Engaging local government in Uganda

AdvocacyCommunity Empowerment

Okulonyo is a small rural community in Uganda. Tearfund partner PAG began working with the church and community in 2008, helping them mobilise their resources to meet their needs.  

Mobile medical teams began visiting this building in Okulonyo after the community advocated to the local government. Photo: Melissa Lawson/Tearfund

The community identified the things they required, such as a water supply and health centre. They then worked together to do what they could – for example, constructing a building where mobile medical teams could visit. 

However, PAG saw there was a limit to what the community could achieve with the resources they had. On their own, they could not provide access to water and a proper health centre. PAG knew the local government had the responsibility and funds to provide public services such as these to the community.  

In 2013, PAG trained facilitators in advocacy. The facilitators then trained the community in how to engage with local government officials. As a result, the community wrote to the local government about their needs and the local officials agreed to meet with them. During the meeting, the officials promised to drill a water source for Okulonyo. After another visit from community members, the local government provided medicines and arranged mobile medical services for the village. 

One official said, ‘Before they approached us, I didn’t really think much of these communities. But since they advocated and engaged with us, we can now see how we can work with them.’ 

Within three months, the local government had provided the community with a new water pump and promised to build them a proper health centre. 

A community member said, ‘We believe that we will get a health centre. The government officials have lived up to their previous commitments. But if we don’t get a response from the government, we will keep demanding it.’ 

Tearfund’s CCM advocacy guide provides advice on including advocacy in church and community mobilisation (CCM). To download a free copy visit www.tearfund.org/ccmadvocacy 

Discussion question

  • How could your church or community advocate to government officials to improve local services?