

Action For Development

Friday, May 24, 2013

ACFODE Conducts Regional Training Workshops for District Women Councilors

With the existing need to progress away from increased numbers of women in political leadership to their enhanced participation, Action For Development (ACFODE) in partnership with the Women’s Democracy Group (WDG) conducted two regional trainings in Lira and Rukungiri districts for district women councilors from the 13th-15th of May 2013. WDG is a consortium of five women organizations which include Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), ACFODE, Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) - Uganda Chapter, Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), and Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO).

 An interactive session during the training workshop in Lira District

The trainings, which were conducted in Lira and Rukungiri districts brought together 74 district women councilors from Amolatar, Dokolo, Lira, Oyam, Rukungiri, Kisoro and Kanungu. The aim of the exercises were to increase the skill sets and knowledge base of the female leaders to effectively engage in council and influence decision making processes. They also sought to empower the officials to form caucuses for the advancement of women issues in local councils to enhance gender responsiveness.

Accordingly, during the trainings, participants were taken through topics on gender and gender responsive budgeting, lobbying, advocacy and networking, monitoring and evaluation of government programmes, e-communication with an emphasis on usage of bulk SMS to communicate with the electorate, Legal frameworks for affirmative action, caucusing and the rules of procedure in council.

The topics of engagements were based on a rapid assessment carried out by WDG in December 2012 which indicated that many local women leaders were challenged with inferiority complexes, which were rated at 100%; lack of advocacy and lobbying skills, which scored 94%; poor planning and budgeting skills and lack of knowledge on government policies, which claimed a score of 79% and ignorance of their roles and responsibilities which came in at 74%. Other skills gap established included: poor public speaking ability, limited skills in gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting, unawareness of the correct way of making ordinances, as well as inaccessibility of modern research and new tools of information to enhance their contribution to decision making.

A cross section of Women councilors during the workshop in Rukungiri district

The training resulted in the formation of seven district women caucuses, which were representative of the participating districts. The caucuses were formed uniquely on the basis of advocacy issues that affect majority of the communities they represent, rather than on the basis of political party affiliations. The groups were able to make immediate progress in their varied capacities by developing advocacy strategies on urgent issues that need redress, thus drawing closer to achieving remarkable milestones in their respective communities.

The women councilors appreciated the three-day engagement as a timely intervention which equipped them with tools for better leadership and replication of knowledge and skills gained. One of such councilors remarked “We cannot take this training for granted;  We appreciate the quality training and indeed it has helped a lot and we expect to perform better in undertaking our roles as women councillors.’’

Compiled by:

Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development

Friday, April 26, 2013

ACFODE Launches a New Project to Promote Positive Socio-Cultural Practices in Apac District

ACFODE, with support from the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) a non-profit organisation that offers support to self-help development initiatives, cooperatives, farmers' organisations and informal groups in developing countries, has rolled out a project titled “Strengthening Formal and Informal Institutions to Promote Gender Responsive Social Cultures in Uganda.”

The one-year pilot project, which will be conducted in Apac district in northern Uganda, will seek to engage leaders from both formal and informal institutions as well as communities in the promotion, establishment and application of gender responsive social cultural practices which facilitate gender equality.

Despite the fact that Uganda has made significant progress in eliminating discrimination against women and girls through the enactment of gender sensitive laws such as; the constitution, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Protection Act, as well as the ratification of international protocols like the Maputo Protocol, CEDAW and ICGLR, the vice largely continues to persist. Coupled with a general lack of awareness among duty bearers about the related laws as well as the absence of effective mechanisms for the enforcement of such laws, their effective enforcement within communities remains a challenge. 

The new project will therefore employ a fresh perspective on the intervention, which will focus on highlighting the importance of boys and men as champions in the elimination of negative socio-cultural practices which promote violence against women. The premise of the project's focus is the fact that a balanced society is one in which both male and female actors are aware of each other's worth and equally respect each other.

Working alongside partners in the east African community, that is, GROOTS and Men for Gender Equality Now (MENGEN) in Kenya and Tanzania women lawyers association (TAWLA) in Tanzania, the project will utilize innovative methods of intervention with the different stakeholders in the communities in Apac district.  

ACFODE therefore calls upon all citizens of Uganda to work together in order to achieve a society where male champions for gender equality can successfully lead the way in the development of a national movement that appreciates the capacities, potential and rights of women and girls.

Compiled by:

Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development (ACFODE)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

ACFODE Intra University Debates Move to South Western Uganda

In its campaign to empower young people with skills in discussing topical issues on good governance and democracy, ACFODE in partnership with Konrad Adaneur Stiftung (KAS) conducted intra university debate competitions in Kabale University. The two-day activities that aimed to select a representative for the western region at the national inter university debate championships in Kampala kicked off with a debate training workshop for the students on April 6th 2013.

Under the theme, "Youth Spearheading gender equality and good governance in Uganda," the training workshop targeted students from various faculties, including; Arts, Social Sciences and Education with lessons in gender and gender roles, emphasizing the need for promotion of equity for the sake of sustainable gender equality. Professor Aggrey Yesigomwe from the department of Development Studies at Kabale University, who led the participatory session, remarked on the ideal type of gender equality that women strive for, in an effort to differentiate between gender equality and equity. 

