Domestic ViolenceIn 2011, I wrote an article about women confronting  VAW using ICTs  that featured a story of how women in the olden days creatively used local platforms to combat violence against women. The 59-year-old woman told us that when she was growing up as a young girl, women used to look for a strategic location in the village to broadcast their messages. This location was usually an anthill. The woman would stand on top of the anthill and shout about her husband’s bad behaviours. She would say “my husband is bad, she beats me when I give meat to the children, he is a glutton, he abuses me all the time….”. This was to let everyone in the village hear about her husband’s abusive behaviours. This would prompt the villagers to gossip about him and local musicians would compose songs about him. This shame would cause him to eventually change his ways.

Today, technology especially social media has provided us with much more advanced platforms compared to an anthill where we can broad cast our message globally. Indeed, this is exactly what Prisca Baike did.

On January 19, 2018 at exactly 4:48 PM Prisca Baike , a journalist with a National Newspaper  posted  on her Facebook Wall: Human Rights Activist, Willington Ssekadde, Abuses, Traumatises and Denies me my Babies aged 3 and 2 years… read the full post . She ended with a call to everyone who cares to come to her rescue.To all the women, activists, authorities, lawyers, fellow parents, journalists, for how long shall I and other women suffer in silence… Please I beg of you, kindly help me share this message and tag whoever can help me access justice for my little ones. I know there is a kind lawyer out there who can help me access justice. Please help me rescue my children. I am totally stuck… #RescueShanelleAndMalcolm

In just few hours, her post was shared over 3000 times and sympathetic comments started flowing. Many applauded her boldness to break the silence since many women are suffering in silence and enduring violence in all its forms, others wondered that if a journalist like her can be denied her children and subjected to such, one can only imagine the situation of many young women in our communities.

Similarly, the media picked up her  story and  shared widely. See NBS TV: A Tale of Domestic Violence; Pearl Times: A Mother’s Tears: Observer Reporter Prisca Baike, Husband Fight Over Children.  In a short time, we received news that that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had intervened, and Prisca was given access to her children.

This story clearly demonstrates the power of Information and Communication Technology and how it can be enhanced to bring about positive change. However, it should be noted that ICT is a double-edged sword.

Whereas such technologies have created new ways to connect and share experiences,  these digital spaces have also provided platforms for the replication and continuation of the perpetration of violence against women-Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls. This calls for more awareness and training on digital security, online rights to ensure safe and meaningful utilisation of ICT




Patriarchy1Patriarchy is a social and ideological construct which considers men (who are the patriarchs) as superior to women. It considers males as the primary authority figures and central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where men  hold authority over women and children. Patriarchy refers to the male domination both in public and private spheres.

Patriarchy is based on a system of power relations which are hierarchical and unequal where  men control women’s production, reproduction and sexuality. It imposes masculinity and femininity character stereotypes in society which strengthen the iniquitous power relations between men and women

The control is maintained by excluding women from access to necessary economically productive resources and limiting women’s sexuality. Men exercise their control in receiving personal service from women in not having to do house work or take care of children, in having access to women’s bodies for sex, in feeling powerful and being powerful.

Patriarchy within a particular society  also differs in terms of cultural, religious and regional variations. Similarly subordination of women  differs  from  society to society.

While subordination of women may differ in terms of its nature, certain characteristics such as control  over women’s sexuality and her reproductive power cuts across class, race+, ethnicity, religions and regions and is common to all patriarchies. This control has developed  historically and is institutionalized and legitimized by several ideologies,  social practices and institutions such as family, religion, caste, education, media, law, state and society, which are discussed in the later sections.

Patriarchal societies propagate the ideology of motherhood which restrict women’s mobility and burdens them with the responsibilities to nurture and rear children. The biological factor to bear children is linked to the social position of women’s responsibilities of motherhood: nurturing, educating and raising children by devoting themselves to family.

Patriarchal ideas blur the distinction between  sex and gender and assume that all socio-economic and political distinctions between men and women are rooted in biology or anatomy .

