Guest Post by Annette Munabi, Policy Analyst at DI’s partner Development Research and Training (Uganda)
Five communities in northern Uganda are seeing how citizen feedback on humanitarian and development assistance can bring about positive change in their communities. This is the result of an effort – spearheaded by volunteers – to share information on resource flows within the community, and solicit feedback on the responsiveness of resources to their emergency and development needs.
Training for community trackers
For the first time, a community in Yepa central in Mucwini sub-county, Kitgum district looks forward to benefiting from the National Agriculture and Advisory Services (NAADS) programme, a government intervention aimed at food security and transformation of subsistence agriculture to make it more market oriented for commercial production. This was the result of training for ‘community trackers’ on resource flow processes, conducted by our partner in Uganda, Development Research and Training (DRT).
In Northern Uganda, in addition to resources for routine operation and service delivery functions of government, there are a number of development programmes funded by both government and development partners, of which NAADS is one example. The purpose of these programmes is to maintain peace building, recovery, and economic growth and development in the region.
Appointing resource trackers
In March 2012, the ‘Better aid delivered through better information’ project was introduced to five communities: the villages of Morunyang, Napumpum, Lageng Central, Yepa Central and Lakwela. We identified selected members of the communities and appointed them ‘resource trackers’. Efforts were made through training to improve the trackers’ capacity to understand information on financial flows and related development processes.
The trackers were sceptical that ‘mere’ information could help address poverty issues in their communities. However, after they were trained by DRT, they went back to their homes committed to championing the cause for increased access to resource information from development actors. In turn, they would give feedback on the ability of these resources to meet their needs as well as the quality and relevance of programme/project funds.
“When we returned from the training by DRT in August, we were aware of our rights to access information and we were fully skilled and equipped to play our role in the entire complex development process. In collaboration with the local councillor, we called a village meeting and invited senior councillors. In the meeting we expressed our desire to know why we weren’t benefitting from the on-going government programmes of income support and food security” – Toobalo Churchill Otim
In response to the community’s demand, the L.C. III (senior councillor) invited the NAADS coordinator to a follow-up meeting. He then provided them with the list of enterprises that had been funded in the their sub-county and including cattle rearing, legumes and cereal seeds and provision of other farming materials like hoes.
The coordinator supported the community to understand their entitlements and communicated the NAADS guidelines, which provide advisory services in this area. As a result, 42 food security beneficiaries and six market-oriented farmers found that they qualified to receive goats, hoes and heifers that they were previously unaware of. The farmers are also hopeful of receiving larger quantities of seed to plant arising from a surplus of UGX 150,000 as a result of a change in market prices that they were unaware of. The excited citizens now await the identification of contractors to supply the items. Without the community trackers’ intervention, this simply wouldn’t have happened.
Reaching out to excluded groups in society
Economic growth that is sustainable should not only focus on establishing a sound macro- and sectoral economic framework, but ensure that information-sharing systems that reach out to the excluded groups of society and incorporate their voices in development processes are in place. The post-MDG process that is currently taking place provides a unique opportunity to ensure that this happens and that people like those in Uganda continue to benefit.
A short film of the initiative can be seen here
Development Research and Training (DRT) and Development Initiatives are partnering on a three-year project tracking resources for poverty eradication funded by DFID’s Partnership Programmme Arrangement (PPA). For further information please contact the author of this article, Annette Were Munabi, Policy Analyst at DRT firstname.lastname@example.org.