By witnessradio.org Team
As the world is getting troubled by the rising population and youth unemployment especially in Africa, Hewlett Foundation visits a small sub-county in Uganda to learn about village Budget Club model that has won the political will from leaders at different levels to achieve localized and citizen-centered family planning budgets. The model promotes citizen empowerment and participation in decision making process.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, commonly known as the Hewlett Foundation, is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas, established by Hewlett-Packard cofounder William Redington Hewlett and his wife Flora Lamson Hewlett in 1966.
According to the United Nations Population Division, in the past year the population of the African continent grew by 30 million. By the year 2050, population growth is expected to exceed 42 million people per year and total population will be close to billion. While Uganda alone has a population growth of 3.3% per annum.
Before traveling to Maanyi sub county, Hewlett Foundation Board interfaced with Mityana district leadership partners on Family planning and sexual reproductive health to hear experiences and learn best practices. Mr. Larry Kramer, the president of the Hewlett Foundation board noted that they are very excited to be in Uganda and Mityana in particular to get experiences and lean about how Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) empowers communities to hold leaders accountable and influence budgets for family planning and sexual reproductive health government level and they are looking forward to having a great experience and learn from them.
FOWODE’s Mityana Field Officer Sarah Nakintu, said the model strengthens natives’ voice in budget planning processes, advocating and monitoring how family planning funds have been utilized.
While interfacing with Hewlett Foundation Board, Village Budget Clubs (VBC) members shared their experiences saying, their capacities in gender budget monitoring and service delivery tracking were enhanced and they have the ability to generate information and identify gender issues in the monitored institutions.
“I had never thought that an ordinary citizen like me can have such power to influence decisions made within my district and the sub county. Before FOWODE’s interventions I was so inferior and being a woman I always shunned away from participating in community meetings and decision making spaces. After FOWODE building my capacity in monitoring and service delivery tracking, I realized that as a responsible citizen I should monitor the health facility in my area to engage leaders to ensure that quality services are provided to us especially Sexual reproductive Health and Family planning services. That is why as VBC’s we demanded for an ambulance for Maanyi HC III to transfer emergency cases especially the delivering or expectant mothers to Mityana Main Hospital which was provided hence improving on service delivery at this facility” Najjuuko Rose a VBC member informed the board members.
“As a man I did not care how many times my wife goes to the labour ward as long as she gave me babies and as a Muganda man having many children is prestigious in our culture. But after very many sensitizations on the importance of Family Planning I now understood that planning a family starts with the man since even the burden of looking after this family is shouldered by the man. So I sat with my wife and agreed on how many children we would like to have in the next coming years. I took on the initiative of reaching out to my fellow men with the message of planning their families and to support their wives access these services.” Sempeebwa Yusuf a VBC member shared.
Witnessradio.org can confirm that there is enhanced knowledge and skills of the VBCs to generate information and collect data on service delivery and gender issues in both schools and health facilities for evidence based advocacy and such information has been used for influencing planning and budgeting processes at both district and sub county levels.
Notably, Maanyi sub county VBC’s have influenced Budget allocations towards financing for family planning. For example a Family planning budget line was created at Maanyi Sub county budgeted at 200, 000/= for FY 2016/2017 which is being used for sensitization to create demand for Family Planning services.
Its not clear whether Hewlett Foundation will incorporate VBC model in their pragrammes and have it replicated in other parts of the world especially in Africa.