It is thought that one has to be in a position of power to bring about positive change. Citizens of Mkole village in Rukwa region attest differently – after witnessing the change that midwife Esther Elidius, advocated for and effected in their community.
Esther is a member of Public Expenditure and Tracking Survey (PETS) committee who received PETS training through Life Change Rukwa Development Organization (LCRDO). LCRDO, a local development organization, was granted funds by Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) to conduct the project in 3 wards and 9 villages in Nkasi district, Rukwa. The training sessions empowered attending trainees, and eventually the public at large to take steps that facilitated significant progress in the healthcare sector.
Like many others in the Rukwa region, the healthcare facility where Esther works did not have access to electricity. Her joy of bringing new life had been coupled with dread – as she ended up seeing more lives end than thrive in her hands.
The trainees built the committee members ability to track public funds – from allocation to final user. They also were educated on their rights as citizens, their role in the administration of these public funds, transparency and accountability. With the knowledge, Esther and the rest of the committee now had tools to effect actual change. They formed a committee that analysed the allocation and use of public funds work towards ensuring transparent, accountable and effective public financial management in the health sector.
The committee members then educated other citizens from their respective villages on their rights and how they can join them in accelerating change. Through their persistence, they were able to follow through on funds allocated in public healthcare centers where public projects – including the installation of electricity – and see to their completion. Information on yearly budgets and medication available at the health centers was made public – a move that promoted the transparency of public resources at the centers.
“Since the installation of electricity, I have brought 3 people to give birth at the center, I have seen how much easier and safer the procedure has become. I have gained so much valuable information on my civil rights and can confidently pursue them”.
Esther further testifies on the impact the program has had on her, elaborating:
“I now realize that I need to be responsible for the resources and challenges that my community faces. We can work together and ensure that resources are put into appropriate use and our society improves.”
This PETS project bridged a rift between citizens and their leaders. Local government leaders were also educated on the project and have since shown good cooperation with citizens. This initiative has given people like Esther the opportunity to become change makers and life savers.