Trained Community Monitors Contribute to Improved Local Service Delivery in Arua District
The delegation of roles and responsibilities for service delivery to lower levels of government is intended to improve local service delivery. However, in places like Ajia Sub-County in Arua District, Uganda, citizens have traditionally not been informed of their roles and responsibilities in local government planning and monitoring and have not actively participated in these processes. Consequently, the quality of service delivery continued to be poor.
The West Nile Rural Development Agency (WENIRUDA), with support from the USAID/Strengthening Democratic Linkages in Uganda (LINKAGES) activity, identified several interventions to improve the situation. WENIRUDA conducted a baseline survey to ascertain the level of civic participation. The survey revealed that communities were unaware of their role in the planning process and particularly in monitoring service delivery. WENIRUDA organized community meetings in each of the sub-county's nine parishes. Fifty proactive community volunteers, including civil society and local council representatives, were trained on how to participate in local government monitoring.
Increased citizen oversight and monitoring has brought several instances of improper spending to light and led to their correction. Farmer selection for participation in the National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) is now being monitored by trained community monitors, assuring communities that ordinary farmers benefit from its programs.
In another instance, citizens discovered they were being asked to pay for the use of government ambulances, although funds were already provided by the Government for this purpose. Citizens now feel empowered to question the responsible authorities on funds budgeted for services like this. They can now use the ambulances as they are entitled to, without charge.
Citizens now recognize that their participation and oversight improves services. A resident of Ayayia Parish remarked that he had never participated in his village meetings before, though he used to see Local Councilors sitting down to plan. He said, "we shall make it a must to attend because we used to think that it's only LCs to plan for us" ... .and now they know differently.