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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid