Photo: Linda Essner
IT as a tool to follow up on the Millennium Goals in Kenya
Kenya's new Constitution, that was adopted after a referendum in 2010, focuses on social and economic rights. Issues regarding how public funds are used are also considered important in the new Constitution. This corresponds well with the prioritisations in the UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign that, with only three years till 2015, aims to ensure that the Goals maintain their central position on the country's political agenda.
In close collaboration with Sodnet – Social Development Network, a Kenyan NGO that works to mobilise and channelise social commitment – the UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign has therefore produced a technical platform – HUDUMA (service in Swahili) – that can receive and register problems and deficient service that the citizens report via their mobile phones. Reports are published on the website highlights and the ultimate goal is to strengthen the interaction between the State and its citizens– this is in order to contribute to increased participation, democracy and accountability.
Most complaints relate to health and education as well as water and sanitation – central areas for the Millennium Goals. The complaints are then followed up and the responsible politicians, organisations and authorities can be held accountable.
Approximately half of the slightly more than 40 million inhabitants are aged between 15 and 65 and there are more than 25 million mobile phone contracts in the country. That means that more or less every adult has their own mobile phone.
Before the start of the pilot project, a survey was conducted where 8,000 households responded to questions about how they experienced the public services. The survey showed that approximately 50 per cent were well aware of their social and economic rights but that they had no idea where to turn to if their rights were not observed.
HUDUMA is run by the UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign in collaboration with Sodnet and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) etc. and with support from Sida.
Sida contributes with SEK 4m 2011–2014.
- So far, HUDUMA has received hundreds of reports. For example, HUDUMA has led to the work with supplying Kibera's schools with functioning toilets being resumed after a longer interruption.
- Many local organisations feel that they now have a new channel for their advocacy activities. On example is KETAM, Kenya Treatment Access Movement, who works for the right to care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. Through HUDUMA, they managed to stop a ban against cheaper anti-retroviral drugs and ultimately make sure that more people receive the medicine they need.
- About 80 physicians have received information and training in using the platform, which has led to the situation in hospitals being acknowledged, both in terms of lack of medicine and also other resources.
- The UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign is now planning to start similar projects in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Rwanda.