INFONET: Citizen's engagement in enforcing accountability for the improvement of service delivery in Kenya
Social Development Network
The Social Development Network’s main aim is to promote and facilitate effective strategic alliances among members and interested groups within Kenya. As a network, SODNET’s mandate is anchored on the need to restore the institutional integrity and civic sovereignty of the social sector. INFONET, a SODNET programme, originated in 2007, based on the need to create convergences on actions that are critical to the development of the human person. This attached presentation provides an outline of INFONET and its use of various ICT tools to promote accountability of service delivery.
INFONET and its use of online budget tool / mobile tools
The goal of harnessing these tools is to improve community engagement in local development planning and public resource management. INFONET is thus an ICT enhanced collaborative platform for budget tracking, knowledge sharing, especially of the use of constituency development funds at the local level in Kenya. The tool provides communities (especially rural and urban poor) with the possibility of monitoring the performance of central government, parliamentarians and local authorities with respect to budget expenditure, disbursements and service delivery to their local community. In turn, it offers feedback by the citizens to government, parliamentarians and local authorities of their performance. Citizens can also give feedback, via sms, to their local authorities.
INFONET, as a budget tracking tool, is important because it:
- Enables citizens to search different projects funds
- Provides constituency demographic information e.g. population, schools, hospitals etc
- Provides date on the type of funds and allocations summaries
- Reports problems to ward councillor and the constituency MP about overall project implementation
- Allows individuals and groups to report anomalies or incidences of corruption, while also uploading photos, text, videos etc.
Currently, the project allows for the monitoring of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF), Youth Enterprise & Development Fund and Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).
- Citizens can use it for: Contribution on projects, anonymous reporting on corruption, gain information on process towards budget making
- Civil society can use it for: Report on corruption, solidarity, networking and institutional strengthening
- Leaders/Fund Councilors can use it for: Possibility of feedback, dialogue with citizens and lobby groups.
- Researchers can use it for: Analysis on devolution of funds, knowledge and memory on best practices from projects.
- Development partners/investors can use it for: Pertinent information on viable projects;
FrontlineSMS is a laptop or PC-based software application used for sending and receiving group SMS messages. It does not require an internet connection and works with any GSM network. FrontlineSMS requires a computer and a mobile phone or GSM modem. The software is free. Costs incurred are mobile carrier SMS cost. Installing FrontlineSMS is very quick: on Windows machines the process is fully automated and should complete in approximately two minutes. FrontlineSMS allows NGOs to run awareness raising campaigns, competitions or carry out text-based surveys, or to simply keep in touch with fieldworkers and supporters.
Observations based on the experience so far of INFONET
- Ideological choices: Modernize or Westernize?
- Leverage on existing practices / technology and up-scaling or create from scratch;
- Further political choice vs political will. If its not illegal, it should be done!
- Emphasis on the common person: encourage empowerment of citizen’s to act on their own & improve the universal quality of the human condition.
- Address emerging contradictions on ICTs and its impact on livelihoods
- Ownership, access and control of technology and information e.g. Agricultural knowledge (seeds, seed-banking, farm methods);
- One must also consider the following: Affordability, relevance, usability, availability leading to sustainability.
All are important in the choice of using ICTs in development. If its not relevant and affordable users will not engage it.
* More details on INFONET can be obtained from the authors: