Depenining democracy in local governments : factors affecting the district civil society network in strengthenig civic participation in Luwero-Uganda
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The study sought to examine the factors affecting District Civil Society Networks (DCSNs) in facilitating citizens’ participation and engagement to deepen local democracy in Luweero District. The study intended to establish reasons why local democracy is not entrenched despite the DCSNs’ efforts to promote civic participation through civic engagement, interface with the state institutions, empowerment and human rights advocacy. It also focused on DCSNs’ roles, challenges and the methods used to generate key outcomes. The study identified operational and contextual factors; established key DCSN’s outcomes; and made recommendations to enhance the DCSN’s role to deepen local democracy. The study design was exploratory and descriptive and adopted both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection. It was carried out on LUNGOF in Wobulenzi Town Council in Luweero district and targeted 142 respondents. A total of 122 respondents participated in the study implying an 86% response rate. The study established that LUNGOF interventions to enhance civic participation and engagement have not empowered ordinary people to fully benefit from the local democratization processes. Besides, while DCSNs have many successes, they have both internal and external challenges that limit their responsiveness, transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness to promote civic participation and local democracy. Thus, local governance as the main conduit for civic engagement is not entrenched at local levels. The study recommended that CSOs need to; build capacity commensurate to the civic participation mandate; strengthen existing links between the CSOs and Local Governments; promote information sharing and networking; embrace internal democratic governance approaches and participatory planning at all levels; proactively respond to democratic governance challenges; make long term investment in community empowerment initiatives; collectively lobby government for a better operating environment; promote effective partnerships and multi-stakeholder dialogue to deepen democracy.