To speak out and report about corruption can be risky in Uganda. The situation is exacerbated by lack of access to information about the disbursement of public funds disbursements which diminishes the ability of citizens to follow the money, thereby making public funds vulnerable to theft. Bureaucratic obstacles as well as attitudes of over-protectiveness and suspicion frequently hamper free access to information. Additionally, Ugandan journalists and human rights activists have generally little knowledge of how to access, assess and communicate information about government budgets. Very few journalists attend specialised courses in economic and financial reporting.
Against this background, Fojo Media Institute, UMDF and Transparency International Uganda piloted a concept called “Action for Transparency”, an approach to fight corruption and mismanagement of government funds by putting the power to change in the hands of journalists, civil society activists and ordinary citizens. The pilot was carried out in Kampala.
The Action for Transparency concepts allows anyone, using a mobile phone or a computer with Internet access, to check the amount of government resources pledged to each school and health clinic in the targeted district. If this doesn't match reality, using an app or the web, it is possible to report that to the local organisations running the project. Almost 2,000 journalists, civil society activists and civil servants in the capital were trained to access, assess and communicate information on government budgeting. In 2014, a public awareness campaign was launched, promoting the app/web and inspiring journalists, civil servants, civil society activists and citizens to report on suspected corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
The trial project was implemented in Uganda and Zambia from 2013 to 2016. The Action for Transparency concept has now developed and is presently being implemented in selected districts in Kenya. See here.