Mr. Augustine Muserero, Programme Officer for the Governance and Human Rights Programme of the Uganda Debt Network, articulated the Ugandan experience in the monitoring and implementation of the PRSP.
In commencing his presentation, Mr. Muserero informed the conference that:
Funding for the PEAP
- Uganda’s case was unique because its Poverty Eradication Action Plan(PEAP),which is also its PRSP was conceived in 1995 before World Bank/IMF unveiled the PRSP process.
- The actual launch of the PEAP was carried out in 1997, following a two years extensive national consultative process involving a cross section of stakeholders (Central and local government, Civil Society, and the private sector).
- When the World Bank and IMF demanded that indebted countries would have to prepare PRSPs in order to access debt relief resources under the HIPIC initiative, it was accordingly agreed by the government and donors that Uganda’s PEAP would become its PSRP.
- In December 1999, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development called for a consultative meeting with donors and civil society organizations to consider revisions to the PEAP.
- After this consultative meeting, civil society organizations formed a taskforce called the Uganda Debt Network (UDN) to organize consultations for the revision of the PEAP.
In regard to funding the PEAP, Mr. Muserero informed the conference that:
Civil Society Participation in Monitoring PAF (PEAP)
- the government established a Poverty Action Fund (PAF) in the 1997/1998 financial year as a mechanism to mobilize savings from HIPIC debt relief and donor inflows for investment in the social sector for the benefit of the most vulnerable categories.
- The PAF provides funding to the following areas:
- Primary education.
- Primary health care.
- Water and sanitation treatment.
- Rural feeder roads maintenance.
- Agriculture extension.
- Micro finance /restocking programmes.
- Control of HIV/AIDS.
- Pilot schemes for adult literacy and enhancing efficiency of the judicial system.
As regards the role of civil society organizations in monitoring the implementation of the PEAP, Mr. Muserero pointed out that:
Achievements from Monitoring PAF/PEAP
- the Uganda Debt Network took the lead in monitoring the implementation of the process in Uganda to ensure that resources from debt relief secured under the HIPIC arrangement would be spent on poverty focused programs and also that services reached the intended beneficiaries;
- in May, 2000 the UDN proceeded to form locally based PAF Monitoring Committees (PMCs) at district level amongst PAF/PEAP beneficiaries to enhance local ownership of monitoring at grassroots level as well as to keep track of resource utilization at district and sub-district levels;
- through a concerted program of capacity building initiated by the UDN, the PMCs equipped with key skills and knowledge are able to carry out periodic monitoring of the implementation of the PEAP/PAF in their areas of jurisdiction thus enhancing local ownership.
In demonstrating the growing power of civil society in galvanizing the poor to monitor the implementation of ‘pro-poor’ policy interventions in Uganda Mr. Muserero observed that:
- Through various forms of training and information sharing, local communities (PAFMCs) are now empowered to carry out the monitoring of the implementation of PAF/PEAP on their own.
- In some districts, PAFMCs have been able to publish the results of their monitoring activities. Kamuli district was able to publish their report regarding monitoring in August 2001. Not only was the report widely circulated at the local, national and international level, but attracted the attention of no less eminent an institution than the World Bank which dispatched a ‘fact finding’ mission to learn from the Kamuli monitoring experience in November, 2001.
- PAFMCs have effectively mobilized civil society in their districts to support programs and develop actions against corruption. They have also committed themselves to disseminating PAF and pertinent information in their areas of jurisdiction as a way of increasing awareness of their programs.
- The UDN has further empowered local communities by introducing Community Based Management and Evaluation Systems (CBMES) at district and sub-district levels, thus enabling local authorities to continuously monitor implementation of PEAP/PAF as well as holding dialogues with public officials on gaps in service delivery in their own communities and villages.
Mr. Muserero drew attention to a number of formidable challenges that must be addressed in order to further strengthen the monitoring of PEAP/PAF:
- Ensuring the sustainability of the monitoring processes. The CBMES presents a model that is quite empowering since it ensures that local communities themselves are able to monitor the implementation of pro-poor policy interventions. Ensuring continuity of monitoring at district and sub-district levels will therefore require increased human and financial capacity.
- Uganda’s decentralization policy offers an institutional framework through which resources are transferred to district and sub-district organs in a bid to improve the quality of life of the poor through social service delivery. This calls for more vigilance at the local government level given the level of awareness among the grassroots people of their rights and entitlements.
- There is need to scale-up sensitization programs intended to enable local communities to more effectively monitor the human impacts of the PEAP/PAF. This will require scaled-up use of both electronic and print media advocacy in order to boost information dissemination targeted at district and sub-district communities.
In wrapping up his presentation, Mr. Muserero noted that:
Though the monitoring of PEAP/PAF was started largely as an initiative of the UDN, participation has been synergistically broadened to involve the local communities who in the ultimate analysis ought to tangibly and materially benefit from PAF. The formation of PAFMCs at district and sub-district levels and the subsequent introduction of CBMES have increased local ownership of anti-poverty programs and provide an oversight Framework to guard against improper utilization of funds. This civil society inspired Initiative therefore provides a sustainable route to good governance in Uganda.