Uganda Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP)

Giving Ugandans a voice in local and national government by strengthening basic services and civil society

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

The delivery of government services throughout Uganda has long been imperiled by a lack of accountability, cumbersome systems, and corruption. In short: government agencies are not providing their communities with the basic services they need.

A major part of the problem is the inability of citizens to make their voices heard in the governance process, particularly in rural communities. Many Ugandans do not have a reliable way to make government officials aware of urgent needs or lingering problems, and many local governments have no established system to get reliable information from their citizens.

The result of this silence? Inaction. Inadequate tax revenue collection for services, weak capacity in elected government officials, and widespread government corruption in procurement and human resources further cripple the citizen-government relationship.

Increasing Participation and Accountability through Uganda GAPP

RTI is the lead implementer of the USAID Uganda Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP) program. This program helps Uganda strengthen its systems and civil society, giving Ugandans a voice in local and national government.

Uganda GAPP, which seeks to improve government service delivery and increase the ability of citizens to hold officials accountable, focuses on three components:

  • Supporting and strengthening national-level government accountability institutions in their interaction with local governments
  • Strengthening local government revenue, procurement, financial, and planning systems
  • Strengthening civil society organizations and other non-state actors to improve accountability and bolster the voice of citizens.

Based on successes to date, and with new funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) received in 2015, Uganda GAPP expanded from 25 to 35 districts across Uganda.

Creating an Environment of Accountability

In partnership with UNICEF, in August 2014 GAPP launched a pilot intervention—dubbed U-Bridge—in the Arua District to facilitate dialogue between Ugandan citizens and local government leaders. The intervention used an SMS (short message service) platform that enabled communities to send text messages to their local officials regarding delivery—or lack thereof—of social services related to education, health, agriculture, and more. In essence, U-Bridge is a tool for increasing social accountability.

We facilitated civic education meetings where citizens learned about their rights to service provision and which government entity is responsible for various services. Following those meetings, more than 5,000 community members registered for the U-Bridge platform, sending 80 messages per month on average to district leaders. As part of the intervention, district officials are provided with tablets and internet access so they can easily access messages.

As a result, Ugandan citizens participating in U-Bridge have been able to make their voices heard and to get results. Increased engagement between communities and their local leaders has resulted in improvements in government services that have included repairs of four bridges, five roads, and five water boreholes. Citizens have also seen increased staffing at health facilities and improvements in the education system—including a 30 percent reduction in teacher absenteeism and, in one school, a reduction in the classroom-to-pupil ratio from 1:292 to 1:97.

The U-Bridge model will soon be scaled up in other districts in Uganda and replicated in other countries based on the findings of the ongoing impact evaluation.

In the coming years, we will continue our work in support of USAID, Government of Uganda, and nongovernmental efforts to improve democratic governance and accountability, leading to more equitable and efficient service delivery for the local communities.