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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs