The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) supported Kijogoo Group for Community Development to conduct a project on Public Expenditure Tracking System/Survey in Chikuti village, which is in Msogezi ward in Mahenge, Ulanga district about 230 kilometers from Morogoro Township in the Morogoro region. The project aimed at promoting and increasing accountability and transparency on the use of public resources. Amongst other activities, the project intended to build the capacity of communities and local leaders to effectively use village meetings to follow up on how public resources are used.
How the project brought Openness
The beneficiaries for this project included the local leadership and the community members of Chikuti Village. The project built the capacity of local leaders and communities at large on the importance of openness to improve transparency and accountability, key hallmarks for good governance.
Local leaders who benefitted from the project are Mr. Yusuph Mazengo, village Executive Officer and Mr. Gibson Usolo, Village Chairman. Commenting on the changes seen since the project was started Mr. Gibson said;
‘‘Under this project, Kijogoo educated us on the importance of openness in revenue and expenditure in our village and that such information has to be shared in the village meetings. The challenge we had initially was low attendance of villagers in these meetings. Kijogoo helped us with ways to effectively mobilize people and now the numbers of villagers attending the meetings is encouraging. The attendance increased from 80-100 people up to around 200-300 people out of the 700 people in our village. There is improved transparency in the village as expenditure and income are presented and approved by the people during village meetings for implementation. Also, there are now specified areas where this information is posted for public accessibility and scrutiny by the citizens in the village.
Restoring village meetings relevance
Mr. Yusuph also concurred with Mr. Gibson that the intervention by Kijogoo was timely as the project has enhanced the voice of the people in management of public resources. He added; ‘‘The village meeting is where important decisions are made therefore, we decided to impose fines of TZS 2,000 for those who don’t attend the village meetings without any excuse, this is to improve attendance to attain the required quorum. As a result, more people are now coming to the meetings and share their thoughts on various issues for the development of our community.’’
The project has helped to reinvigorate the village meeting structure as relevant platform for openness and transparency which is crucial for community engagement. It has become now possible for citizens to take substantive collective actions and decisions to fast-track local development with improved attendance. For example, during a village held meeting on December 12, 2018 about 235 people attended and on December 29, 2019 about 246 people attended. Certainly, this is evidence of massive improvement compared to just 97 people that attended the meeting back on August 17, 2018
Another example is during the meeting on May 2, 2019, where 236 people attended, revenue amounting to TZS 8,030,461/- was presented and expenditure of TZS 1,989,000/- was approved.
Further, improved openness has helped people to engage and enabled the construction of the village office for local leaders where people contributed labor and materials to save about TSH TZS 10 Million. The building is stellar example of what openness and a collaborative effort between leaders and citizens efforts can do to improve public service delivery.
FCS supports projects to improve equitable services at the local level across the country. This project is one such transformative effort to ensure active citizenry and more responsive local leaders.