Origin of patriarchy

The origins of patriarchy can be traced through different stages of civilisation and, several views have been expressed regarding the origins of patriarchy and its universality. Its roots have been traced in history, religion and in nature. For some, patriarchy as a system has a beginning in history, is man made and thus can be ended by historical processes in the future. For others, patriarchy is a natural phenomenon, i.e., it is based on biological differentiation of human beings into male and female categories. It is understood that, patriarchy is universal, God‑given, natural and cannot be questioned. Therefore to change patriarchy would amount to changing nature. Still others, have not accepted the above explanations and have talked about the existence of a stage in society prior to patriarchy – that of a matriarchal or matrilineal society, where have had a dominant status. Evidence for such a society is quoted till today, through religious myths and symbols over different periods in history, citing examples of matrilineal heritage in some parts of India, especially Kerala.

Some people believe men are borne to dominate and women subordinates. They believe that this hierarchy has always exited and will continue, and like other rules of nature this one too cannot be changed. There are others who challenge these beliefs and say patriarchy is not natural it is manmade and therefore it can be changed. It has not always existed, it had a beginning and therefore it can have an end.

There are theories put forward by feminists regarding the origin of patriarchy and these include:

The traditionalist view of Patriarchy

Traditionalists everywhere accept patriarchy as biologically determined. According to Gerder lerner, traditionalists whether working with thin a religious or scientific framework, have regarded women’s subordination as universal, God given or natural hence immutable, what has survived survived because it was the best it follows that it should stay that way. In religious terms women are subordinate to men because they were assigned different roles and tasks therefore because their biological functions are distinct they must ‘naturally’ have different social roles and tasks. And because these differences are natural , no one can be blamed for sexual inequality or male dominance. According to the traditionalists because women produce children, their chief goal in life is to become mothers, and their task child bearing and child rearing.

Explanations which consider men biologically superior and the main providers of families have however been disproved on the basis of research done on hunting and gathering societies. In these societies big hunt provided food for only some of the time, the main and regular food supply came through the gathering activities of women and children. In hunter- gather communities there is evidence of existence of tremendous complementarity between men and women. In south Asia even today we find that in tribal societies women command a great deal of respect and the differences in the status of men and women are much less disadvantageous to women.

Aristotle theory

Aristotle propounded similar theories and called males active and females passive. For him female was “mutilated male” someone who does not have a soul. In his view the biological inferiority of women makes her inferior also in her capacities, her ability to reason and therefore her ability to make decisions. Because man is superior and woman inferior he is born to rule and for her to be ruled.

Sigmund Feud’s anatomy is destiny

Sigmund Feud stated that for women “anatomy is destiny”. Freud’s normal human was male, the female by his dentition, a deviant human being lacking a penis, whose entire psychological supposedly centered around the struggle to compensate for this deficiency. Popularised Freudian doctrine then became the prescriptive for educators and social workers.

Frederick Engel’s explanation

Frederick Engels in 1884 in his book, origins of the family, private property and the state, he believed that women’s subordination began with the development of private property, when according to him, the world historical defeat of the female sex took. He says both the division of classes and the subordination of women developed historically. There was a time when there were no class- gender differences. He speaks of three phases of society-savagery, barbarism and civilization.

In savagery human beings lived like animals gathered food and hunted. Ancestry was through the mother, there was no marriage and notion of private property.

Gathering and hunting continued in the phase of barbarism and gradually. Agriculture and animal husbandry were developed. Men started moving further in  the field to hunt, while women stayed home  both to mind the children and look after the homestead. Asexual division of labour gradually developed, but women had power, and also control over the gens (clases or communities with a common origin). Within the gens there were no classes but conflicts between one Gen and another.

When men began domesticating animals, they understood the principle of impregnation. They developed weapons for bigger hunt, which were also used in intergroup conflicts. Slavery developed. Gens started acquiring animals and slaves, especially female slaves. This led to more division among the sexes. Men acquired power over others and started accumulating wealth in the form of animals and slaves. All this led to the formation of private property. Men wanted to retain power and property and pass it on their own children. To ensure this inheritance, the mother-right was overthrown. In order to establish the right of the father, women had to be domesticated and their sexuality confined, regulated and controlled.

Modern civilization according to Engels was based on restricting women  to the sphere of  the home in order to produce heirs to inherit property. This he said was the beginning of the sexual double standard in marriage. According to him, with development of the state the monogamous family changed into the patriarchal family in which the wife’s household labour became a private service the wife became a head servant excluded from all participation in social production.

