MBARARA – The office of the Inspectorate of Government -IG has embarked on a program to recruit and deploy more than 4,000 community volunteers to assist in the fight against corruption.
The recruitment is being carried out under a program called Community Responsibility Enhancing Transparency and Accountability (CRETA) that the Inspectorate of Government is rolling out in western Uganda.
The 1.5 billion shillings pilot program is being rolled out in five districts of Kiruhura, Mbarara, Isingiro, Ibanda and Ntungamo.
Currently in the five districts, 4,302 community monitors have been selected and distributed with Kiruhura having 666, Mbarara 738, Ntungamo 1,152, Ibanda 648 and Isingiro 1,098.
David Mugisha, the project coordinator CRETA western Uganda says the recruited volunteers have been trained in areas of good governance, demand for accountability, and how to empower other citizens in demanding for accountability as cores in the fight against corruption in the very communities they live.
Mugisha says they want the volunteers to monitor all government programs and take lead in handling grievances and to ensure that services are delivered where they are supposed to be delivered.
Mugisha says that on top of other government agencies, the Inspectorate of government thought that civil society organisations have played a big role in the mobilization of communities and on this project they would act well thus engaging them.
He says the trained volunteers were selected last year in October by CSOs based in the districts where the program is being rolled out noting that they play a big role in monitoring government programs.
Samuel Muhumuza Gamurorwa, Executive director of Justice is a Right Uganda says the program is a boost to the CSOs who are always asking for accountability from civil servants but are always denied information.
Carol Namara, a programs manager at West Ankole Civil Society Forum says that CSOs lack funds to fight corruption, but now that the government has come up to fund their projects, it is going to be easy to monitor, investigate and demand accountability for the funds released by the government every financial year.
She welcomes the training and recruitment of community people because now people themselves are going to track their resources, monitor and analyse those budgets and demand accountability from service providers.
Laban Turyatemba and other trained monitoring volunteers say they were ignorant about their rights over government programs, but have now benefited from the training and are ready to follow up and demand accountability on different projects They are anxious to begin with roads under construction, schools, and other government projects and also follow up on the approved budgets.
Oketch Fredrick, the regional Inspectorate Officer says the 4,032 monitoring volunteers were picked two per village making 18 at each parish level in the district.
Oketch expressed satisfaction that the volunteers were doing great work with the biggest percentage of arrests done arising from complaints and reports by them. However, he says they are faced with a challenge of some volunteers expecting salaries from the IGG’s office.
Recently, the head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit Lt Col Edith Nakalema said the country loses an estimated UGX 2 trillion to corrupt tendencies each year and with the initiative, Oketch says the country will be saved from the lots of trillions lost.