Forum calls for stronger partnership between Media and CSOs to improve oversight for service delivery
KAMPALA - Strengthening the partnership between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media is essential to effectively advocate for good governance and better services for citizens, UNDP Assistant Country Director, Ms. Patience Alidri, has said.
Ms Alidri said this while addressing participants at the Social Accountability bi-annual learning forum held on Tuesday, June 10th, at Hotel Africana in Kampala. Held under the theme, “Media: A key player for realising social accountability,” the Forum brought together over 50 CSOs at the national and sub national level, including media practitioners, to enable CSOs share experiences and develop strategies on how to work together to advance social accountability.
Ms Alidri called on CSOs and the media to act not only as government “watchdogs” but also serve as important measurement of popular opinion on how well institutions and agencies are performing their public roles.
“By tracing and critically analyzing new trends and tendencies in society, a free media provides decision makers with invaluable information, thus improving the quality of policy debate, informed oversight and strengthened policy making process,” she said.
The Executive Director, Uganda National NGO Forum, Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, commended the media for providing a forum for debate for different actors, but noted that the potential of the media to foster social accountability remains largely untapped.
“A number of civil society organizations understand the potential power of social media to connect with both old and new supporters, advocates and clients and have opened up social media pages such as face book, twitter and you tube, but are yet to fully exploit these platforms to advance their causes”, he noted.
A session entitled, “Strengthening Strategic Partnerships between Media and Advocacy: Sharing models; stories of change and challenges”, moderated by KFM Radio talk-show host, Mr Charles Mwanguhya, explored the experiences of media, social media groups and CSOs at nationals and subnational level in working together to provide effective oversight.
Ms Lynn Najjemba, Program Officer-Governance, at Panos Eastern Africa, advised CSOs to develop media strategies as part of their advocacy and to pitch stories that depict impact and change, to attract maximum media coverage. Panellist Ms Esther Kalenzi, Executive Director and co-founder of 40 Days over 40 Smiles Foundation, shared her experience of using social media to fundraise money and raise awareness of the needs of vulnerable children, and highlighted the need to evaluate the suitability of social media along with other forms of media before engaging in a campaign.
The bi-annual learning forum is part of the Social Accountability Platform, supported by UNDP through the project on “strengthening oversight functions for accountable service delivery,” currently being implemented by the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, the National Planning Authority (NPA) and the National Non-Government Organizations’ (NGO) Forum. The Social Accountability Platform is hosted by the Uganda National NGO Forum and constitutes 5 thematic areas, including, Anti- Corruption, Health, Education, Gender and Livelihoods.
Social accountability is an approach that relies on civic engagement, in which ordinary citizens and civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in monitoring and holding those in power accountable
Since 2011, UNDP has worked in partnership with civil society through the NGO Forum, to promote social accountability and integrate it in to national development and service delivery processes at the central and local governance levels. Last year a country wide process was completed on monitoring the progress of the National Development Plan one. This year, UNDP is supporting the ongoing regional consultations to obtain views on the second National Development Plan from the public through CSOs.
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