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Uganda: Esther and Charles lead a people's movement
In post conflict Northern Uganda, many communities are still fragile and ignorant of their rights to quality social services. But through the Village Budget Clubs that have been formed through a project run by Diakonia and our partner organization FOWODE, Esther Awor and Charles Abura lead the way of change.
Esther and Charles lead a local budget group
In a community where leaders share one bicycle to reach distant areas advocating for fair accountable governance, the commitment of those demanding rights is admirable.
Esther Awor and Charles Abura are such leaders. They have been trained as Community Budget Advisors through Diakonia's and our partner organization FOWODE's project surrounding good governance and social accountability. Today, they run a thriving Village Budget Club (VBC) with 20 members, which has successfully held interface meetings with local leaders to lobby for better social services.
About the project: Between 2011 and 2013, Diakonia has together with our partner organization FOWODE run a project regarding good governance and social accountability through empowering the citizens of the Karamoja and Acholi sub-regions in Uganda. The project has received support from the European Union under the DemocraticGovernance and Accountability Programme (DGAP).
The budget group has made a difference
The VBC lead by Esther and Charles discovered that a privately owned health care facility supported by the government charged high consultation fees for its patients. The costs were unaffordable for most residents which forced them to avoid the centre, thereby increasingly suffering from easily treatable diseases. Esther and Charles's VBC and their club members tirelessly protested against these high costs and through several negotiations with the hospital management, the club was able to get the prices reduced by more than 50 per cent for the local children.
Esther and Charles are convinced that the people and the VBC's play key roles in the development of the social accountability in the region. "Service delivery begins from government but it's the community leaders' responsibility to sensitise the rest of the community to demand for services", they explain.
Has raised the security for school children
Esther is also particularly pleased about the changes the group has been able to make at a local primary school. The VBC discovered that the head teacher was sending pupils to the bush to fetch firewood and water for the school, in a village with high insecurity due to cattle raider activity. Through the VBC advocacy, the school and community devised a solution where parents would collect firewood for the school in turns.
Women have started to speak up
In addition to all the other activities, Esther and Charles have used their training to mentor club members in household financial management and gender responsive budgeting by local government. Most of the members had never even realised that government policies were intended to be gender responsive.
"People were fearing, just because in our community here, it always men who are supposed to command. Women are not supposed to even respond to anything which is coming out of the men’s mouth. But now I even see them speaking up, they can… with no fear", says Esther.