The training session on good governance and democracy, which preceded an introduction to the British Parliamentary debate format, focused on developing the students' awareness of the concepts of human rights, privileges and obligations of stakeholders in the practice of democracy and the consequential achievement of good methods of governance.

Some of the contentious questions raised during these highly participatory sessions included matters of discriminative gender roles, the misuse of affirmative action for women as well as the rising marginalization of men in gender discussions.

The workshop was crowned with a trial debate in which the students utilized their newly learned skills in the British Parliamentary format of debate to argue the motion, "This house would abolish the women's seat in parliament." The mock debates were held in preparation for debate competitions, to be held on 7th April.

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development

Friday, March 22, 2013

Acfode Strengthens The Capacity Of Kisoro District Stakeholders In The Fight Against Sexualized Violence

ACFODE with support from EIRENE carried out an annual self assessment workshop and process monitoring session in Kisoro district from March 18th to 21st 2013 with the aim of strengthening its project on the prevention of sexualized violence against women and girls in Kisoro district. The project is being implemented in Nyarusiza, Nyakabande, Busanza and Kirundo subcounties of Kisoro district.

The one day workshop, which was part of the monitoring framework to ensure sustainability and build strong networks in the district saw 60 stakeholders in the district come together and deliberate on sexual violence issues and how the project procedure can be improved in the district.

The proceedings generated feedback from stakeholders in the community project. For instance, the Asst. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ms Rita Byirinbiro expressed gratitude for ACFODE's project interventions, stressing the need for other actors to unite and play their roles so as to ensure the project is a success. It was also noted that ACFODE is one of the longest serving partners in the district and has therefore been responsible for a large percentage of the current political, social and economic change in the area.

The District Community Liason Officer Mr. Ben Wenamanya highlighted the availability of free counseling services for victims of sexual violence available through the ACFODE offices, as well as easily accessible referral system for reporting sexual violence cases via the ACFODE Community Facilitators (CFs).

In addition, the Sub County Chief of Nyakabande emphasized the support of several re;event Community Based Organizations through ACFODE's work. For instance, Kichwumbi Community Development Association, which supports young girls to become economically independent.

The positive impact of the Combating Defilement, Rape and Sexual Harassment (CODERASH) committees was also affirmed through visits to the local communities, which were more aware of sexual violence through their regular dialogues and interaction with the ACFODE CFs, who are also part of the local communities.

A total number of 120 CFs have been trained in the four sub counties and, with support from the ACFODE field office, they are able to sensitize communities on sexual violence, reproductive health and economic empowerment and also refer Gender Based Violence cases to relevant authorities.

The communication channels used in dissemination of ACFODE information were also monitored in order to determine their impact and relevance in the project implementation. With only two local radio stations; Kisoro FM and Voice of Muhabura FM, ACFODE's sensitization messages on sexual violence in communities have been largely welcomed, which was evidenced by the fact that 4 people out of 10 in any given community have listened to these talk shows.

Overall, local authorities, including the district LCV Chair Person pledged to offer more support to ACFODE to ensure that the marked reduction in sexual violence in the district since the beginning of the project continues. This has been a big milestone for ACFODE as an organization in the district, in regard to the fight against sexual violence.

Compiled by:

Andrew Ssekirevu
Programme Assistant
Gender and Economic Policy Department
Action For Development

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mock Debate Session Starts off Gulu Intra-University Debate Competitions

The Gulu university intra-university debate competitions kicked off in high gear on 23rd February with a mock debate between the different faculties. The mock debate was preceded by a debate training session in which students were introduced to concepts of gender, good governance and the British parliamentary debate system. The four sessions aimed to equip the young men and women with deeper understanding of gender equality and good governance, while providing them with a forum in which to discuss their understanding of the concepts amongst their peers with eloquent, cohesive arguments.

Students exchanging views during the mock debate
As a result of the sessions, the students were inspired to think outside the box concerning gender, with a number of critical questions being raised in that regard.  Interest was particularly piqued in regard to the extent of the effects of a patriarchal society on gender equality, with some questioning the agenda of the women's movement in eroding some protective mechanisms that are enshrined in a patriarchal system allegedly to protect women. For instance, exclusion from direct armed combat.

According to one student, the discussion was an eye opener for her. She sad, "It's up to us to take the responsibility to recognize that because society has been conducting things one way, it doesn't have to be the same forever, it is up to us to accept it and change ourselves before we can be able to inspire other people in the communities to change."

Challenged to go head-to-head in a mock debate, students from eight departments formed four opposing teams to argue the motion: "This house would abolish the woman seat in parliament." The rich debate widened the students' scope of understanding in regard to gender, and boosted their confidence for the final qualifier competitions to be held on 24th February. The four winning teams will represent Gulu University at the 2013 ACFODE Inter University Debates.

For more updates on the Gulu intra university debates, as well as a pictorial of the on-going events, click here.

You can also follow the debate proceedings on our website at: 

Compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Action For Development (ACFODE)