Citizens Trust Local Government Leaders-Twaweza Report

According to results of the study, majority of Ugandans (about 54%) say that the sub-county governments take their views into account in decisions while fewer (35%) report that they believe the national government considers their views.
The majority of citizens say sub-county level leaders take ordinary Ugandans’ views into account when making decisions
Ugandan citizens have confidence in local government leaders.

This is according to the latest findings released by Twaweza in a pair of research briefs on Tuesday at Hotel Africana in Kampala. The survey is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.  

In a brief titled; Ugandans’ experiences of participation and citizens’ agency, at least six out of ten Ugandans (about 58%) say they find it easy to meet local government leaders in their area than it is to meet leaders at a national level.    

In December 2018, Twaweza set out to understand how do Ugandans participate in government, and which citizens participate more or less than others? What prevents people from doing so and what topics are most commonly discussed?  

The researchers also sought to understand from the population what opportunities to make their voice heard and whether citizens see the opportunities as the most straightforward as well as whether they feel their government leaders were respectful and responsive towards them.  

According to results of the study, majority of Ugandans (about 54%) say that the sub-county governments take their views into account in decisions while fewer (35%) report that they believe the national government considers their views.  

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Meanwhile half of Ugandans (about 51%) think that community leaders put effort into being respectful to them.  

A clear majority of citizens say the “most impressive” meetings they have attended were organised by their LC I chairpersons. For instance, six out of 10 of those who have attended a meeting in the past year (who are about 58%) say that the most impactful meeting they attended was organised by the Local Council I Chairpersons.  

“This may well be the natural consequence of proximity – that local leaders are more visible to citizens, perhaps known socially – but it may also be a sign that this proximity translates into more responsiveness on the part of local leaders,” the report notes.   

  Marie Nanyanzi, Sauti za Wananchi Officer at Twaweza, said: “These data show that citizens are often engaged in local processes and see the value of channelling their problems through their local representatives.”  

She argues that whereas this is the case, citizens tend to wait for initiatives from governments but still feel that they face challenges in meaningfully engaging with formal processes such as planning and budgeting.  

“This is no surprise given that public officials themselves appear to believe that citizen access to information is a privilege and they lack sufficient knowledge and resources to encourage citizen participation,” Nanyanzi says.  

Majority of citizens in Uganda (about 75%) have said they find it hard to participate in planning and budget processes while 63% of the population says they find it hard to influence decision-making in their sub-county.    

The report also indicates that less than half of the adult population (about 44%) have attended a public meeting in the past 12 months. 

  This figure is higher among men (51%) than women (38%) and lower among younger citizens (38%). Richer citizens (about 52%) according to the report are more likely than poorer citizens (33%) to have attended a public meeting.  

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  Ugandans say the most common topic on the agenda at these public meetings was local security, which was raised at four out of ten meetings. Other issues discussed at village public meetings include Sanitation/hygiene, Construction of water sources, importance of children's education, and improving roads among others.  

Six different reasons are each cited by one out of four or more citizens for non-attendance at public meetings. At least 60% of Ugandans who don’t attend meetings say they don’t know while others have no interest and with low expectation of results.  

Some citizens about 27% have a feeling that it makes no difference even if they attended the meetings while 26% say they are always busy at the time scheduled for these meetings.


A 24% of the population claim they cannot attend public meetings unless there is compensation/ facilitation in terms of allowances.  

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Nanyanzi attributes the low numbers of women participating in public meetings to patriarchy where men are still viewed as family and society heads.  

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According to report, if citizens felt their participation to be meaningful, there is a chance of unlocking their potential to drive progress and development.  

Gonzaga Mayanja, the Commissioner for Monitoring and Evaluation in the Office of the Prime Minister while receiving the results said they are impressed by the performance of local governments and the population’s feedback on how they interact.  

Mayanja said government through Baraza's and Budget Transparency Initiatives has been able to reach out to citizens through local council leadership. 

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