Never the less Engel’s explanation of the beginning of patriarchy has been disputed by radical feminists. According to them, patriarchy preceded private property. They believe that the original and basic contradiction is between the sexes and not between economic classes. According to their analysis all women are a class therefore the gender differences can be explained in terms of biological or psychological differences between men and women. Other radical feminists say there two systems of social classes the economic class system which is based on relations of production and the second class which is the sex class system which is based on relations of reproduction. It is the second system that is responsible for the subordination of women. According to them, the concept of patriarchy refers to the rule of women by men based upon men’s ownership and control of women’s reproductive capacities. Because of this, women have become physically and psychologically dependent on men.

While we can endlessly debate on the differing perceptions about the origins of patriarchy, it is more significant to understand the modes of patriarchal control and its institutional manifestations as it has impacted upon processes of women’s subordination in society.

Patriarchal Relations in A family ( Private Spaces)

The first lessons of patriarchy are learnt in the family where the head of the family is a man/ father. Man is considered the head of the family and controls women’s sexuality, labour or production, reproduction and mobility. In a patriarchal family the birth of male child is preferred to that of a female.

The traditional notion of ‘public-private divide’ which located politics in the public sphere and family and personal relationships in private sphere as non-political, believed that sexual inequality is natural and not political. While the political sphere was preserved for men the private sphere was reserved for women as housewives and mothers who were excluded from politics. Scholars have acknowledged that patriarchy is  man-made and has developed historically by the socio-economic

Family is therefore important for socializing the next generation in patriarchal values. The boys learn to be dominating and aggressive and girls learn to be caring, loving and submissive. These stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are not only social constructs but also have been internalized by both men and women. While the pressure to earn and look after the family is more on the man, the women are supposed to do the menial jobs and take care of their children and even other members of the family. It is because of these gender stereotypes that women are at a disadvantage and are vulnerable to violence and other kinds of discriminations and injustices. Systemic deprivation and violence against women: rape, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, female foeticide, infanticide, witchkilling, sati, dowry deaths, wife-beating, high level of female illiteracy, malnutrition, undernourishment and continued sense of insecurity keeps women bound to home, economically exploited, socially suppressed and politically passive.

In  many of the African families, from a tender age, the socialization process differentiates the girl child from the boy child.  E.g  among the Shona of South Africa, males are socialized to view themselves as breadwinners and heads of households whilst females are taught to be obedient and submissive housekeepers. The cause of such differentiation and discrimination is the fact that society views women as sexual beings and not as human beings (Charvet, 1982). McDowell and Pringle (1992) further state that, women are not only constantly defined in relation to men, but are defined as dependent and subordinate to them as well. As a result, women are socialized to acquire those qualities, which fit them into a relationship of dependence on men. These qualities include gentleness, passivity, submission and striving to please men always. In the Shona culture, once a girl reaches puberty all teachings are directed towards pleasing one’s future husband as well as being a gentle and obedient wife. Her sexuality is further defined for her, as she is taught how to use it for the benefit of the male race.

Son preference: Women who produce sons are treated better than those that give birth to daughters and preferential treatment is passed on to their children. Sons are breastfed longer than their sisters. Clinics offer amniocentesis for sex and abortion of unwanted female fetuses. In the family, the male child is preferred to the female child. In fact, males rule females by right of birth and even if the male child is not the first born in a family, he is automatically considered the head of the household who should protect and look after his sisters. The female child is further discriminated upon due to the fact that eventually she marries out and joins another family whilst the male child ensures the survival of the family name through bringing additional members into the family (Human Rights Monitor, 2001). This attitude has seen some parents preferring to educate boys to girls, because of girls’ capacity to bear children

Sexuality: They say a child’s identity is fundamentality delivered from the father. Curiously enough the inherent contradiction between the belief that men determine the nature of the child and blame attached to women who fail to bear sons is not appreciated.

Sexuality is in the desire to give and receive words, looks, laughs, caresses, attention and understanding so that meeting between bodies will be human. However we have been made to believe that there is female and male sexuality. Male sexuality is being aggressive, uncontrollable, impulse, strong and active versus female sexuality which is passive, patient, obedient, weak, dependant on men

According to the Laws of Manu in Asia, men are considered as gods and are constantly worshiped which symbolized that man is a lord, master, owner, or provider and women were the subordinates. It legitimized that a woman should never be made independent, as a daughter she should be under the surveillance of her father, as a wife of her husband and as a widow of her son.

Men control womens productivity  within the household  where women  provide all kinds of free services to their children, husbands and other members of the household throughout their lives. Men also control women’s labour by forcing their women to sell their labour or they may prevent them from working, they may appropriate what women earn, they may selectively allow them to work intermittently hence women are excluded from better jobs, sell their labour at a very low wages or work within the home.

