More women than men have never received any information on local government budgets, whether at the council, ward, or village/mtaa level.
Making All Voices Count
This project was developed jointly by Oxfam and TAMASHA who have been working together in the same field through the Chukua Hatua project. Thus they have designed the project together and complemented one another in the implementation, evaluation and monitoring of the project, together with dissemination of the results and advocacy for open government at community level, building on the particular strengths of both organisations.
The project was designed as a result that, the lack of emphasis on citizen engagement in OGP and governance in general or even ensuring they have the relevant information is shown by the reality on the ground. For example the majority of citizens (71.2 per cent) never received information on local government budgets [REPOA research report, 2013]. More women (36.6 per cent) than men (34.6 per cent) have never received any information on local government budgets, whether at the council, ward, or village/mtaa level. The commitments of OGPII will not be effective in the long run unless they are understood, internalised and implemented down to community level.
The active citizenship model developed through Chukua Hatua is one of the ways of effectively addressing OGP challenges. This includes increasing accountability of local leaders to their communities ensuring that village accounts are presented regularly to village meetings for discussion.
This has also led to increased citizen contributions in terms of funds and engagement in various community activities and participation in village development projects. For example, animators called for a village meeting to discuss the expenditure report of funds paid by Airtel mobile company tower which was placed in a community school for six years. Animators used radio to inform wide public on the incidence. The District Commissioner (DC) after hearing the story through radio suspended the Head teacher for misuse of school funds and the District Civil engineer for approving sub-standard pre-construction. Similar meetings have been called in other communities over use of funds from external investors in mining and agriculture, as well as use of building funds etc.
More broadly, Community Animation has led to a deeper reflection on the meaning of development and the role of citizens in fostering their own future. The use of the animation model has led to communities’ identifying their own development challenges, prioritizing, developing ‘home-grown’ solutions and taking action to achieve them. It has also led to increased participation by women and young people in local governance. For example, in Mbogwe, communities moved from just contributing to improving school infrastructure to a deeper discussion on the nature of education being provided and how it is contributing to school drop-outs.
Thus, it is in the interest of both government and citizens in their communities to have greater transparency and participation and foster open government at district and community levels. Contrary to the general response by local government leaders that all questions from citizens (especially younger citizens) are disruptive and opposition inspired, the Chukua Hatua programme implemented by Oxfam and TAMASHA among others showed that, where trust is restored between local leadership and the citizens, citizens often participated enthusiastically once more in development activities and young people were in the forefront both in terms of advocating for their own rights and of participating in decision-making as a whole. Women also played a key role in empowering communities and ensuring that their rights are respected. For example, women economic empowerment groups in Ngorongoro district are used as platforms for discussion and sensitization on village governance and violence against women issues apart from focusing on economic empowerment for poverty reduction. Gender based violence was also identified in Mbogwe as a key issue to address in schools and at home.
In addition, animators’ coalitions which were formed under Chukua Hatua strengthen linkages among animators at village and Ward Levels thus facilitating exchange of knowledge and skills and providing a space for interacting with district level leaders.
Therefore, although the Chukua Hatua programme concentrated on civic engagement which included a demand for greater transparency and accountability at community level through the animation approach, it remains to be seen how these positive beginnings around specific issues can be translated into a sustainable open government approach based on acceptance of transparency and accountability by local leaders and organised civic engagement by citizens and their organisations at local level. The intention of this project is to explore how this can be achieved, with particular reference to contextualising national OGP priorities around access to information, open budgets, open data, and transparency on issues of land and extractive industry, all of which are relevant to citizens at local level, as well as the general commitment in OGP to openness around the key service sectors of health, education and water.
The project was implemented in Mbogwe district in Geita region and Kigoma-ujiji in Kigoma region.
The aim was to:
- Assess the level of open government principles and practice at community level, with particular reference to the OGP priorities of open access to information, open data, open budgets, and transparency in relation to land and extractive industries (external investment) as well as social services at a local level.
- Assess community engagement in governance with particular reference to the above, especially the engagement of women and young people.
- Use and evaluate a participatory action research approach to increasing knowledge of and participation in open government at local level, around the OGP priorities particularly by women and young people.
