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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (3)
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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid