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Friday,August 17,2018 19:45 PM

Project to simplify govt, private sector data launched

By Vision Reporters

Added 14th February 2018 02:46 PM

A baseline study carried out by the hub, last year, revealed that the ambiguity of data published by state and non-state agencies was the biggest challenge hindering citizens from accessing information on budgeting and expenditure.

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A baseline study carried out by the hub, last year, revealed that the ambiguity of data published by state and non-state agencies was the biggest challenge hindering citizens from accessing information on budgeting and expenditure.

PIC: Micheal Katagaya, the co-founder of Evidence and Methods Lab making a submission during the launch of the transparency and accountability project. ( Courtesy photo)

By Betty Amamukirori and Desire Amanya


KAMPALA - A new project has been launched to simplify government and private sector data by transforming it into an attractive and easy-to-understand format.

According to its creators, the project dubbed, transparency and accountability project, is aimed at creating an informed population that can ably demand for accountability on the expenditure of the taxes they pay to government and, also promote transparency in the Government and private sector.

Speaking at the launch of the project at Hive Colab in Kololo, Kampala, Micheal Katagaya, the co-founder of Evidence and Methods Lab, a civic innovation hub, noted that the project will help bridge the growing need for information in Uganda.

He also noted that the growing number of social media users and number of people using smartphones has created a demand for summarised and short video-packaged information for easy consumption.

“Many people are suffering because of lack of information, for example, some have lost their land because they do not know the land laws in the country and cannot fight back. This project will help search the information for them and package it in an appealing format,” he said.

A baseline study carried out by the hub, last year, revealed that the ambiguity of data published by state and non-state agencies was the biggest challenge hindering citizens from accessing information on budgeting and expenditure.

The survey was carried out to find out how the non-state and state actors share information on budgeting and public expenditure and was also supported by the US embassy.

Katagaya explained that based on the survey findings, they decided that using infographics and data visaulisation would interest more citizens, especially the youth into understanding issues of budgeting and public expenditure.

“We started this project late last year. We search results and package it in infographics and videos in an appealing format,” he said.

The project targets the urban youts and people who have access to the Internet. So far the hub has visualised the 2017/ 18 budget allocated to the agricultural sector.

Katagaya revealed that they received a grant of $20,000 (approximately sh72.6m) from the US embassy to start it and, are partnering with Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) and Great Lakes institute for Strategic Studies (GLiSS), to visualise government information.

Philip Dimon, the US embassy spokesperson, said the project will create an informed citizenry who can make their leaders accountable.

“Transparency is an essential element of democracy. If citizens don’t have trust in the Government, it can lead to many challenges,” Dimon said.

The civil society lauded the innovation saying this will help Ugandans know how the money they pay in form of taxes is spent.

“We have to ensure that public expenditure works for us. We need to know what the Government is doing with the money we pay in form of taxes,” Richard Ssewakiryanga, the executive director Uganda National NGO Forum, said.

Joy Namunoga, an advocacy officer at the Anti-Corruption Coalition, explained that the reason why Ugandans are not informed on budgetary issues is because they fear text and perceive every text document to be complicated.

She said the interpretation is also hard, especially to the peasant farmers in rural areas, who cannot decode the different sector jargons used in the documents.

For Julius Kiiza, an associate professor of Political economy and development at Makerere University, the project is an important value-addition to the areas of accountability, but advised its inventors to create information that can easily be understood by the illiterate in their local languages.

Kiiza cautioned innovators on the legal implications that could arise from the official secrets Act.

Margaret Kakande, the head budget monitoring and accountability unit at the finance ministry, advised the inventors to deepen their analysis by focusing more on sector specifics.

However, Katagaya said they are still limited in capacity, especially the human resource.

The project launched on Tuesday was graced by the various innovators in the country, government representatives and members of the academia.

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