- Contribute to the development of a model of open government at community level which engages local leadership and CSOs, with particular reference to women and young people and leads to increased development and democracy.
- Advocate with local authorities and civil society to adapt and replicate the model, in other districts in the Lake Zone where animator coalitions already exist and further afield.
Preliminary survey implemented by Oxfam.
A preliminary survey, using mobile technology (mobile phone) carried out in Mbogwe District to assess people’s knowledge of and participation in OGP and open government. The survey was carried out by animators in Mbogwe to identify citizens’ open government priorities in terms of what information is important to them, how they can access it and how local government can best be made transparent.
To assess among other things
- Adherence by village government to open government principles (e.g. holding of village assemblies).
- Community participation in planning, decision making and monitoring of development activities in particular related to social services.
- The involvement of women and young people in the above.
- Knowledge of village budget, land transactions, relationships with investors etc. of local people
- Participation of women and young people in development of local budget.
- Knowledge of and access to the 5% fund for women and young people of the district council.
Participatory Action Research in Mbogwe implemented by TAMASHA).
Participatory Action Research, as carried out by TAMASHA, has been chosen as an effective way of both getting all the groups to give more attention to these problems and to come together for a common good within an open government partnership at community level.
- It carries out a participatory session with separate groups of men, women, young men and young women (and other marginalised groups) to enable them to analyse their own situation (in relation to their community and governance) and the causes for that situation. These activities included at least one appreciative activity to ensure that the positives are recognised as well as the problems. At the end they developed their own recommendations on how to improve the situation. Analysing from their group perspective on their own gives them time and space to develop their own ideas.
- It brought together all the groups into one community session where the viewpoints of all different groups were presented in a participatory manner once more leading to a discussion on the similarities and differences in points of view and the development of an agreed upon action plan to address the key bottlenecks identified.
- It led to direct action as the community will be responsible for implementing the action plan.
- It promote a sense of working together based on joint decision-making, implementation and monitoring of their action plan.
The animators who participated in the preliminary survey led the PAR in 10 wards in Mbogwe (two active animators, one male and one female, with an emphasis on younger animators for each ward) with the express aim of promoting open and collaborative government at community level.
These actions were followed:
- Workshop including Oxfam, TAMASHA and Mbogwe animators’ coalition to develop Participatory Action Research (PAR) action plan and tools based on the findings from the preliminary survey.
- Training of 35 Mbogwe animators (20F women, 15 men) in PAR.
- Implementation of PAR in 10 wards in Mbogwe with particular emphasis on the involvement of women and young people.
- Consensus meetings in each ward to discuss the findings from different groups, develop action plans for open government in their wards
- Selection of oversight teams in each community with strong participation of women and young people.
- Analysis of the findings in Mbogwe by TAMASHA, district personnel and animator coalition and development of report.
- Day to day follow up of action plans by animators together with oversight teams.
- Bi-monthly follow up by TAMASHA, physically and through mobile phones, including monthly self-assessment and reflection sessions with the animators and oversight teams.
The findings gathered were shared with the district community development officer on a bi-monthly basis.
Final evaluation workshops with district personnel, animators and oversight teams and planning of the way forward after the end of the project (consolidation and expansion to neighbouring communities.
Feedback workshop to local council officials and councillors to present and discuss findings and agree on how to maintain and expand the impetus created by the PAR.
Follow up mobile surveys was implemented by Oxfam carried out in Mbogwe by the same enumerators, using more refined questions.
Exchange visits with Kigoma/Ujiji
Two exchange visits were carried out. The first was a visit by Mbogwe Council Chair and council officials together with councillors, ward executive officers and village chairs and leaders of the animator coalition to Kigoma/Ujiji to assess the interaction between council and leaders and the people through their action plan and the second took place after the PAR when a similar team from Kigoma assessed how citizen engagement contributes to OGP.
Development of materials based on survey and dissemination implemented by Oxfam and TAMASHA.
Based on the findings, two forms of dissemination were used, direct and indirect. The direct dissemination was carried out by Oxfam with support from TAMASHA while the indirect dissemination was developed and implemented by TAMASHA.