Citizens Wake Up: The Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme in Tanzania | Tanzania

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Effective community participation in local governance in Tanzania is not an easy process. Power is centralized, and few people are prepared to speak out. That is why the Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme is so exciting. This case study – one of a series of Programme Insights on Local Governance and Community Action – outlines pilots from the first phase of the project, tracking election promises and training farmer animators, active musicians, and student councils
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    Citizens Wake Up The Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme in Tanzan ia  Audience at the launch of a song composed by Chukua Hatua group; Kahama district, Shinyanga region. Photo: Kisuma Mapunda   Effective community participation in local governance in Tanzania is not an easy process. Power is very centralized, and few people are prepared to speak out. That is why the Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme is so exciting. This paper outlines pilots from the first phase of the project – tracking election promises and training and supporting farmer animators, active musicians, and student councils – and shows where and how they were successful and the challenges they faced. It also explains the plans for the next phase, in which Oxfam will work with local decision makers as well as local communities, integrating the most successful elements of the pilots. In this way, the programme will continue to build people’s capacity and skills so that they are truly able to become active citizens.    P  r  o  g  r  a  m  m  e   I  n  s   i  g   h   t  s  2 Citizens Wake Up: The Chakua Hatua programme in Tanzania Oxfam Programme Insights Introduction The Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme has been running in six districts of Shinyanga region and in the Ngorongoro district in Arusha region. Tanzania was established in 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united. Its first President, Julius Nyerere, had a socialist vision for the new country, which continued until the 1990s, when multi-party elections and economic liberalization were introduced. Since 2000, the Tanzanian government has focused on increasing economic growth and reducing poverty. It has had more success with the former goal than with the latter: although rates of growth have increased, levels of poverty remain high. Growth is being driven by sectors of the economy in which the majority of poor Tanzanians are not involved, such as mining, construction, and tourism. Three-quarters of Tanzania’s poor inhabitants are dependent on agriculture, where the growth rate is declining to a point where it will soon fall below population growth, exacerbating food security problems. In 2011, Tanzania ranked 152 out of 187 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. 1 Politically, the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has dominated the country since its birth in 1964. It has the broad support of the population, especially in rural areas, but overall power rests disproportionately with the President, the Executive, and a small group in the upper echelons of the party. At all levels, power is managed largely through systems of patronage. Policy making and planning are highly centralized and heavily donor-influenced. Implementation at all levels suffers from lack of co-ordination, motivation, accountability, capacity, and resources. Parliament has little influence over policy making, although there have been signs of positive change in recent times as progressive MPs have begun to advocate effectively via the media and to improve the level of parliamentary debate. The 2010 elections were the first in which opposition parties made serious inroads.  3 Citizens Wake Up: The Chakua Hatua programme in Tanzania Oxfam Programme Insights ‘Why bother?’ Issues with local governance 2   ‘Not many turn up because many don’t see the importance of village meetings. There is often little implementation of what is decided – so why bother?’  – Male residents of Busanda.   Relative to many countries, Tanzania has an impressive structure in place for local governance at sub-village, village, ward, and district levels. However, the effectiveness of this structure in really allowing local voices to be influential is questionable. Village- and district-level councils are elected and it is their role to oversee bottom-up planning and decision making through to a full council at district level. However, effective control at both levels tends to be held by centrally appointed officials. Elected representatives at local level often lack the desire or capacity to hold these appointed officials to account. 3   At local level, meetings are only called by the village chair and executive. These should take place quarterly, but often happen rarely or not at all. When they do take place, they are not well attended because local people have little faith in them, as one young artist points out: ‘We ask questions in meetings but don’t get satisfactory or truthful answers, or we are prevented from asking because only a short time is set aside for questions.’ There is also a sense of insecurity: people are afraid of being excluded from the patronage system and of losing its benefit or protection. There is evidence of more direct threats to individuals who speak out. Party polarization is also an issue, with any challenge by ordinary citizens often taken by leaders as an indication of opposition politics. In addition, there is a lack of information about policies, laws, people’s rights, and even what is happening in the country. In rural areas, most people get their information from radio, but reception is sometimes poor and people, women in particular, do not have time to listen. Print media are less popular because newspapers arrive very late (up to a week after publication) and in any case many people cannot read. ‘No time to cook’ – the lack of women’s participation in politics ‘A woman can’t speak because she is afraid that if she makes a mistake, people will look down on her and she could be punished.’   ––Woman from Loliondo   Women’s participation is severely restricted by their position in society. Patriarchal customs and attitudes mean that women have fewer opportunities to participate than men and, although they do attend meetings, they rarely speak. One woman noted: ‘Even if you say something good in front of five men, only one will listen to you.’ Women lack confidence because they have little opportunity to participate in elections beyond those for special reserved seats, and as a result there are still few women leaders. ‘It is not the custom and we are not allowed to call meetings ourselves,’ said one woman from Busanda. A man from Shinyanga summed up prevailing attitudes when he said: ‘If a woman participates in politics, do you think she can have time to cook for me?’  4 Citizens Wake Up: The Chakua Hatua programme in Tanzania Oxfam Programme Insights Supporting active citizens: Chukua Hatua ‘Many of us aren’t recognising our rights and are afraid Tanzanians wake up and ask our leaders Citizens, let’s wake up to fight for our rights.’  – Song lyrics composed by musicians supported by Chukua Hatua   Oxfam’s Chukua Hatua (Take Action) programme has been running since  August 2010. It operates in six districts across Shinyanga region, a dry, agro-pastoralist area which is one of the poorest in Tanzania, and Ngorongoro district in Arusha region, another pastoralist region prone to drought. The goal of Chukua Hatua is to achieve increased accountability and responsiveness of government to its citizens. The programme aims to do this primarily by encouraging active citizenship, particularly for women – fostering citizens who know their rights and responsibilities, demand them, and are able to search for and access information. Underpinning the programme is the belief that if people demand their rights and entitlements, then the government will be increasingly compelled to respond. Chukua Hatua has taken an evolutionary approach to programming, using multiple simultaneous pilot projects followed by a review of the pilots’ successes and, based on this, a planned programme design to scale up the successful approaches. The intention is to find out what works as a catalyst to active citizenship. In the first phase the programme piloted five approaches: 1. Election promises tracking:  Training of ‘trackers’ in 36 communities prior to the 2010 elections. They made recordings of rally promises and took these back to their communities to agree priorities. They are now following up progress against the leaders’ promises and recording their findings using cartoon notice boards. 2. Farmer animators:  Orientation of more than 200 farmers nominated by their farmers’ groups of approximately 30 people, to understand principles of accountability, how to strategize to hold those in power to account, and how to share their knowledge and facilitate their groups to take action. 3.  Active musicians:  Training 42 musicians from existing groups on principles of accountability to act as ‘seeds’ in their groups to influence their music, which is widely listened to by communities. 4. Student councils:  Activating an existing space that should provide a voice for students but is currently used by teachers to control students; sensitizing students and teachers on issues of democracy to enable students to campaign for leadership and to hold elections; linking students with community ‘champions’ to help them raise issues with teachers and school management committees. 5. Community radio: Creating a new space in Ngorongoro district to enable pastoralists to share information and debate. Currently the only radio outlet accessible is a Kenyan station. Unfortunately, however, the government has not yet granted the radio licence.
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