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Monday, July 30, 2012

THE EXPERIENCE OF ERIC NEUMEISTER AT RIC-NET


My name is Eric David Neumeister, from Laurel Ave, Lake Forest, USA , a student at Dickson College  and I have been an intern at RIC-NET for the last 2 months. Generally, I’ve been involved with documentation and editing, but I’ve also been researching micro-finance, and developing a proposal for beginning a savings and credit scheme. I have enjoyed my time at RIC-NET tremendously, and I’m grateful to Executive Director John Silco for giving me the opportunity, and to the entire RIC-NET staff for their kindness and hospitality. I want to use this opportunity to extend my thanks to the entire organization, and also to say that I admire RIC-NET’s work, as well as that of all of its affiliates. 


In my 10 weeks here I have learned all about how RIC-NET operates and its plans for the future, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of those operations and that planning. I plan to take all the knowledge that I have gained back home with me, to share it, and hopefully eventually to return and share what I can with the organizations. I wish RIC-NET, its employees, and its partners all the best, and I want again to thank everybody who I have been involved with in my time here .

Monday, July 16, 2012

FORGET PHC FUNDS, DHO TELLS HEALTH CENTER IN-CHARGE

Ms. Baguma Samalie is an In-charge at Rwengaju HC II. Samalie a lady in her mid thirties has proven to be hardworking and committed to saving lives in Rwengaju parish Busoro Sub County, Kabarole District. Supported by five other staff, Samalie has through thick and thin managed to keep the HC effectively running and growing.
Apart from reporting for duty everyday at 8:00am to 6:00pm which is not the case with most of today’s Health workers, Samalie has gone ahead to use her personal savings and salary to implement several activities at the HC especially the outreach activities like immunization.
Samalie who is around two years old at the HC revealed to the RWECO monitoring team on 27.06.12 that she and her staff had offered to use their own savings to run the center, with the hope that they would recover these funds when Government sends the HC’s PHC funds. Such love for the people and commitment at work is what I find inspiring and tongue tying as well.
Whereas government is failing on its role to provide adequate PHC funds to HCs coupled with its delay, it has gone ahead to cut the national health budget year after year, and also deny some HCs their PHC arrears; Rwengaju HCII is one of them. According to the HC In-charge the HC serves a population of over 9000 people, receives between 20-40 people per day and 18milllion shillings PHC funds per year. Unfortunately this money comes in late or doesn’t even come at all, for instance Samalie revealed that “as much as PHC funds are expected to be quarterly and 1900000 million shillings per year, we usually receive around 850000 shillings only which also comes in late, like after 2 quarters or even nothing at all; for example we have not received PHC for almost a year now. We were forced to use our own savings to keep the Center running, hoping that we shall recover it, unfortunately when i followed up with the DHO in early June, he told me to forget that money-the arrears. He said that government does not have money to even fund current programs so demanding and expecting arrears becomes even more difficult
The HC In-Charge talking to the monitoring team at the HC.
Samalie revealed that she finds the situation and the DHO’s communication very demoralizing and scary, “I do not know how we shall keep working with inadequate funds. And now that we can’t even recover our previous monies, I do not think we the staff can continue funding the HC, Government should do something” Samalie remarked.
Looking at the amount of PHC funds received versus the total population of Rwengaju parish, it is clear that each person gets less than 3shillings of the PHC funds; an amount so small to save a life, not even treat minor diseases.
With the limited support government is giving to the Health sector and Rwengaju HCII in particular, it goes without saying that even the self motivated and hardworking staff at the HC will lose interest in their work and let things/services and lives ‘go to the dogs’. There is need for continued advocacy and lobbying of the government by development partners, and health practitioners to increase the health budget and PHC