Patriarchal relations in Cultural and State Structures

Patriarchal norms and beliefs are an important constituent of many African cultures and they often serve to mute the voices of  women who are suffering from discrimination, violence and exploitation
Patriarchy manifests through the overwhelming nature of the state and its political processes that provide a conducive environment to men as political actors. Public leadership is patriarchal because it favors males to the extent that women have to constantly justify their presence and their issues.  Patriarchy plays out in the existing cultural institutions that nurture women and men for different spaces but also give them different social capital to enable them function in these spaces.

A research conducted by Isis-WICCE on Women Political leadership in Uganda revealed that  Pader and Agago districts, the clan structure and the family have the powers to allow or disallow women’s political participation. In  Agago forexample where the research was conducted,  its only men who are accepted  in matters of inter-clan conflict resolution, reconciliation, control of resources such as land and other household properties, and other powers of decision making. Men also make up the clan and area-chief committees as chairpersons, vice chairpersons, treasurer, secretary, mobilization and other portfolios.  In all these leadership structures, women are not culturally expected. As these cultural leadership positions act as a training ground for men to perfect their leadership, it leaves women with no exposure to that form of leadership. Women’s absence in all these traditional structures makes them ill-prepared for public space political deliberations.

Many cultures express leniency on male sexual behavior but are very proscriptive when it comes to female sexual behaviour (International centre for Human Rights, 1996). Males are free to experiment sexually at will before marriage whilst females have to preserve their virginity for marriage or risk tarnishing the image of the family since the Son in law will not pay ‘mombe yechimanda’. This is a cow offered to the in-laws as a token of appreciation for ensuring that his wife preserved her virginity. This custom holds much value in the shona culture and in some parts of the country, virginity tests are still carried out up to this very day.

Patriarchal relations in the  religious institutions

Patriarchal constructions of social practices are legitimized by religion and religious institution as most religious practices regard male authority as  superior and the laws and norms regarding family, marriage, divorce and inheritance are linked to patriarchal control over property biased against women.

The bible which most Christians believe in boldly states  that women should be submissive to men. With that in mind and those beliefs instilled in cultures, women don’t stand a chance to gain strength in their gender and it’s potential in our world. Christian tradition is hostile to the idea of women taking leadership positions. Islam law ranging from strictly closeted, isolated and voiceless, subject to public flogging and death because of adultery to where women have some freedom of association.

A person’s legal identity with regard to marriage, divorce and inheritance are determined by his or her religion, which laid down duties for men and women and their relationship. Most religions endorse  patriarchal values and all major religions have been interpreted and controlled by men of upper caste and class. The imposition of parda, restrictions on leaving the domestic space, separation between public and private are all gender specific and men are not subject to similar constraints. Thus the mobility of women is controlled. They have no right to decide whether they want to be mothers, when they want to be, the number of children they want to have, whether they can use contraception or terminate a pregnancy and so on and so forth


Patriarchal constructions of knowledge systems perpetuate patriarchal ideology and this is reflected in educational institutions both formal and informational. More subtle expressions of patriarchy was through symbolism giving messages of inferiority of women through legends highlighting the self-sacrificing, self-effacing pure image of women and through ritual practice which emphasized the dominant role of women as a faithful wife and devout mother (Desai and Krishnaraj, 2004: 299).

Note: This piece of work was written  as a class assignment for the Master Class Gender and Development, 2014

Image Source:Unityandstruggle.org



Donkey theftMy heart is filled with sadness as I read a story of Donkey thefts in Karamoja region.

My Donkeys used to help to fetch food and water for the family  said  Epelot’ Kimat, a 68 year old woman as tears roll down her face as she struggles  to come to terms with the loss of of her six donkeys. Her priceless helpers were stolen  a fortnight ago. (NewVision, August 29, 2017 pg.13)

I first saw this story on NTV News. Donkey thieves did not  spare a physically handicapped Steven Chebeti. One morning Chebeti woke up to the shock of his life when he found his Donkey missing  leaving him helpless and hopeless since his Donkey was his only means of transport and survival. Many families have been left helpless by ruthless and merciless Donkey thieves.

