‘The Police are very corrupt, especially when it comes to issues of police bond, there is bribery and so much more.” These remarks were made by a participant at a workshop to disseminate the findings of a District Gender Self and Peer Assessment done in the districts of Kole, Apac and Oyam.
The comprehensive, evidence based assessment, done by ACFODE with funding from Diakonia Uganda was part of the activities under the Promoting Good Governance and Gender accountability at local level project. It purposed to find out how the various stakeholders in the district view themselves and their colleagues in terms of observance of human rights, rule of law, accountability and transparency, and gender equality in service delivery at both district and sub-county levels.
In Kole district, it was reported that all the state institutions of police, army and judiciary do not effectively protect human rights because they do not act within the legal framework stipulated by the constitution and related laws. Most of the male and female respondents scored the institutions as ‘to a limited extent’ in protecting human rights. In most instances, these institutions particularly the police and judiciary were reported to be bogged down by corruption.
Ms. Maude Mugisha, the consultant disseminating the Findings of the District Gender Assessment
According to respondents, the police and judiciary officers sometimes offer services at a fee which is contrary to their mandate that requires them to serve the people without charging them for personal gains. This kind of corruption within public institutions put women at a disadvantage as they are not economically empowered to pay ‘the fees’ charged on services supposed to be free. They are also not able to negotiate their way through to access services.
It was generally recognized by both political leaders and technical officers who took part in the assessment that the participation of women in leadership and decision-making was still inadequate. The three districts were in agreement that there was need for increased sensitization of both women and men about the importance of women’s participation.
Relating to the level of service delivery, the study indicated that it was generally poor. Absenteeism and late coming of health workers, lack of drugs in health centers and lack of transparency in the allocation of resources in the NAADS programme where women were benefiting much less compared to men were some of the outstanding issues.
Anyango Doreen, a Civil society Representative during the Discussion
Despite the challenges pointed out, the assessment also showed that local citizens had a fair understanding of the concepts of gender, gender equality, human rights and good governance. They recognized that corruption and lack of accountability undermines good governance; and that the Constitution of Uganda and that the Domestic Violence Act are well known as instruments that promote gender accountability.
Responding to the findings, the Kole district speaker Mr. Apil Fredrick acknowledged weakness in the service delivery and governance systems and pledged to work towards addressing them.
“We know Kole District has its challenges, our systems don’t work as they should and our people are not happy. However, since we have come a long way since this project started, we will continue to work together to improve service delivery and the treatment of women.”
Kole District Speaker Apil Fredrick responds to the findings
The district leadership across Kole, Apac and Oyam also commended ACFODE and other Civil Society Organizations for their efforts in sensitization of communities about the importance of women’s participation in governance and decision making, mobilizing women into self-help groups and building the capacity of local leaders in understanding gender equality issues and how to address gender concerns in their programs.
Going forward, participants agreed that continued and intensified sensitization and skills development of leaders, technical personnel at district and local levels is critical to consolidating the gains achieved by the project so far and for addressing the challenges that remain. Sensitization, training, mentoring and coaching of both adults and younger people at the community level was also deemed critical. The role of ACFODE and other civil society organisations in this respect is critical and should be expanded and intensified.
Human Rights and Governance Department