February 19—The United States Embassy in Kampala is helping to fund development of an infographics capability to promote transparency and accountability in order that the public can keep tabs on government operations. Infographics are a visual representation of information or data.
Speaking during the launch of the Evidence and Methods Project at Hive Colab in Kampala, Phillip Dimon, the Embassy spokesperson said as much as Uganda has put in place regulations and laws to create transparency and accountability especially in government agencies, there is still much that needs to be done to make access to information much better for citizens. This is so that they are able to develop trust in their government.
“Access to information is key in financing transparency and accountability. For citizens to demand for their rights and accountability for their taxes, they must be empowered with information. Access to information and other services especially in government agencies still leaves a lot of improvement,” he said.
Evidence And Methods Lab is a Ugandan civic technology initiative working in the areas of access to information, accountability and innovation that is supported by the American Embassy, but no details of the money involved were revealed.
Michael Kategaya, the Project team leader, said there is considerable information that the government puts out every year for public consumption, but a big chunk of it is not accessed because it is not packaged well for the ordinary user.
He said, “Many people both educated and uneducated do not understand the information that the government agencies put in their annual publications and on their websites, because it is not simplified and packaged in a way that people can easily understand.”
He said the Evidence and Methods Lab aims at simplifying information so that Ugandans can be able to demand for accountability. “We want to be able to use social media and other means of communication that are easily reached by the common person to disseminate this simplified information. We are using info-graphics to simplify data, especially government data like the budget, and Uganda bureau of statistics,” Kategaya said.
“Government cannot do everything. As much as we would like to reach everybody, we cannot because we do not have the capacity. At the moment, we are only using our websites and the yearly magazine publications to publish information. However, the civil society can come in and take on the role of dissemination of information by simplifying it for the public and with time, we will take their example,”Margaret Kakande, the Head of Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said.