This loss has been felt heavily by women since the Donkeys were the source of labour for  domestic work of carrying heavy loads of harvests, fetching water, and firewood as well as a source of income. Now that they are no more, women and children have to shoulder this burden.This has implications on their social and physical well being and calls for serious interventions by our leaders. It means women will spend more time and energy  doing  domestic work, productivity will decrease as well as income. Consequently they will be left behind hence the slogan of Leaving No one Behind will not apply.

It is estimated that over 5000 Donkeys have been stolen in one district and it is  suspected that the stolen Donkeys are sold to Chinese business men who export the  hides.



civic techToday, Information and communication technology has transformed the way people live, conduct business, relate with one another and consume services. Almost all spheres of life have been and are shaped by technology ranging from political, economic, social and cultural aspects.  Technology has become everything and everything is technology.

This week, I attended a forum  on the role of civic tech in social accountability: a showcase of social and civic tech in Uganda. The meeting was hosted by CIPESA and Outbox and it aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness on how various tech tools can be adopted for social accountability, civic participation and service delivery.

Civic tech as defined by Colin Wood is technology that enables greater participation in government or otherwise assists government in delivering citizen services and strengthening ties with the public. Indeed, a number of technology tools exist to support social accountability and civic participation in Uganda. These range from tools to support CSOs in data collection, tracking of public expenditure, service delivery, citizen journalism, environmental monitoring to mention but a few.

During the forum, several tools were showcased. The first tool that was  presented is M-Omulimisa an application that was formerly developed to link farmers and extension workers. The application has now been transformed to monitor service delivery in Eastern and Northern Uganda. Launched in July 2016, the platform enables users to report service delivery gaps to local authorities by sending a message to the short code 8228 with the sender’s location.

The second application showcased was  the Parliament Watch that  monitors and analyses proceedings of the Parliament of Uganda.  Parliament Watch  uses  social media such as Periscope, Facebooklive to hold digital dialogues and engage  Members of Parliament on pressing issues. They also use other conventional methods like community  dialogues to link  members of parliament  with their constituencies.

Other tools that were presented include User.Ug an electronic system for monitoring construction works in Kampala City, Yogera, a citizens engagement platform that connects citizens to their government and increase government responsiveness to raised issues in communities.

Although these platforms exist, their utility leaves a lot to be desired and this can be attributed to several factors including lack of awareness, limited and expensive internet, illiteracy  access among others. Additionally, most of these tools have not been translated into local languages and this means that they can  only be used by people who can read and write English.

Since this forum was the first event in Uganda, we hope that it will be a springboard for further discussion and engagements on how  civic tools can be adopted and fully utilised to promote social accountability, civic engagement and improve the much need service delivery in Uganda.  Now that the government has committed 9 Billion Uganda Shillings    in the 2017/18 financial year, we hope it  will go a long way to support these initiatives.


RTIThe right to information (RTI) is essential for the functioning of any democracy and is a prerequisite for transparency, accountability, gender equality and citizens’ participation in governance processes. However, Uganda faces numerous challenges to realising the right to access information despite having an access to information law. In the course of 2016, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) made various interventions to advance RTI, including holding training events and round table discussions for civil society, the media and government officials.

Uganda’s 2005 right to information law remains little known and largely unimplemented. Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) hardly release information voluntarily and tend to be unresponsive to information requests from citizens, due to a culture of secrecy and government bureaucracy that conflict with the law. Conversely, few citizens demand for information as a result of low awareness of their rights and the belief that public officials routinely ignore citizens’ information requests.

At a December 15, 2016 dialogue involving public officials, including information officers from various MDAs, journalists and civil society representatives, it emerged that the government and citizens have not prioritised RTI. “The role of information has been undervalued and sometimes it gets a zero release in [MDA] budgets,” said a public official. Another noted that 11 years after the law was enacted, no MDA has submitted an annual report to parliament on its information disclosure record, including requests received from citizens, as required by the law.

Other challenges prominently cited included under-staffing in MDAs, employing information officers that are unqualified and who often lack mandate to speak on behalf of the public entity, and conflicting laws that make implementing the RTI law difficult.

Journalists shared their experiences of regularly being denied information, often with no reason provided. One journalist noted that informal approaches are the primary means of attaining public information held by the state.

At an earlier training for journalists, which was held on November 23, challenges of public information officers who are either not authorised to release information, or who refer to secrecy oaths not to release information, were prominently cited.

Further, journalists pointed out the cost of accessing information as a hindrance for ordinary citizens. “If it is my right to access information then why am I paying for it?” asked Regina Nassanga of Mama FM. According to the law, a fee of UGX 20 000 (Just over US$ 5) is required when making a formal request at an MDA office.

