Community Development Officer for Kilombero district Council, Rafael Mwesongo said that through the opinion boxes, the villagers and the entire community have found forums to express their views freely through the opinion boxes.
“These opinion boxes if well monitored are better, I wish this project could be extended to many villages and wards because the leaders are reminded of their noble role and responsibilities,” he said.
John Adam Limahela, a resident of Mkula village, in Mang’ula, said that the opinion boxes have helped to enhance social accountability and monitoring (SAM) among the villagers and some of their leaders are currently working hard to ensure they fulfill their duties and responsibilities on time.
He said after capacity building, he was able to monitor one of the projects that did not materialize in his village and reported to the district authorities so that measures could be taken against the culprits.
The Director for Kilombero Organization for Community Development (KOCD), Christina Dominic said that the locals have been equipped with knowledge and skills to track the progress of public projects. They can collect information, analyse and monitor to ensure different governments projects run successfully.
“So far, KOCD implemented the project on Improving Agriculture Service Delivery through SAM to local Villagers in Kilombero District in Chisano, Kalengakelu and Ching’anda wards with the purposes of ensuring Local Government Authorities (LGAs) deliver improved quality services in agriculture sector,” she said.
According to Dominic, another objective of the project was to ensure local communities are capacitated to be able to make follow up on different project by the government to realize the value for the money.
There were follow-up meetings to 60 agriculture sector stakeholders on SAM in Kilombero DC. They include LGAs leaders, Government Officials, CSOs representatives, influential peoples, Corporate representatives, Agriculture groups, Women groups, Youth Groups and group of people disability from different locations in Kilombero district participated awareness meeting.
Explaining the impact of the project to the local communities, she said a good number of them have received training on TOT, they have been able to monitor different government projects and disclose misconduct of different leaders.
Citing an example, she said some village chairmen and village executives had monopolized and leased the power tiller without the knowledge of the villagers, but the villagers were able to disclose them and the power tillers were returned into the hands of the villagers.
Establishment of opinion boxes, has helped the local communities who cannot speak out in public especially during village meetings to air their views freely.
The project has also changed and enhanced efficiency to some leaders after learning that the local communities were monitoring them.
Dominic recommends that the project has done a lot in terms of capacity building but there are still some wards and districts not reached, therefore, the project should be extended to reach out the remote rural communities.
“We are also recommending that the budget should be increased to allow many hamlets and village leaders to attend the capacity building training to get knowledge and make correct and fair decisions in their respective areas,” she said.
KOCD started working with the Foundation for the Civil Society since 2015. During this time, it has implemented different projects including SAM project.