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Uganda Parliament Outreach: Let Your Voice Be Heard

By Margaret Sevume


On August 15th 2012, The Parliament of Uganda launched an interactive system dubbed U-Speak in which constituents directly engage their Members of Parliament. Another system mentioned later in this article is called Ureport and is specifically for the youth. U-Speak has platforms for short message service (SMS), voice messages and calls managed by the service provider in a call centre. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga who launched the system says it would help the MPs not only serve their constituents better, but also improve accountability to voters.

Using this system, constituents can communicate directly with their MPs through SMS or by leaving a voice mail on a dedicated line 6020 at 110 Uganda Shillings. Once sent, the messages are automatically entered into a web based case management system.

U-speak would sort the most reported issues by topic, date and location and the type of message for example requests for information, action and opinion.

A research team from US Based Columbia University is evaluating the system and will provide results of the impact of the system on the attitude of voters and the MPs.
The National Democratic Institute with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy is coordinating a number of organizations to aid the implementation of the U-speak project.
http://www.nbs.ug/2012/08/15/speaker-kadaga-u-speak-to-enhance-parliament-outreach


Ureport
Is a similar project targeting the youth. UNICEF launched  Ureport in May 2011 which is a free SMS-based system that allows young Ugandans to speak out on what's happening in communities across the country. Some examples are; Ureport results and information to update and increase citizen's awareness, participate in nationwide campaigns to help improve the country  and to share what's happening around Uganda with other Ureporters.

http://ureport.ug/about_ureport/

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