Despite these obstacles, there are some indications that things could get better. Each government department is now required to have an information officer, and a few public bodies are beginning to implement the government’s 2013 Communications Strategy, although they have been unable to make any significant increase to budget allocations for the information function.

Civil society representatives pointed out additional concerns including the lack of deliberate action to promote RTI particularity for women and people with disabilities. Moreen Nambalirwa from the National Union of Women with Disabilities noted that when information is disseminated to the public via television and radios, people with visual and hearing impairments miss out. She also stated that despite the directive from the Uganda Communications Commission that all TV stations should have a sign language interpretation during some news broadcasts, none of the more than 10 local TV stations have done so, further contributing to the exclusion and limited participation by PWDs in governance processes.

The convenings were organised by CIPESA and provided a space for civil society, public officials and journalists to share their experiences, learn from one another, and suggest possible ways to improve access to information.

This article was originally published on CIPESA Website

In 2014, I conducted a survey that attracted a total of 112 respondents’ majority of whom were social media enthusiasts and young people working in civil society organisations. 10 depth interviews were also conducted with key informants and these were the Secretary General of the ICT Association in Uganda; Executive Director of the Un Wanted Witness; the Coordinator of the Uganda Speaks (a network for digital users telling stories, presenting alternative narratives and supporting causes that advance social justice and human development in Uganda); Social Media Specialists from four mainstream  Media Houses and an officer from the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U)

The survey findings indicated  that 56% of respondents agreed that time  spent on Facebook rewards economically as seen from the statements below:

‘I have got business opportunities from Facebook, one day I was asked to travel to Egypt to facilitate a session on online engagements’

‘I learnt how to make money through the ideas of selling cookies from Facebook’

‘I have used Facebook to advertise my business and it has helped me to get many clients’

‘I have struck business deals on Facebook’

Similarly an interview with a key respondent, the Secretary General of ICT Association in Uganda confirmed that Facebook has opened up new economic pathways for the youth. He revealed to  me that  he manages over ten (10) Facebook business pages where he runs targeted adverts for his clients.  He further mentioned that there are many social media agencies coming up and their job is to set up and manage marketing campaigns for different companies on social media. A case in point is Blue Flamingo, a social media marketing company that runs social media marketing for companies and institutions such as Centenary Bank, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Uganda, Bell Lager, and Airtel Uganda among others.

In addition, several marketing agencies and companies are now setting up digital departments ideally to tap into the opportunities presented by Social Networking Sites especially Facebook because there is a guarantee that information will be seen by many people.

This trend of social media adverting was also observed by the researcher who consistently observed several   Facebook posts labelled as ‘sponsored’. This clearly shows that there are returns from advertising on Facebook because of the huge numbers of Ugandans who use Facebook on a daily basis.

The survey further found out that there are several successful Facebook fundraising initiatives for social good causes which have had far reaching impact on communities and some of them include:

Forty Day over Forty Smiles; This Facebook initiative originally started during Lent Period in 2012 to collect clothes, shoes, toys and other necessities for two orphanages in Kampala Natete and Kyebando. Through Facebook several items were collected and they included clothes (lots of these), shoes, bags, blankets, bed sheets,  toys, soap, sanitary towels, toilet paper, scholastic materials  and about  One million six hundred Uganda shillings which were taken to the orphanages on Good Friday. Source: Daily Monitor

‘Ninety five percent of the contributions are from Facebook fans of the page 40 days over 40 smiles thanks to the noise I have been making about the project. Some are from family members and friends’ (Daily Monitor, 8th April, 2014.p.13). The initiative has since turned into a registered charity, youth led  organisation committed to helping vulnerable children and communities to access quality, all-round education support and entrepreneurial training aimed at self-sustainability.

Tweeps Help Bududa; In June 2012, disaster struck in Bududa, Eastern Uganda where two villages were buried after heavy rain triggered landslides. Many people were left homeless with no way in which to fend themselves while hundreds lost their lives. Using social media (Facebook and Twitter), Ugandans shared information about the devastating effects of the landslides and a fundraising drive was initiated on Facebook and Twitter. This initiative was spearheaded by four social media enthusiasts’ @jssozi, @maureenagena, @enamara and @Azronn. Meetings were started online and a campaign to support the landslide victims was launched. At the end of the campaign, over four million Uganda Shillings was raised alongside an assortment of other items which included clothes, beddings and shoes (Uganda Speaks, 2012).

