KAMPALA, UGANDA: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and cooperatives have been urged to be accountable to the people they serve, if they’re to have a harmonious working relationship with government. The call was made by the State Minister for Planning, Hon. David Bahati, while opening the World Bank and Africa Freedom for Information Center (AFIC) Social Accountability Learning Symposium.
Officiating at the symposium held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday, Bahati said government is interested in working and collaborating with CSOs that are accountable, and complement government’s efforts towards achieving its development goals.
“We (government) appreciate the work of NGOs and CSOs that contribute to government’s development agenda, but more importantly those that are accountable to both government and the masses, they serve,” said Bahati
The symposium organized by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) with support from the World Bank was aimed at sharing experiences and offering a platform for interactive learning to all its partners and stakeholders.
Participants included donor agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Central and Local Government officials, the media, and representatives from the academia. Others included community beneficiaries of NGO works, and representatives of accountability committees.
Speaking at the event, the World Bank Uganda Country Manager Mr. Antony Thomson argued that citizen feedback is essential in helping governments address challenges affecting service delivery: “Even at the World Bank, we believe in feedback as a key response in achieving our development goals. We get compliments and complaints and take them seriously. We read the letters from the communities and respond adequately to them,” he said.
In 2014 then World Bank President Mr. Jim Yong Kim announced that by 2018 citizens’ engagement would be at the center of all World Bank supported projects, after the bank in 2010 adopted an Access to Information Policy.
Mr. Jeff Thindwa, the Program Manager –Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) noted that collaborative social accountability amongst public service actors had led to improvements in service delivery, especially in areas of education, health and Agriculture as citizens got engaged in performance monitoring.
Senior Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank M/s Barbara Magezi Ndamira on her part hailed the AFIC for effectively implementing GPSA projects across the country, noting that the program had shown how involving citizens in public monitoring works helps address inefficiencies.
Speaking to theCooperator, AFIC’s Executive Director Mr. Gilbert Senduguwa argued that the Center
remains committed to empowering local communities to demand for accountability and access to Information, and that it has established projects even in predominantly rural areas like Nebbi, Mubende, Nakaseke, among others.