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Monday, March 14, 2016

CAN TECHNOLOGY BE A CATALYST FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION ?

Consultant : Social Development , Program Management, Social Monitoring Evaluation,Social Audit & Review (Freelancer)




Can Technology be a catalyst for good governance ? Yes but this is only possible through community driven development process i.e., e Society Resource Center. Meaning of life existence can be perceived only through Volunteering. As a VSO Volunteer and Information System Adviser, I could recap a professional volunteering experience in Uganda, East Africa, how technology transformed the life status of the communities in Africa.
My advisory started in 2010 at the e Society Resource Center at Kasese, western region of Uganda (http://kasese.go.ug/) managed by Rwenzori Information Centers Network, Fort Portal (http://ricnet.co.ug/).The center was like any other Internet café. I was inducted there to revive and transform the center from Internet café to a Resource Center which would act as a hub, networking the government, civil society organizations and people through technological  (IT /  ICT) intervention for mutual understanding in participation and governance process of the Local Government administration.
Hands on support to user of the centre
e-Society Resource Center trains academician,scholars and government staff.
From day one till end of my volunteering service, a strong strategic planning and active execution system has been designed and implemented. After a year (2011) , the day of my departure to bid adieu to Uganda, I found my dream had come true………. this mere internet café shaped into a full- fledged hub and resource center for the whole district of Kasese.
I am happy, overall advisory and expertise in the field of ICT enabled Knowledge Management System, sincere efforts of the RICNET staff  and the Local Government Kasese District support and commitment ignited all to achieve this result and also confirmed that sharing skills and knowledge could bring real change in the life style and mind set of the government and the people to have participatory approach in governance and advocacy.
District local Government staff training at the centre
John Silco  ED RIC-NET training District Staff
Bridging the digital divide: The e Society Resource Center is the first model in Uganda for the year 2011 and Kasese stands as the first district which introduced this tripartite combination of Government with public, private partnership with the  civil society to show the world that a healthy and transparent administrative system could be possible with the advent of IT & ICT intervention which would bring out healthy participation of people in governance. The center invites attention of the CSOs to go hand in hand with the Government to find solution for their social issues.
Team who "made e-Society Resource Center  as an active resource Hub "
The center answers the issues of inadequate access to timely and relevant information, a key aspect that limits citizen's effective participation in the government’s planning and monitoring administrative system and its processes at the district level. It is aimed at bringing the society of Kasese into purview of electronic usage for poverty alleviation to improve their social, economical, health, agricultural and educational status.
The center initiated the services like training the civil society organizations, local government staff focusing in the thematic areas of water, education, health, agriculture, human rights, good governance and advocacy by using information sharing platforms such as “d-groups, blogs, wikis and other web 2.0 tools; More number of students from the schools and the universities were given training on use of IT/ICT facilities for their employment opportunities and academic pursue.
Commissioning of e-Society resource center in April 2011

Commissioning of e-Society resource center in April 2011 and the Local Government of Kasese District signed the document for adopting the center under their Governance.
The center also introduced online and off line “Suggestion Box” (Voice of the People) to catch attention of the government on community grievance.
The center established web portals for the local government and the CSOs for proper sharing of information between them for good governance and participation.
The E-Library Portal for the Local Government to make an on line documentation of their official records, data, announcements, annual and periodical reports and budgetary provision. The Local Government maintained their documentation archive electronically with the help of the e-society resource center.
School children use the e-Society resource center's library
School children use the e-Society resource center's library
The CSO Portal for the Civil Society Organization to make an on line documentation of the CSOs profile and activities which will enable them to share their people grievances and also could help them to generate their funds and a mobile SMS technology platform enabling the citizens to express their opinion / feedback on pertinent governance issues to the District leadership.
Today in 2016, I am happy to say that the seed of e-Society Resource Center model at Kasese being replicated by RICNET and grown as a big tree with multiple branches reflecting self sustained models in other five and more districts in Uganda. Bravo! Good Job RICNET!
Till now I have been in touch with the progress and promotion of the center through online as their life time adviser and guide.
Kasese - D-groups -platform for information sharing through on line discussion is still in force and progress: https://dgroups.org/iicd/kasese.
I am proud of my volunteering with Ugandans who are kind hearted, friendly and dedicated and know the preciousness of human relationship. Only through volunteering such a nerve twisting experience one could perceive. Happy volunteering!
 K.G.Rajamohan