Under ToroDev’s new Strategic Planning (2016 – 2020), the institutional programming is premised on improving service delivery in three major development sectors of Health & Sanitation, Education and Economic Sustainability in Uganda. Our focus on the above sectors, programs, projects and activities are directly informed by global targets set within the SDGs framework – Sustainable Development Goals # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16. There also informed by Uganda’s Vision 2040 and National Development Plan II. Note should be taken that in order to realize improved service delivery in the above sectors, other cross-cutting, but key development accelerators have to function well. Among many others, ToroDev has identified good governance principles like democratic engagement between citizens and duty-bearers, public accountability, transparent and frequently reviewed electoral processes, free access to reliable data and/information, inclusive planning and budgeting processes to ensure priority resources allocation.
These will be achieved through the following strategies/approaches;
A. Research & Advocacy;
B. Capacity Building and/or Skills Development;
C. Innovative Solutions Design & Development
D. Basic Infrustructure Development;
ToroDev further commits to deliver project interventions under three main programming themes elaborated below;
1. ICT – Enabled Public Accountability & Democratic Engagement for Improved Service Delivery in Uganda
Background, Rationale & Relevance of program
The qualify of living, right from household level in the world, Uganda and the local Rwenzori region, in particular, is directly related to the quality and quantity of development services delivered to the local citizens by their governments. Both local and central government are mandated by law (constitution) to appropriate resources available in the community for improving sustainable livelihoods of their own people. These services range from education, health and sanitation, transportation facilities, energy for product processing, marketing centres, access to information and knowledge facilities, to mention but a few. Local citizens exercise one of their major duties given to them by the same law(s) through electing leaders to different responsibility offices to champion the planning, budgeting, delivery and monitoring of services that they need most to develop socially, economically and politically.
Whereas there are many other needs and/or challenges to sustainable development in the country and region, ToroDev as a pro-people institution, realized a priority that calls for deliberate and urgent addressing. This need is “engagement of local and central government office bearers (Leaders) to refocus on pro–citizen development leadership and representation.” Unethical practices like corruption and all other forms of misappropriation of public development resources caused by conservative politics leading to serious compromise of the principles of institutionalism in Uganda have rendered leadership quite desirable, in order to realize improved service delivery in almost all sectors highlighted above.
ToroDev supports this engagement by mainstreaming the power of both traditional and modern ICT tools – connecting local citizens to their leaders through both physical and virtual forums. In the end, this enhances exchange of ideas between leaders and the local citizens leading to better development resources appropriation and prioritization. Citizens invite leaders for meetings and gatherings to give accountability of what has been done and what has not been done in their communities. Leader also can respond to citizens queries and concerns – say, on an FM radio station, as an affordable mass media broadcast/ICT tool. Local citizens can use their mobile phone to call-in and ask questions or send SMSs directly to their leaders for prompt responses during FM radio discussions, etc.
2. ICT – Enabled Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development (Business Incubation Initiative).
Background, Rationale & Relevance of program
Both Modern/online and traditional ICT tools have great potential to provide economic development opportunities by activating the innovativeness of individuals and also translating those innovations into economic goods for sustainability (entrepreneurship development) in the developing world. Particularly in Uganda, the convergence of the ICT tools can empower the youth and rural women through accessing relevant information, share knowledge by networking with the rest of the world to improve production of both goods and services and market them competitively, resulting in higher revenues and profitability.
However, the issue of unemployment of the youth (18-35 years) has become the talk of the day in Uganda. It’s a challenge that is often singled out by every leader everywhere. Most low income parents question the relevance of spending their limited resources on educating their children, who will then spend over 3 years without getting a job placement. At least 40,000 new graduates enter the job market in Uganda to compete for not more than 8,000 job placements available every year. When you go to more than 20 universities in Uganda and talk to students about their future plans after graduation, 89% of them speak of graduating from university, “getting good jobs”. The question is how do they get the jobs they anticipate while both the public and private sector institutions can gainfully employ only 8,000 graduates annually?
To address the above challenge, ToroDev with partners initiated the Business Incubation Initiative as a “social business” enterprise. It is driven by a socio-economic objective of improving the livelihoods of the jobless young people and those of their households in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda. The initiative model is to generate revenue from small business projects directly run by youth, without necessarily sharing dividends like other profit-making companies, but rather any surplus revenue will be ploughed back on the initiative account as a “fund” to establish more small businesses to employ more jobless youth annually. ToroDev is in the process of contacting all interested partners, both local and international, to support this program.
Youth attending one of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship workshops for knowledge sharing organized by ToroDev & IDA in Fort Portal town in August 2012
This program has special interest to study and understand the potential of the agricultural sector. Indeed Uganda – specifically the western parts, make up a favourable agricultural region with potential to offer employment opportunities, improve household incomes of Ugandans, provide food security – not only to Ugandans, but also the rest of East Africans and the great lakes region. ToroDev will focus on promoting small and medium sized Agribusiness Enterprises Development. This will transform the agricultural sector, not only to be seen as an industry and an occupation of the unskilled, but also for skilled as a viable business, especially the youth. Particularly, ToroDev will support activities that pay close attention to practical demonstration, information access, communication and knowledge sharing that in the end will enhance quality of production, value addition through aggro-processing, market research, etc.
3. Public Policy Analysis/ Research & Advocacy
Background, Rationale & Relevance of Program
Development Policy Research & Advocacy is envisaged on the need to conduct necessary studies – on a frequent basis – to understand public policy formulation and implementation, and later inform ToroDev’s project interventions that target to address the above two major program themes. Other research /survey studies on particular development issues are conducted by ToroDev on request by both local and international partners and/or private and public clients.
Uganda’s Vision 2040 aspires to lead the economy into a “high income” one, where an average Ugandan earns over $9,600 from the current $510 GNI per capita (World Bank, 2011). The short/medium-term, 5-year National Development Plan (launched in April 2010), aims at transforming the Ugandan economy from peasantry into a modern, industrious and prosperous economy by 2017!. However, the same plan acknowledges that there was inadequate information, knowledge sharing and/or democratic engagement between local citizens and their leaders to identify key priority service delivery needs that propel economy transformation. This disparity has endangered collective planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring of service delivery. Both leaders at all levels and local citizens have specific roles to play to improve service delivery. They are interdependent for real service delivery sustainability.
The Uganda National ICT Policy (2003) clearly explains the importance of access and use of ICT to mobilize the local citizens for development and easy access to service delivery information. It emphasizes the potential of these technologies, both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ to improve service delivery, transparency and governance through the availability of public domain, particularly local citizens [pg. 9]. The recent African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Uganda Chapter, recommends integration of both top-bottom and bottom-up accountability initiatives to improve service delivery, especially in the rural community. The National Development Plan (NDP, 2010) also recognizes the limitations of government resources and heavily appeals for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approach to empower the citizenry socially, economically and politically. The Right to Access to Information Act (2005) re-affirms local citizens’ rights to access information on service delivery in their communities.
Also to note, are raising youth unemployment rates in Uganda, estimated at 83% for skilled youth and 62% for semi-skilled or un-skilled youth. With all these, the desire to find out – through frequent research/survey activities – what causes these phenomena becomes inevitable for ToroDev. Whereas a series of national studies have been conducted previously by institutions like World Bank/African Development Indicators report (2008/2009), Action Aid International (2012) and others, ToroDev is motivated to study the magnitude of this problem in the Rwenzori sub-region and Uganda at large.