Corruption in Uganda is pandemic and coronavirus in Uganda presents an opportunity for scammers and businessmen to defraud citizens, often with the complicity of government officials. Already, there are accounts of citizens evading quarantine by bribing officials or by using their influence and connections in government to manipulate the system (U4 Report, 2020). Despite allocating a lot of resources, most health centres are still not prepared to handle the pandemic; this is evidenced by health workers abandoning their duty stations for lack of protective equipment.
There is still limited transparency regarding the use of these resources especially the appropriated funds, with fears that these finds may be channeled into illegal funding of the 2021 general elections. There is also secrecy in the procurement of medical supplies to address the pandemic. There are fears that government may circumvent official procurement procedures further making these procurements susceptible to corruption and diversion of public funds.
Given this background, the Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) will implement the COVID19 Citizens’ Transparency Initiative for Uganda project with the overall aim of influencing transparency and accountability outcomes in the management of COVID19 funds and resources.
The project theory of change follows the trajectory of: 1. Gathering of evidence regarding procurement of COVID19 prevention and response supplies through citizen monitoring, working with health workers to flag discrepancies, media reports and requesting for official information; 2. Disseminating this information to citizens and key stakeholders through dialogues, social media and mainstream media and; 3. Engaging stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, Parliament, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and international donor and financial agencies to cause action and push for the implementation of the suggested recommendations.
Specifically, the project will:
- Submit formal right to information requests on COVID19-related procurement plans, budgets and expenditures to government agencies including the Ministry of Health, Parliament and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and National Medical Stores
- Enable health worker reporting on COVID19 medical supplies procurement and deliveries to Health Centres via mobile phone to be compared with national purchase and disbursements in order to identify and flag discrepancies and leakages
- Support investigative journalists to investigate and unearth corruption in the coronavirus related procurements
- Produce Information, Education and Communication materials related to coronavirus and citizen reporting of corruption to be distributed by health workers following the Ministry of Health guidelines
- Engage with the public on social media to disseminate information and gather citizen feedback
- Hold virtual meetings with officials at the Ministry of Health, Parliament, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and other stakeholders on addressing the identified loopholes
- Produce an end of project report to inform future action, shared with key actors at the Ministry of Health, Parliament, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Office of the Prime Minister, International Finance Institutions, development partners and donors.
This program will build on substantial experience in Uganda on applying social accountability to promote economy and efficiency in COVID19 public expenditures. The project will initially target the Kasangati Health Centre IV, which serves over 140,000 citizens, over a six-months period to test the model for nationwide scale-up.