WEST NILE EMBRACES ICT TO ENHANCE CIVIC COMPETENCE


ENHANCING CIVIC COMPETENCE TO STRENGTHEN SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN 25 DISTRICTS, IN FIVE REGIONS OF UGANDA” is an EU funded project and one of it’s components is the design of District websites and E-libraries where RIC-NET is mandated on behalf of CEW-IT to implement the design of these online platforms.
This project is running in 25 Districts in the five regions of Uganda namely western, Central, Teso, Acholi, and West Nile. The core objective of these websites is to strengthen information sharing within the Districts and with partners outside the District
The key roles of RIC-NET therefore include;
Ø  Sensitizing and training District leaders and staff on use and value of websites
Ø  Domain name registration and hosting fee payments
Ø  Designing and building dynamic websites for Districts
Ø  Designing and development of E-libraries for the Districts
Ø  Integrating web 2.0 tools and other social media such as twitter, face book, youtube,d-group with district website.
Ø  Integrating website issues with Huduma and bulk Sms.
Interface meetings with District leaders
Two districts were selected for the first round of meetings and that was Koboko and Arua.
Koboko District

The meeting took place on 9th July 2012 at Koboko District headquarters in the Chairperson’s office. In attendance were;
S/N
Name
Title
Sex
01.
Hon. Nginya Hassan Said
District Chairperson
M
02.
Mr. Asenda Patrick
Assist. C.A.O
M
03.
Ms Adraa Gloria winnie
Dist. Information officer
F
04.
Hon.Mukili
Secretary Social services
M
05.
Hon. Innocent Paul
Deputy speaker
M
06.
Mr. Abele Emmanuel Moro
P.P.O
M
07.
Hon. Goro Grace
Vice C/person
F
08.
Mr.Albert
Prog.officer CEFORD
M
09.
Mr.M John Silco
Executive Director RIC-NET
M
10.
Mr. Okuti Richard
Partner RIC-NET
M
11.
Mr.Yosia Baluku
ICTO-RIC-NET
M

Among issues discussed were the district website that was provided by UCC and therefore has not been active for a while and would therefore need redesign and activating www.koboko.go.ug . The E-library was also discussed as a component of the website and district officials appreciated and welcomed the idea. The District vice chairperson also appreciated this saying it had come at time when the district really needed since other smaller institutions like the town council had one and that this was a challenge to the district.
The District chairperson appreciated the CSO work and pledged cooperation of the district to have this fulfilled and in the quickest time possible.
They (District leaders) also appreciated the training component to them under this project that would answer some of their problems for the sustainability and having an updated website.
The district officials also highlighted a number of challenges that the district is going through like lack of ICT equipment where the District Information officer has no computer, internet connectivity problems, lack of technical knowledge, finances among others.
Way forward
Ø  An M.O.U is shared and more input be made by the district leadership and later signed between Koboko District and CEFORD so that work can officially start.
Ø  The district focal person to start collecting current information from departments so as work to become much easier and quicker as it starts.
Ø  District information officer mandated to be the focal person for this project
Ø  And that design and development of the online platforms commences immediately after the signing of the M.O.U
Ø  C.A.O writes to UCC to get more details about the previous district website

Arua District Local Government
The meeting was held in the afternoon (2:30pm) of 9th July 2012 in the Chief Administrative officer at the District headquarters.
Agenda was;
*      Prayer
*      Introductions
*      Welcome remarks from Host
*      Word from CEFORD
*      Project highlights from the team leader CEW-IT/RWECO
In attendance were;
S/N
Name
Title
sex
01.
Ms. Sarah O
Senior Assistant secretary-CAOs office
F
02.
Ms. Achan Stella
District population officer
F
03.
Hon. Achema Genesis
District speaker
M
04.
Ms. Megwe Jane
District information officer
F
05.
Ms Faridah
Project officer CEFORD
F
06.
Mr.John silco
ED RIC-NET
M
07.
Mr. Ayayo
Officer CEFORD
M
08.
Mr. Okuti Richard
Partner RIC-NET
M
09.
Mr. Yosia Baluku
ICTO-RIC-NET
M

The senior Assistant secretary from the CAO’s office who also chaired the meeting welcomed the team for having arrived safely in Arua and thanked CEFORD for the continued support and partnership they have had with Arua District Local Government.
The project focal person from CEFORD also reminded the members about the concept  that they had shared with the district officials before.


