1. Converging ICT tools to Promote Public Accountability for Improved Service Delivery & Democratic Engagement in the Rwenzori region, Western Uganda (2012 – 2019)
Both Modern/online and traditional ICT tools have great potential to provide development opportunities for the marginalized citizen groups 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 and set up advocacy initiatives, to participate in good governance and democratic engagement processes. As ToroDev and partners implement this project, the above empowerment will be evidenced through their increased participation to express freely their development priorities during local/district and central government budgeting processes, engage their leaders and actively monitor government service delivery, at the same levels, without intimidation and fear. This, in the end will promote value for resources and reduce misappropriation/corruption that is rampant in Uganda. If local citizens like youth and rural women – who comprise the majority of the population in Uganda – closely advocate and monitor how, for example, the road/transport infrastructure, health, education and marketing facilities and services are being delivered to their communities by the government, definitely their social and economic development needs like improved maternal healthcare, education/training that focuses on imparting skills for Entrepreneurship/self employment will be appropriately addressed.
Through this project, ToroDev with financial support from the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER/Stockholm University), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), ICT4Democracy Network for East Africa (ICT4DEM) and other partners, desire to converge the power of ICT for development tools, both modern/online and traditional ones. Particularly, due to high levels of both basic and ICT skills illiteracy, a local FM radio broadcasting medium will be used as a “hub” for the convergence of information and knowledge provided by online/internet and mobile telephony/technology tools. Broadcast media practioners/staff from 10 FM radio stations in the Rwenzori region, western Uganda, will be trained how to design programs and broadcast relevant content/information that empowers local citizens to advocate and monitor the quality of services and democratically engage their leaders for development planning and budgeting. Both 80 radio staff and 210 rural monitors will also be trained how to use online social media (FOSS) tools to do research, document, disseminate on FM radios information on how to demand accountability and network beyond their communities for support using internet/web tools like blogs, twitter, etc. In partnership with FrontLineSMS-U, and Tracfm, ToroDev will also optimise the use of Mobile telephony to collect, analyze and disseminate datasets/information on annual status of service delivery in the Rwenzori region and other parts of Uganda. It will also act as virtual platform where the local citizens directly interact with FM radio stations to air out their views regarding the status of service delivery in their communities through the messaging (SMS) service.
2. ICT-Enabled Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development (Business Incubation Initiative) 2010 – 2019
The Business Incubation Initiative project was birthed from the ICT4D Research & Resource Centre project which was established in 2006. The centre was a mere information public access point and offering basic ICT training to local youth, who needed such skills to advance their careers. Later on, ToroDev acknowledged that the rate of youth unemployment was soaring without a deliberate government policy to curb down the phenomenon. In view of this shock, the need for practical conceptualization of small business ideas and outreach/on-site support to the potential youth entrepreneurs at “ground-breaking” and throughout the “break-even” levels became real and inevitable. ToroDev realized that these were key issues for initiation and sustainability of self-help income generating projects for young people. The other compelling factor for developing this Initiative was the fact that, the above training support, with such key components, was very rare in the mainstream education curriculum in Uganda, even at university level. The launching of the five-year National Development plan for Uganda in April 2010 that emphasizes a Public-Private Partnership or a Multi-Stakeholders’ approach to tackle complex national problems like the youth unemployment also fueled ToroDev’s desire to develop a Business Incubation Initiative, with a hope of attracting both government and donor support in the future to expand the project. So far, Stem van Afrika, a Dutch international development institution has come up to partner with ToroDev to expand our ICT-Enabled Innovation & Entrepreneurship program under which, this project is developed. ToroDev is also targeting institutions such as Enterprise Uganda and Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) that are directly supporting youth entrepreneurship programs to work together.
Some of the successes under this project include the organization of the 2012 Annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference in the Rwenzori region, held on August 24th, at SDA Hall, Fort Portal town. ToroDev closely partnered with the Institutional Development Associates (IDA)- a Fort Portal based consultancy institution involved in SME/business development. Over 200 young people/entrepreneurs attended the conference and other successful entrepreneurs, both in the region and beyond shared their practical experiences about being innovative and how to translate the individual innovations into economic goods for self employment that can be sustained over a lifetime. The Business Incubation Initiative project has also been named finalist in the Global Junior Challenge 2012 Competetions organized by the Digital World Foundation/Fondazione Mondo Digitale, one of ToroDev’s partners in Rome, Italy. The Young Entrepreneurship Conference in the Rwenzori region, Western Uganda is an annual event that ToroDev and partners will be organizing/sponsoring every year. The next conference is schedule for July 2013. Among other activities during the event will be an annual award, recognizing the successful and promising young entrepreneurs in the region and also recognizing the best and promising ICT personalities, including broadcast media practitioners who support marketing and providing information/knowledge to youth entrepreneurs in the region and Uganda in general. Another close partner that ToroDev hopes to work with in 2013 to organize the above events is Stem Van Afrika (SvA), a Dutch Media Support organization, who has worked with ToroDev for the previous 2 years.
3. Radio as a Hub for Improving Service Delivery in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda (2012 – 2015)
Toro Development Network (ToroDev) partners with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USA to support to improve accountability through radio in the Rwenzori Region of Western Uganda by training rural women and youth and building radio stations’ capacity to report on governance issues. Since more than 90% of the Ugandan population relies on radio as its main source of news and information, radio remains one of the most powerful conduits of information on politics and governance.
ToroDev will conduct a three day workshop to train 40 leaders from eight local ‘listener clubs’ on techniques to monitor public service delivery, demand accountability from local, district and national leaders, conduct advocacy and access important information related to budget processes and resource allocation. Club leaders will learn how to conduct focus groups, identify key priorities in service delivery and make use of key elements of the Ugandan constitution (1995), Local Government Act (1997) and the Information Access Act (2005). Participants will be oriented on the new Frontline SMS service which ToroDev is currently piloting for the “Listeners Forum” radio program. ToroDev believes that Frontline SMS will improve listener awareness of issues related to accountability and mobilize them for effective community action.
Successes in the previous year of Endowments support have been registered. Over 7 community owned Advocacy Forums targeting close monitoring and advocacy for improved service delivery have already been established in the districts of Kabarole and Ntoroko districts. A regional Rwenzori Journalists Forum was also established with support from ToroDev.
4. Research Project: Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development among Youth in Uganda: What are Opportunities & Challenges? (2013 – 2015)
This study will be conducted by both ToroDev research team and interns from Makerere University, College of Business & Management Sciences – Kampala, Uganda. The Study/survey will focus on the seven districts of the Rwenzori sub-region (Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko) as a case study. A total of 384 respondents will be randomly sampled out of 507,920 youth (age of 18-30) in the region to inform the study, representing 95% confidence level of findings.
More details of the study to follow later.
5. Towards A financially Literate Community (2013 – 2016)
This project will conduct a baseline survey and produce an analysis report on the status of Financial Literacy in 6 sampled districts of the Rwenzori Region as a means of assessing and advocating for improvement in the FL levels in western Uganda. The financial literacy subjects will include Savings, Insurance, Budgeting and Borrowing.
The Survey Report;
The output from the Baseline survey clearly correlates with the four stated objectives of the program and provides valid insights to the current opinions, behaviours and attitudes of the clients in the sample population. The strength of this survey design lies in the breadth of the topics it contains as well as in the inclusion of ‘test’ questions designed to examine the clients’ current level of ability or awareness in several dimensions of financial literacy. This report has been written from the perspective of taking the survey responses at face value with one or two caveats which have been clearly noted.
Upload of the final report coming soon here…
6. Advancing the Role of Quality Data for Good Governance Processes in Uganda (Data4GOV project) 2014 – 2016
ToroDev is in advanced stages of developing partnership with Development Initiatives, Africa Hub (DI), Development Research & Training (DRT) and Indigo Trust – UK to implement and advance the role of quality data/information in decision making processes in Uganda. Availability of relevant data, with a harmonized and recognized regulatory agency charged with national data/information management function, will contribute greatly to realizing well thought-out, citizen-focused public policy formulation, implementation, analysis/review and advocacy in Uganda. In the end, essential, prioritized and citizen-centered service delivery will be realized, contribution to a higher level of chronic poverty reduction in Uganda.
Details of project updates coming soon here…