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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