With citizens giving their feedback on new government policies and guidelines through various modes including social media, many still ask whether this feedback is collected and reviewed by the concerned public officials.
In Uganda, debates and discussions are ongoing on how the country has handled the unexpected crisis of COVID-19 and how we should react to future crises like these, in an accountable and collaborative way.
Recently, Sema Uganda,a local civil organisation, interviewed 22 civic leaders within Ugandan government institutions and non-government organisations to share their views on how the country should bridge the gap between citizens and government for better service delivery.
The report from Sema Uganda indicated that the government is making progress towards the use of data, however, a lot remains to be done.
“From the onset of the partial lockdown as a result of COVID-19, a significant proportion of the populace resorted to mobile phone calls, SMS, online platforms and radio stations to share their experiences of how various policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures were being implemented,”the report indicated.
The report showed there have been incidents of government using this citizen feedback to respond and address the concerns raised.
“Online platforms and applications will continue to play a significant role in way citizens engage and provide feedback to the government and vice versa,”the reported showed.
In view of this trend therefore the report recommended that government should urgently undertake a national assessment to scientifically establish the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and, based on the results, review the response plan for quicker and better-focused interventions.
The report also recommended that government takes advantage of the existing big data, analyses it for trends and association of citizens and uses it to guide decision making.
“The government should put in place a mechanism and or platform for data analysis experts to share, review and ensure that correctly interpreted data is used as well as drafting new or reviewing existing policies, so that the final policies are grounded and scientifically inform,”the report showed.
The report calls for the explanation to citizens showing them that their feedback is very important in decision making.
“To have meaningful feedback, feedback tools have to be implemented for the citizens to give their views,”the report indicated.
Aside from the government’s efforts to make use of citizen feedback, many private sector organisation have collected data on different aspects of the Covid-19 situation in Uganda and how it has affected citizens.
“We encourage these actors to open the data in accessible formats or machine readable formats that allows for further analysis.This will grow the spirit of open data to allow increased use of data among the various stakeholders,”the report showed.