Janet Asiimwe is a lawyer, writer and development practitioner who is working as ActionAid's regional governance program coordinator today. She has been together with ActionAid Uganda for six years and since last year she has been working with good and local governance in the Arab region. Janet considers local and good governance as the foundation for development and she is very passionate about human rights and justice.
What role does local and good governance play in the Arab region?
The Key to sustainable development begins with local and good governance concepts that are very new in the region linking to human rights. As a development organization it’s only natural to advance local governance, which forms a basis for development. That is why AA ARI is focusing on creating awareness on local and good governance, youth spaces and building youth capacity to enable them engage on governance effectively.
Further, since the Arab spring in which the youth played a major role, there has remained a great thirst among the youth and citizens for good governance specifically equitable systems, transparency and accountability as can be witnessed by the many engagements on this in the region. So there can be no better time for us as an organization to advance good governance other than this. To support the citizens ensure accountability in the region, we have gone back to basics using the human rights based approach focusing on directly building youth, citizens and civil society networks, creating awareness on local governance, building youth and civil society capacities facilitating them to engage and shape how they play their role in ensuring accountability.
How does AA support citizens in the decision-making process and engage youth in the political process?
The Organization has created various platforms for citizens to engage on various local governance issues affecting them but specifically to facilitate them engage on the political process and have their say. For example in Jordan we have youth centers where youth can engage on any issues and strategize to take them forward and a radio talk show on local governance that runs on a weekly basis creating massive awareness on local governance and the role that citizens can play to advance it. In Tunisia, websites have been launched for citizens to access bills in Parliament to vote on articles within the bills or entire bill and this used to facilitate lobbying Parliament and influence their decisions. We are optimistic this is the beginning of creation of systems that facilitate citizens’ engagement and participation in the political processes in the region effectively.
What is the outcome of ActionAid’s activities together with our regional partners?
From the governance perspective, the one major outcome of the governance cluster is we have gotten citizens increasingly coming together to engage on any issue of their concern. This is a very positive step towards rooting citizens’ participation in governance in the region. We work with 18 major Partners across the region in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Since launching the local governance show on ‘Radio Al Balad’ – how will the program contribute to your local governance work?
The debate has created a platform that is facilitating information sharing and helping citizen’s to form opinions on information received and exercising the right to expression on governance matters. How citizens perceive and utilize information they receive will shape how they take transparency and accountability issues forward and the democratic system they wish to have
This radio show will be an eye opener to the citizens as it will facilitate access to information on governance enabling them to recognize governance issues affecting them stimulating questions on transparency and accountability and exploration of ideas giving them confidence to push foward democratic processes