Strong grassroots vital to enhance good governance



Unless the government builds strong grassroots capable of fully participating in project proposing and decision making process, questioning and tracking public finance expenditure, taxpayers’ money allocated for project implementation, especially in rural areas will continue to yield poor results.

This observation has been made here over the weekend by leaders of Kagera Development and Credit Revolving Fund (KADETFU), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), whose activities are also financed by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

KADETFU leaders issued the caution when recounting to FCS on the results of the pilot project currently under implementation titled ‘Building Capacity for the Public, Village and Ward Leaders in Participatory Planning and Budget Process in Bukoba District’.

Syliveter Busanya, KADETFU Project Coordinator, said the organisation, whose mission is to protect human rights, conservation of the environment, facilitate promotion of social, economic, cultural development and thus empower the society to organize and fight for their needs through utilizing locally available resources, has so far visited eleven villages in Bukoba district.

According to him, in all areas they visited villagers appeared to have either very little or completely no knowledge on their civic rights, especially in holding leaders accountable in various matters while  members of Village and Ward Development Committees appeared to have little knowledge on their roles.

He said due to ignorance villagers were denied of their civic right to participate in initiating projects and tracking expenditures of development funds allocated for projects implementation in their areas.

In some areas KADETFU learned that village general meetings (village assemblies) were hardly convened, a trend that negatively impacted on village development matters, such making decisions on Land Use Plan ( LUP) and land conflict resolution.

“If the government wants to ensure that funds allocated for projects is judiciously spent then it has to invest in building capacity for the grassroots”, Busanya insisted.

“We, at KADETFU with the financial assistance of the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) have recorded significant results in areas where we have so far visited to implement this project. In the course of implementing this task we have noted that there is a pressing need for the government to collaborate with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to build capacity for the grassroots to enhance governance”.

Agastin Angelo, who also works with KADETFU as Project Coordinator, recounted that in areas visited by KADETFU villagers were now capable of pressing village leaders to convene general meetings and demand answers to various pertinent questions.

According to Angelo, KADETFU through FCS’ financial assistance is involving members of village and ward development committees in the training by focusing on the roles of each group, as far as governance is concerned.

“Though the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) through NGOs has all along been instrumental in building capacity for civil society in the country we think it must also direct its resources to strengthen the grassroots to be able to participate in decision making process, track public finance expenditure and also hold their leaders accountable,” he observed.

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