Strengthening Participatory Local Governance
Government of Uganda adopted decentralized governance policy in 1993. The primary aims were bringing services closer to the people and ensuring a responsive and accountable government. However, this policy assumed that citizens are able to participate in their governance to demand for services and accountability from their elected leaders. To the contrary grassroots population (especially women, youth, the elderly, children, persons with disabilities, and persons living with HIV/AIDS) have limited political capabilities to engage in local government planning, budgeting, and monitoring processes. This limited people’s participation in local governance is also compounded by the limited knowledge among elected leaders’ (particularly representatives of the most vulnerable social groups) of their roles and responsibilities in local governance. Neither do they have civic engagement skills.
In return: (i) Local government plans and budgets are not known to the people they must serve; (ii) Local government plans and budgets are not pro-poor as much of decentralized funds pay administrative costs; (iii) Government institutions are not accountable to the public; and of particular concern; and (iv) Grassroots people have lost trust in their local governments as many think “government is for government servants”: a complacency that breeds impunity and abuse of public resources.
To ensure effective citizens-government engagement and equitable access to quality public services, AFARD promotes Community-led Advocacy mainly by:
- Citizenship building through political rights awareness creation and political capabilities strengthening. People need to know their right and have the right skills with which to claim them;
- Political leadership development for government officials to comprehend with their roles and responsibilities in participatory governance;
- Nurturing Public Dialogue Space where leaders are lobbied by their electorates on issues that concern their well-being and are tasked to account for their (in)actions;
- Strengthening community institutions to monitor government policies and programmes to ensure that they benefit poor people.