Joyce Yopa; the new Headmistress to Muni Primary School, Arua district has to keep her work clean. Only a month ago she was posted here and Lillian Mundwa has already started to frequent her office.
“We must be available such that things do not go out of hand,” Lillian states.
For over ten years, Lillian has been monitoring service delivery in Muni sub-county where she lives. In this sub-county, she has been able to see services improve at a school where all her children go for education and the Riki Health Centre III which serves the community.
“We monitor pupil absenteeism, teachers’ performance and the number of times they report to teach and other school facilities.”
Global Integrity’s 2006 Report on Uganda estimates that more than a half of the government’s annual budget is lost to corruption amounting to $950 Million. (www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/uganda/index.cfm)
This indicates that most of the service delivery in Uganda is affected by corruption which has rendered the public to lose confidence in the government officials. A 2005 AfroBarometer Survey indicated that majority of the citizens believed that most of the government officials whether at central or local level were corrupt.
Therefore, mechanisms of monitoring service delivery have to be engaged to curb down this evil. The communities must participate in monitoring service delivery to make sure services reach those they are meant for.
Lillian does not work alone. She works with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to access information about available services from government and tracing whether they have reached their local primary school. Their recent success was the recovery of 203 iron sheets from a member of the school management committee which have completed a once stalled building process.
They also train pupils in monitoring their teachers’ attendance and fellow pupils’ attendance. Through this, pupils who had dropped out of school have managed to return to school and the teacher attendance has improved. The school which has 1,353 pupils with 771 girls and 682 boys now provides all the enrolment lists and teacher performance statistics and the received funds from government since the monitoring process began.
“We are always called upon when the drugs arrive at the Health Centre,” says Richard Butele the Chairman of the Health Management Committee for the Riki Health Centre.
This is the only health centre in the whole sub-county where Lillian also does monitoring. Unlike Lillian who is a retired nurse and has received extra training from bigger Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) like CARE International and MAYANK Anti-Corruption Coalition (MACCO), Richard was just selected by the government officials to monitor services at the health centre.
Civil societies have embarked on training community monitors who monitor service delivery in areas where the monitors also benefit.
“When CARE phased out their project, we were handed over to MACCO to continue supporting us in this process,” says Lillian. The training and support is given by several CSOs who may need to monitor particular service delivery in the communities.
“We provide training to all the key influential people in the community. These may not be for MACCO or CARE but will support community service delivery in the end,” commented David Onen; Executive Director MACCO.
The training normally helps the participants acquire information on available services and how to work with fellow community members on how to track service delivery by government and thus curb corruption.
One of the challenges Lillian faces is that the civil societies who trained her have not provided her with transport facilitation to monitor services in some of the areas which are far from her home.
David Onen challenges this and encourages the monitors to work in areas where they benefit.
“Do you need transport to monitor services in a school where your children go for studies or a health centre where you go for treatment?” he rhetorically asks. This means that the community members are being empowered to monitor their services.
“They need to see the value of their work by initiating changes in service delivery within their communities,” he goes on to say.
Therefore with the effort civil societies have put in empowering the community members, it is important that issues raised are followed up to cause real impact in the community.
Government and Civil Society in working with monitors
Lillian’s recent allegation is the embezzlement of funds by the former Headmaster who has been posted to another school. She claims she has evidence to pin him down. with such an allegation and the claimed evidence in her hands to prove her case, one wonders her next step.
“Sometimes they think they can manage on their own and after no solution is offered they come back to us” says Onen. “We give them chance to devise solutions as a community and bring up the unresolved issues through our structures until we push them to the policy makers who intervene to bring lasting solutions. This normally takes less than a month.”
Richard, the government selected monitor agrees there are many loopholes they have found out from the health centre but a few solutions have been provided.
“The drugs packed do not much the number of drugs listed on the delivery note and most of the medicine does not much the diseases the community suffers from,” he laments. “During the inspection, we have the DISO and Police officers who witness these complaints but nothing much has resulted.”
His position is not any different from Dennis Obinega’s who is the Senior Nurse that manages the health centre.
“We wish we could be able to request our own medicines according to the number of people and the ailments they suffer from,” he goes on to say.“The medicine runs out nearly after two weeks because most people come to take medication even when they are not sick since they are not sure when the medicine will run out.”
Richard also agrees that as a committee they have managed to solve small issues like causing the drunkard gateman to be fired since he was not performing. Surprisingly, the issues discussed by the Team he heads are not discussed with Lillian yet both groups work to improve the same community’s service delivery. This could mean that civil society monitors may miss out on issues realised by the government monitors.
The government recently commissioned Barazas through the Office of the Prime Minister where community members can track service delivery by the government officials. Barazas are open meetings between communities and their leaders to provide feedback about service delivery and tracking implementation of programmes. Civil societies have also implemented the Citizens Manifesto which will help empower citizen voices to interact with their leaders irrespective of their political or cultural background. These are useful in citizens monitoring service delivery and following up on political leaders’ delivery on their promises and responsibilities.
Such initiatives if well implemented could bring together community members in tracking service delivery hence combating corruption in their communities.
For corruption to be fully kicked out of communities there is need for a unified monitoring by all the community members as the end result will benefit each and everyone.