Hoops 4 Grace4; A small group of youths mobilised amongst themsleves on Facebook and raised eight million shillings for building  a domitory for a school in Luwero (Kaheru, 2013).


Respondents were asked to mention the benefits they have got from the Facebook Groups and Pages they belong to and most of them reported that they socialise with old friends and get to know more about each other, they discover opportunities such as scholarships and connect with specific likeminded people, and they get advice, news ideas and helpful information on different issues such as health issues, entertainment culture and religion.

Facebook pages or groups were also reported to facilitate easy information sharing to a specific group of people. One of the key informants confirmed that there are links that are shared on Facebook daily that one would not have seen as a person.  This basically proves that Facebook groups and pages are very helpful.

Some respondents reported that they have used Facebook pages and groups to run campaigns for advocacy for social justice and human rights. Others reported that they have been strongly rooted in their faith and cultures through the inspirational information shared which have challenged them to help others.

Students also revealed that they use Facebook pages and groups to discuss class work shared by   lecturers and this helps to generate debate among students.

It was also reported that Facebook pages and groups have helped to relieve stress and facilitate fun and laughter since some pages and groups they subscribe to   are for comedians and entertainment.

‘On a stressful day you login and get some funny staff to lighten your day’

On the social networking, Facebook has enabled many people  to get in touch with so many lost friends and people they never knew they will ever meet again or get in touch.

I have reunited with most of my friends since I joined Facebook in 2009 and my interaction skills have also improved (Newvision, Jan 17, 2014, pg 23).

Some Like any other phenomenon, new opportunities tend to be associated with new risks and this is not different with Social networking Sites. The research identified several risk that are associated with Social networking sites such as con men and women who are targeting Social Networking Sites users and have robbed users of their hard earned money, many young people have been forced to engage in bad behaviours and practices such as homosexuality,  prostitution and drug trafficking while others have been trafficked and kidnapped through Facebook.

Other users have lost concentration in school because they are always chatting on Facebook and relationship and marriages have broken as well as invasion of privacy and theft of personal information. It was also observed that users often do not understand the implications of their actions on Social Networking Web Sites since most of them are not bothered to understand the implications of user policies that they accept while registering.

While some users are oblivious to the fact that privacy settings exist, others are willing to sacrifice privacy because the benefits they expect from public disclosure surpass the perceived costs.

All in all, it can be said that that the world wide web  has undergone fundamental changes with the emergence  of Social networking Sites which have given  power to ordinary  internet users  to create their own presence  at  relatively low cost. Social networking Sites have had positive contribution to the socio-economic empowerment of the  urban youth  as evidenced by social capital benefits such as connecting with old friends who have offered advice, fundraising for social good causes, creation of employment opportunities and providing a platform for advertising and marketing of goods and services by individuals, companies and institutions. That notwithstanding, there are a few challenges such as con men and women, invasion of privacy, exposure to harmful practices and habits among others.


ICT corruptionCorruption has remained rampant both in public and private institutions in the East African Region despite the efforts by government and civil society actors to curb it down. It continues to undermine economic development, perpetuates inequality among citizens and destroys the moral integrity and ethics of society.

 According to the Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index which ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived, ranked Burundi, Kenya and Uganda at number 159, 145 and 151 respectively out of 176 countries.

At the recently concluded East Africa Anti-Corruption Dialogue held in Kampala and organized by Transparency International Uganda under the theme: Reject and Report Corruption your responsibility, participants across region shared experiences, best practices and methods of intervention taken by both state and non-state actors.

There was a strong emphasis on harnessing the use of information and communication technology in the fight against corruption.  Several actors at the dialogue called for use of automated systems to reduce human interactions, Transparency International Country Chapters in  Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda shared best practices on use of online platforms including social media, mobile phones to track and report corruption incidents. In 2016, Transparency International, Rwanda received 7000 complaints from citizens and this information was used for follow up.

Likewise Transparency International Uganda uses a Toll Free line where citizens call in to report cases. Transparency International Kenya uses social media advocacy especially @KenyansOnTwitter to raise awareness and report corruption in the country.

These platforms also facilitate access to information to the citizens about public goods and service delivery. Access to information is essential for the functioning of democracy and is a prerequisite for transparency and accountability, as well as citizens’ participation in governance.