News / Africa

Ugandan App Lets Citizens Blow Whistle on Local Corruption

Gerald Businge demonstrates the Action for Transparency app, Kampala, July 2, 2014. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
Gerald Businge demonstrates the Action for Transparency app, Kampala, July 2, 2014. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)

Until recently, spotting corruption in Uganda required intimate knowledge of a public institution’s finances. But now — in theory, at least — you need nothing more than an Internet connection.

Ugandan anti-corruption groups are testing a phone app that citizens can use to check the amount of money the government spends on schools and health clinics, and report when the money is not used for the right things. 

Called "Action for Transparency" (A4T), the app was developed by Ugandan civil society groups to show citizens how much money schools and health centers are allocated, and for what.

When people see signs the money is not being spent for its intended purpose, all they need to do is click on an icon that says “whistle.”

According to Gerald Businge of Uganda Media Development Foundation, which is responsible for managing the app, the technology attempts to drive home the local effects of corruption and get citizens involved, giving anyone in Uganda the opportunity to anonymously blow the whistle when funds go missing. 

“If, for example, the money was for buying medicine, and the medicine is not available, and they know that actually the money came, then they can be able to report that at this health center there is no medicine," said Businge. "They can whistle-blow on any school, on any health center. And then one of our partners, Transparency International, is able to follow up on that report.”

Having the eyes of the public upon them should stop many officials from stealing money, Businge adds, explaining that it will also help catch corruption earlier, making money easier to track.

But corruption is not the only problem with Uganda’s public institutions, he says. Schools and health clinics are also embracing the project because it will show the public how poorly funded they really are.

“Because there is so much rampant corruption, people think money is being stolen even when it is not being stolen," he said. "They think they will get a chance for people to know how much is allocated to them and how little actually it is.”

Uganda is regularly rocked by corruption scandals at all levels of government, and Transparency International ranks the country as among the most corrupt in East Africa.

For the moment Action for Transparency is only available for institutions in and around Kampala, but Businge says there are plans to eventually expand up-country.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Moris from: Uganda
July 03, 2014 10:33 AM
With several civil society organizations leveraging the use of ICT and most importantly by adapting them, we hope to see a transitional change since ICT's help in easing such

by: Ddungu Musa Evand from: New Zealand
July 02, 2014 5:28 PM
The only way to stop Corruption is Leadership change. Dictator Museveni and all his entire corrupt regime must go in order to bring things back to normal
In Response

by: Gerald Businge from: Uganda
July 03, 2014 9:53 AM
True leadership change can rid the country of current corrupt leaders but it is easy for the new leaders to also get corrupt and we keep in that unfortunate cycle. The real weapon we believe is empowering the citizens to know how much is allocated for what in their localities (Action for Transparency is providing disaggregated data that is accessible anytime anywhere), providing them a secure way to whistle blow in case public funds are not being utilised properly and working with different players -authorities and activists to ensure those who steal or misuse public funds are brought to book. Even when the prosecution may be hard, the ability by members of the public to report anomalies based on data of funds allocated and the reality at the school or health center, and the public discussions on these reports will make it hard for officials to steal or misuse public money.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More