16 Mar 2016

Citizen-led Advocacy and Impact: A report by Tracka Nigeria

Tracka, is a tool that was launched in June 2014. Tracka (tracka.ng) is a social platform for active citizens who are interested in tracking budgets and public projects in their community. Using grassroots monitors and partners of projects located across the Federation, this approach explores the use of technology to track budgets and reports to executive and legislative bodies that are responsible for these projects. Social media is used to amplify discussions on projects. With the ability to use web, mobile web, apps and SMS, citizens can have a focal point for tracking public projects and report on-the-ground performance to institutions. The hashtag #KnowYourBudget is used for tweets which receive the most attention.

Tracka has its main objectives as:
·         To expand the community network of active citizens across the society by developing creative tools that encourage engagement between citizens and public institutions resulting in improved service delivery.
·         To widen, on a national and local level, the scope of information available to citizens about Nigeria's budget priorities.
·         To get digitally literate Nigerians to collaborate on getting and disseminating accurate information for greater transparency.

Tracka worked on the 2015 budget in Edo State and also tracked the nature of roads in Lagos State. A press release was published in the Nation Newspaper before starting the tracking work. In the Edo State 2015 budget, 24 communities were involved,183 projects were tracked which included roads, boreholes, schools, agricultural and rural electrification projects, letters were written to the state governor, House of Assembly members and commissioners of the respective ministries. Further, town hall meetings were held in 21 communities out of the 24 communities mapped out for tracking. Citizen participation was high side as the communities were interested in the work done by BudgIT Teams. Out of the letters written, Tracka only got response from the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources agreeing to execute the project in the 2016 budget. Further effort to get responses from the other ministries was not requited.

The team embarked on aggressive campaign on capital projects, by engaging citizen in the rural and urban areas. Publication in the Vanguard Daily Newspaper was made as an effort to drive the government to deliver quality service. Due to the financial crisis in the country most of the projects stated in the 2015 budget were not executed; in fact not until late November did the state government embark on construction of a few of the projects tracked in the budget in the urban metropolis in the state. Based on advocacy and consistent engagement through social media, infographics and letters to the state government 75% of the projects tracked in the 2015 budget that were not implemented have been re-awarded in the 2016 budget. This is a clear indicator that advocacy and civic engagement will lead to the implementation of these projects in the 2016 fiscal year.

Herbert Macaulay Way along Yaba area was faced with grid traffic congestion due to the deplorable condition of the road. However after Tracka wrote to the Lagos State Ministry of Works and the Public Works Corporation as well as consistent social media engagement after two weeks the request for the repair of the road was acknowledged and work started. The road is now motorable to commuters plying the road.

In 2015 Tracka also embarked on mass tracking of all the bad roads and streets around the Lagos Metropolis by engaging the state government on social media. In October the Lagos State Government approved the construction of 114 roads; 95% of these were roads tracked by Tracka. Tracka continues monitoring the work being done on these roads and holds weekly chats to report on the progress as witnessed by the project officers who conduct weekly checks on the roads until repair is completed within six months. 

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