To speak out and report about corruption can be risky in Uganda. The situation is exacerbated by lack of access to information about public funds disbursements, especially by citizens, which incapacitates their ability to follow the money, thereby making public funds vulnerable to capture.
Bureaucratic obstacles as well as attitudes of over-protectiveness and suspicion frequently hamper free access to information. Ugandan journalists and human rights activists have generally little knowledge of how to access, assess and communicate information about government budgets – journalism training does not provide for specialisation in economic or financial reporting.
However, the media's, civil society's and the government monitoring functions can reduce capture of public funds through provision of information on disbursements to citizens.
During 2013-2016, UMDF and Transparency International Uganda piloted "Action for Transparency”, a concept by Fojo Media Institute to fight corruption and mismanagement of government funds by putting the power to change in the hands of journalists, civil society activists and ordinary citizens. The pilot was carried out in the Wakiso District outside Kampala.
The Action for Transparency concepts allows anyone, using a mobile phone or a computer with Internet access, to check the amount of government resources pledged to each school and health clinic in the targeted district. If this didn't match reality, it is possible to report to the local organisations running the project, using the App or the Web.
2 000 journalists, civil society activists and civil servants in the capital district were trained to access, assess and communicate information on government budgeting. In 2014, a public awareness campaign was launched, promoting the app/web and inspiring journalists, civil servants, civil society activists and citizens to report on suspected corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
After the trial projects in Zambia and Uganda, the Action for Transparency concept is presently being developed in selected districts in Kenya, see here.