The executive director RIC-NET explained the whole concept of the ICT component in this project “ENHANCING CIVIC COMPETENCE TO STRENGTHEN SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN 25 DISTRICTS, IN FIVE REGIONS OF UGANDA” as the design of the district websites and e-libraries. He also went ahead and explained the other components that would come along with the development of these online platforms like training of the district focal staff in updating these online platforms more easily since the application that is going to be used would be more user friendly.
He also explained the citizen’s voice platform www.citezenvoice.ug that is another component of this project that would facilitate reporting and feedback also with a bulk sms component.
The district officials appreciated and welcomed the project and pledged for maximum support and cooperation.

The District speaker was also appreciative of the design of these online platforms since the world today is going “dotcom”. He also pledged for maximum support on behalf of the District council.
Way forward
Ø  An M.O.U is shared and more input be made by the district leadership and later signed between Arua District and CEFORD so that work can officially start.
Ø  The district focal person for this project to be appointed by C.A.O and that the D.I.O by default assumes being focal person and communication will officially be made on who is focal.
Ø  And that design and development of the online platforms commences immediately after the signing of the M.O.U
Ø  C.A.O writes to UCC to get more details about the previous district website
        

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“L and E”, STRUCK DOWN BUT NOT DESTROYED

Listening to a community recount its achievements is a pleasant thing to many. On this chilly Thursday morning of 4th July, Charles Kaliba the RICNET community outreach officer and the Information Volunteer Ahumuza Miriam anxiously hoped into the car with the hope of a delightful day listening to what would be the annual general meeting of a successful NGO “L and E”. L and E (Literacy and Empowerment) is a community based organization that aims at eradicating poverty through increasing literacy and empowering citizens. This is through their Circles and reflection centers spread through the Sub County in the areas of Kikula, Rwenkuba, Kitaka, Karago, Katungulu, Mandaku, Bulila and Nyankaro.
On reaching at L and E, we received a good reception from Fred Baguma the acting Chairperson of the Organization.  L and E despite being in a rural area has lots of capacity like hardworking and qualified staff, equipment-computers, a generator, Television screen and books. Besides this, the extension of electricity to organizations’ premises has made work a lot easier and faster for the L and E.
 Several community members ranging from the elderly, to the youth turned up for the meeting. Approximately eighty (80) people participated in this meeting.

Land E members listening to Fred Baguma, the acting chairperson.
Starting the meeting, the guest of honor Mr. Mwanga Julius, KRC Director, welcomed everyone to the meeting and also guided the meeting through a process of self understanding/assessment. From this session members realized and also acknowledged that they were not ready for the Annual general meeting.  And as thus, suggested 19th July 2012 as the day for another general meeting when feedback from the selected committees such as constitution review would be sought. It is on the same day that a date for the Annual General meeting discussed. .
Impressive to note is that inspite of the internal challenges that L and E has been facing, it has worked so hard to stop them from escalating to and its centers; simply put, the Centers remained up and running despite the challenges at the Center.
Interestingly the reflection centers and Circles did not only keep in business but they created and or opened up new Centers in other areas with in the region. And on this particular day, all these Centers had assembled to discuss and also agree on a strategy together to rebuild their

Chales Kaliba Ricnet community outreach officer( left),  Mr Mwanga Julius the KRC Director( third left) at the function
founder organization.
RIC-NET, KANCA and KRC were all there to guide them in this process. They helped the members   to resolve the few disagreements and challenges that the Organization was facing. Despite the hard times that the organization has been going through, it was evident that the members still loved, cherished their organization and still wanted to rebuild it and see it vibrant, and strong like before.
I personally found this determination, commitment and love amongst the members tongue tying; first they patiently sat, attentively listened, and actively participated in the session of understanding the nature of their work/organization.  The willingness of the members to set aside their differences to rebuild L and E paved way for successful deliberations and planning for a successful future.  By the end of the day, the members had understood the nature of their organization and appreciated the need for cooperation.
RIC-NET, KRC and KANCA pledged to provide support to the community based Organization and to attend the 19th July meeting and AGM due in August.