SEMA began its FEEDBACK MATTERS campaign in February 2022. The campaign saw the launch of the SEMA friendly face, Mr SEMA, who will move along with the SEMA team as we visit the different regions in Uganda, to create awareness and run the campaign. The FEEDBACK MATTERS CAMPAIGN is all about emphasizing the feedback culture in our citizens with the aim of improving service delivery at public service institutions.
When the team travelled to Jinja, the guests and most of the citizens that turned up heard the radio interview segment that was held the day before, our call was responded to in large numbers, with citizens from as far as Iganga attending the event; a response we very much appreciated. In attendance were Media journalists, Religious leaders, Citizens, City council leaders, Development forums, Local Council leaders among others. As the engagement progressed, we noticed so many untackled issues on the ground, in some of the presentations as we interacted with citizens and Institution leaders alike, painful and very heartfelt stories were shared that caused us to think there is a large information gap between the citizens and the service providers, in that some of these incidences could have been avoided had there only been enough and consistent communications on institution operations and how someone can get help. Many questions were left unanswered, and the citizens in Jinja were very open with their suggestions for SEMA, which included having an office of its own in Jinja where they could feel safe to report their issues and trust that they can get help from the respective public service Institutions.
Citizens in Jinja expressed their desire to get more involved in the assessment of the SEMA reports that are shared with Institutions on a monthly basis, such that they too can hold these institutions accountable for their actions and create the need to be accountable to each other, and in the end ensure efficient service delivery. The interactions with the citizens and some of their leaders created a seamless shift from a hesitation of expression and grievance on some pertinent service issues, to a more interactive space. The atmosphere of fear by the citizens for some of the institution leaders and what they stand for seemed to have almost demystified itself as the engagement went on. It felt like it should not end. We were very impressed by the composed and yet stern questioning, by the citizens of why some services are not delivered as expected.
The task at hand then remained, “How best can we mitigate this feedback gap?”. At this point we did not waste any time and posed the question to the guests and citizens, the discussion highlighted some ways that SEMA could involve the citizens more in the entire SEMA system. Currently, we have a running WhatsApp engagement group with the Jinja citizens, including some Institution leaders like the police, that will discuss anything from current activities in Jinja to sharing reports. Citizens have been brought one step closer to someone that can attend to an issue and at least get the required direction. It can be safe to say that if there is a communication gap, at least a citizen can use this platform to gain the relevant information and who would be best to address it.
The journey does not end in Jinja, this is just our first step. How can you keep involved in the Feedback Matters Campaign? We will be documenting the regional engagement journey of Mr SEMA and the SEMA team.
Follow us as we travel through each milestone of our Feedback Matters Campaign in our follow-up cities of Mbarara, Gulu and our Kampala regions, in our visual recap on all our social media platforms at @talktosema on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or visit our website here.
We will be visiting your region soon. Hope to see you there.