Action for Development (ACFODE) in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) conducted exchange learning visits for the councilors of Kabale district to Kabarole District which is the best performing districts in the western region. The exchange learning visits was to enable the councilors get hands on experience on how successful councils work.
The key speakers at the one and half day event included Hon Rwabuhinga Richard- the District chairperson Kabarole district, Hon. Koojo Mathew- the Deputy Speaker Kabarole, Ms Regina Bafaki – the Executive Director ACFODE, Hon. Mbadde Christopher Emmanuel- DCDO Kabarole district, and Hon. Dorcus Akome- the Secretary of Health and Education Amolator district.
In her address, Ms Regina Bafaki – the Executive Director ACFODE stretched that the purpose of the meeting was to learn from each other on how successful councils are run (especially in regard to supporting women so that they can be able to be supported in being leaders), to be able to implement the lessons in the different districts and to network and connect with each other. She also explained why the meeting was in Kabarole, sighting that Kabarole district has had among the best local government leadership, according to the ‘scorecard’ project by the Local Government Authority and ACODE.
Ms Regina Bafaki gives her opening remarks during the training
A number of success stories, encouragements and challenges were shared among the leaders and many of the stake holders discussed the way forward on matters of education, leadership, accountability and project implementation. Hon. Rwabuhinga shared that it is important to always work as a team in the local government because without team work, the local government is unable to register any results in their role as service providers.
He added that the district office is very involved in all the levels of project formation in Kabarole; both in technical capacity and in political capacity. He emphasized the need to adopt a ‘nothing for us, without us’ mentality in all the projects being done so that everyone is able to celebrate the successes and the processes of the project, together.
Regarding education, Rwabuhinga explained that Kabarole District encourages parents to intervene in their own children’s lives through creating partnerships with the schools and encouraging parents to pay small additional fees every year that the district distributes to different schools. Mr Rwabuhinga addresses Kabale Women councillors during their visit to Kabarole district
Hon. Koojo Mathew pointed out that Kabarole local government is very gender sensitive, pointing out that the District Speaker, Vice Chairperson and the Council Disciplinarian are ladies. He added that with accountabilities, sub county chiefs are considered as team leaders which allows them to be included in the planning for the districts. He also reprimanded some of the councilors for not visiting the lower local government offices consigning that their job is only at the district offices. He argued that visiting the constituencies allows the district officials to get accountability for different projects.
In furtherance of this, he mentioned that in Kabarole District, council members visit each other and contribute to the events in each other’s’ lives, a strategy they adopted to be able to give the councilors a better life after they leave the office. This also creates cohesion among the councilors and allows for interconnected interventions. This was reported to be done at least every two weeks.
Hon. Mbadde Christopher- the DCDO-Kabarole district also shared that the cause of misinterpretations in most other districts is the fact that councils are not able to capture all the issues of gender and integrating gender issues in all the projects.
In addition to the above, the Kabarole district leadership has mobilized groups of women, the disabled and children to participate in government programs. This empowerment has resulted in information and knowledge sharing, as well as active involvement in politics, leadership and decision making by both women and men.
However there are some challenges such as the gaps in skills especially in terms of monitoring and evaluation and data collection. This often leads to creation of interventions without a clear researched basis. It then becomes hard to have a clear picture of the problems in the sub-counties as data collected is inadequate Also, there is still low involvement of women and people with disabilities (PWDs) and this is affected by men who refuse their wives from attending such meetings for fear that they may be going out to meet other men.
At the end of the visit the councilors pledged to return to their districts and replicate the incredible lessons they had learned from Kabarole District. They were in a special way glad that Action for Development and KAS are continuously considering their District Council in their programmes.