Updates from CIPESA

Last year, we announced that we had funded a project to monitor service delivery in northern Uganda to be carried out by CIPESA in collaboration with the local journalism organisation, NUMEC. Since then, they have been busy collecting data on government commitments in northern Uganda as laid down in the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (the Government framework for the post-conflict reconstruction of Northern Uganda). The plan was to map government commitments against crowdsourced data collected by professional and citizen journalists. It’s not all been plain sailing since then, as CIPESA recently told me:

We have completed the collection of the initial information on health interventions under the Peace, Recovery and Development Programme (PRDP) in northern Uganda to feed into our crowd‐sourced platform and engagement with media and citizen journalists in northern Uganda. However, the data mainly has consolidated figures. Efforts to obtain data specific to the three districts in focus have not been very successful, as government stats are not always broken down by districts.

We are in the final stages of the re-design of our website and integrating the Ushahidi PRDP reporting portal into our website. We have selected 5 categories i.e. Health Service Delivery, Water and Sanitation, Community Action, Health Center Governance, Health infrastructure in order to making reporting and follow ups easy

To commemorate the International Right to Know day on September 28, 2012, CIPESA along with partners issued a statement urging different stakeholders to open up their data silos and also join the Open Development Initiative in making government data accessible and reusable in Uganda.[1] This is one of the strategies of encouraging public bodies to be more open with their information, which ultimately would benefit our project.

In order to further inform our wider iParticipate work, we finalised a KAPs assessment survey in Central Uganda and additional questionnaires were distributed in Gulu. Data analysis is being done to feed into the initial analysis carried out in Kasese and Gulu (end 2011). We have also asked, in the latest round of data collection, about some new issues of interest to our project, such as participation practices, information seeking and sharing behaviours, and barriers to use of ICT by citizens in civic processes.

CIPESA’s comments on the progress of the project are interesting. They reveal not only the all-too-common problem of getting governments to open up data, but also explore some equally fascinating but less documented issues, such as the question of ICT use by citizens in political participation work. This interesting – and pessimistic – analysis of the PRDP offers more food for thought.

[1] Open Development: The Engine For Uganda’s Advancement, http://www.cipesa.org/2012/09/open-development-the-engine-for-ugandas-advancement/