This programme aims at enhancing active and informed citizen participation, a culture of regular free and fair elections, adherence to the principle of separation and devolution of power, respect for human rights and observance of rule of law, and transparent and accountable leadership at all levels.
Under this thematic area, there are three main programmes namely;
- Civic participation
- Parliamentary Liaison
This programme aims at strengthening the capacity of citizens to hold their leaders accountable through information provision, sensitization and awareness creation; enhancing advocacy and promoting quality service delivery at community, sub-county and district levels; and strengthening reporting and feedback mechanisms between leaders and citizens through the citizens’ forum.
Citizen Participation Programme
Transparent and accountable governance
The citizen participation programme is intended to increase and ensure active participation of citizens in issues of community development. By so doing the programme facilitates and enhances citizens’ capacity to hold leaders accountable. The programme was inspired by biblical teachings on good leadership in Mathew 20: 25- 27, John 13: 1-17, Nehemiah 2: 11-20.
The programme is implemented through local church structures known as Ecumenical Joint Action Committees (EJACS) who facilitate citizens with and gather relevant information for dissemination and advocacy on service delivery and budget allocation and utilization at district and sub county level. The EJACS mobilize citizens and create awareness about the programme.
The programme also further contributes to increased awareness on the roles and responsibilities of various local government organs and citizens through civic education.
To increase the participation of citizens in promoting transparent and accountable governance at community level.
- To strengthen the capacity of citizens to hold their leaders accountable through information provision, sensitization and awareness creation.
- To strengthen community, sub-county and district advocacy.
- To promote quality service delivery at the community, sub county and district levels.
- To build the capacity of EJACs to facilitate citizen participation in accountable governance.
- To strengthen reporting and feedback mechanisms between the leaders and the citizens through the Citizens Forum.
Activities of the Programme are:
- Mobilize citizens and leaders to convene citizen forums. A forum is deliberately held to enable interactions and discussions between leaders and citizens on issues that impact on the welfare of communities. Participants to these forums explore possible solutions to the identified challenges.
- Facilitate easy access to key information by use of Notice boards placed in strategic locations like the trading centers.
- Increase flow of information and views and developmental ideas from citizens through the use of suggestion boxes that are placed at strategic places.
- Use media programmes
- Hold dialogue meetings between citizens, policy makers and civic leaders.
- Sensitize and educate communities on their rights, civic roles and responsibilities.
- Programme area of operation
The citizen participation programme that was started in 2007 was piloted in the districts of Mityana and Iganga in two sub counties per district with support from Norwegian Church Aid.
In 2009, with support from DIAKONIA-Sweden, the programme was extended to the districts of Abim, Pader, Kaberamadio and Dokolo.
Empowering Members of Commissions, Councils and Committees of all member churches and Ecumenical Joint Action Committees (EJACs) in 15 regions with civic education knowledge and skills enabled them to actively engage in delivering civic education to the population in their areas, within Uganda. The affirmative action builds on the work that had already started in a programme of workingthrough the Karamojong tradition system to enhance community participation in decentralisation for improved service delivery and holding leaders accountable.
Through support to Church members in Karamoja in capacity Building in Conflict Sensitivity, Decentralization, Rights Based Approach and promoting effective Citizen Participation in holding leaders accountable, the Ecumenical Joint Action Committees (EJACs) of South Karamoja Dioceses based in Moroto and North Karamoja based in Kotido cascaded skills to the districts within their mandates like Abim and Kaabong for North Karamoja and Nakapiripirit and Amudat for South Karamoja.
The Karamoja region also made Civic Education preparations for the 2011 Elections approach where Skills of EJACS were built who later used their knowledge in the districts within their Dioceses. In an effort to strengthen the capacity of the EJACs (religious leaders) in the delivery of civic education and citizen participation; knowledge and skills were enhanced in Human rights based approaches to development; Human rights and gender equality; Development of District work-plans; and Programme management issues.
Civic education materials in form of booklets, brochures, posters, fliers, T-shirts were developed and disseminated to deliver empowerment messages to the masses in the region. Some materials were also translated in the local language for easy use by the civic educators and the citizens. As a result, the knowledge empowered Karamojongs to effectively participate in the election processes and actively participated in governance processes as their constitutional right. They also appreciated their roles and responsibilities as citizens of Uganda.
CSOs empowered to influence citizen participation
UJCC in partnership with National Democratic Institute, conducted capacity building sessions for a number of CBOs in the areas of; conducting a baseline survey; data entry and analysis for a baseline survey report; and research report writing; advocacy, networking; community dialogue and communication. Among the CBOs that benefited from this were; CIFOVUP, UWESO- Kumi, YAPI and Bumakwe Widows Group.
The programme aims at strengthening the involvement of community leaders and civil society organizations in working for a just society. Initiatives undertaken include advocacy on governance-related issues; such as advocacy on free and fair elections, anti-corruption, promotion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and election observation at all levels-national, local, regional and international.
Parliamentary Liaison Programme
This programme seeks to increase civil society’s engagement and participation in the legislative processes. It focuses on information gathering and dissemination of parliamentary proceedings, legislation and other policy documents; creating space for dialogue on draft legislation; and soliciting people’s views on government policies and programmes.
UJCC engagements with Parliament
Because of her undoubted experience in engaging with Parliament on numerous bills, UJCC is always called on to make inputs on bills before Parliament. She uses the opportunity to solicit different opinions and views from Religious leaders and the public by creating space for dialogue on draft legislations. These views and opinions later make the memorandum that is presented to respective committees of Parliament.
UJCC has input in a number of Bills among which:
- The Kampala Capital City Authority Bill 2009;
- The HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention Bill, 2010;
- The Regional Governments Bill, 2009;
- The Regulation of Interception of Communication Bill, 2007;
- Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs);
- The East African Community Election Bill,2008;
- and The Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2009.
UJCC Parliamentary Bulletins
UJCC publishes and disseminates bi-monthly Parliamentary Bulletins through out the year. The bulletins highlight the process of bills in Parliament, and any business as regards to Parliament.
The Bulletins are a good source of information of what goes on in Parliament and understanding parliamentary processes. Issues highlighted in the Bulletins provide useful reference materials for religious leaders and other stakeholders who are keen on following the work of Parliament.
CSOs engagement with Parliament
UJCC together with other Civil Society Organisations are in discussions of coordinating more effective engagements between civil society organizations and Parliament. A draft strategy for engagement was prepared by a Consultant following consultations with different CSOs working with Parliament. The strategy was adopted and will act as a guide for CSOs engagement with Parliament. The strategy is a big step towards consolidating efforts by civil society to undertake a more coordinated approach to advocacy issues involving Parliament. It represents the consensus of the CSOs involved in the process.