After a year-long incubation process supported by the World Bank Institute, 19 Ugandan civil society organisations this week formally established a ‘contract monitoring coalition’ that aims to involve local communities in the oversight of government-funded projects—including those related to oil—awarded to private sector contractors.

“There have in the past been incidents of alleged collusion between contract parties,” Gilbert Sendugwa, who chaired the coalition in its formative stages, told Oil in Uganda. “Our coming on board is going to minimise that possibility and also improve the flow of information.  The coalition will provide a mechanism to bring communities on board, so that they understand the contract, they supervise it and, when the contractors leave, the communities know about the project and are able to sustain it.”

Mr. Sendugwa, who is also Coordinator of the pan-African Africa Freedom of Information Centre, went on to explain that community monitors would be trained to play an oversight role.  For example, he said, the government is funding the construction of 200 schools across the country, and community monitors could play a crucial role in ensuring that the selected contractors complete the work on time and to the agreed quality.

The coalition, Mr. Sendugwa stressed, is committed to a “multi-stakeholder approach,” and will wherever possible work collaboratively with the government and contractors.  Disputes often arise between government inspectors and contractors, he said, and third party monitors could help to resolve these. “A contract that performs is good for the client—in this case, the government—and is good for the contractor. Therefore the involvement of civil society can be very useful for the government and very useful for the private sector.” Read me.