Sensitise citizens to demand services

Saturday November 9 2019


By Rebecca N. Mukwaya

Every once in a while, you will watch news and a community in a given district is crying foul over poor service delivery. It could be a road with poor drainage, or a school with insufficient stances or buildings that are nearly collapsing or inadequate access to clean water.
As sure as death, they will lament about their problem and end with the adage tusaba gavumenti etuyambe (literally translated as “we ask government to help us”. This and many statements from communities show how fatalistic these communities are and have resigned to a state of hopelessness.

Well, the same was the reaction of the citizens of Rubani, Kyanyambubi, Nsambya and Kinywamurara in Rukondwa Parish, Bwijanga Sub-county until a community engagement meeting was conducted by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment staff at Nsambya village on November 16, 2018.
The very poor state of Rubani-Kyanyambubi - Nsambya-Kinywamurara road that connects the four villages to service delivery units such as Kichandi Health Centre II, Kinywamurara and Kichandi Primary School, among others, was the main issue that featured in the community engagement meeting.

The community lamented about the very poor state of this road that had been neglected by the district for many years.
In attendance were area councillors Mary Mujumura and Julius Kahiira, who provided clarity to the citizens during the meeting that the said road was under the jurisdiction of Bwijanga Sub-county, while aware that the sub-county did not have the required resources to maintain the road.

Bwijanga Sub-county had requested Masindi District local government to come to their aid, but the district could not respond quickly due to financial constraints and needed more time to mobilise resources.
At this meeting, citizens were sensitised about their roles and responsibilities, and what steps their councillors would take in case they felt their issues were not being addressed by various service providers. A citizen engagement action plan was drafted in which the residents agreed to write a petition to the district authorities to help solve this problem.

Residents of the villages, through their representatives, presented their petition to the Masindi council speaker on December 4, 2018. They later held a press conference at the district gardens. This was later broadcast on the three FM radio stations in Masindi (Radio Kings, Radio Kitara and Bunyoro Broadcasting Services) that gave wider publicity and awareness of the problem.

The area councillors, together with the district chairperson, lobbied Kinyara Sugar to support the district to work on the road. Kinyara Sugar Limited responded positively and road works commenced in February 2019.
This was good because the road is also used by the sugar company to ferry outgrowers’ sugarcane to the factory; the heavy sugarcane load on the trucks was identified as one of the contributing factors to the destruction of the same road.
Rebecca N. Mukwaya,