Tag Archives: twaweza

Useful links

A Twaweza brief from last year that I missed: Should Tanzania Borrow Commercially? It’s an excellent overview of borrowing and debt issues facing the country.

Jillian C York. Her blog is a must read if you are interested in the potential and limitations of social media for activists. Her North Africa and Middle East knowledge is pretty pertinent too, don’t you think? What’s more, she’s involved with herdict, a tool that draws on the herd to identify site blocking. But that would never happen in Tanzania, would it? You mean it has?

Finally, read up on Beijing’s Ai Weiwei, artist and activist. Start with the interview in today’s Irish Times. Anybody who can counter a mainstream event like the Shanghai Biennale of 2000 with the Fuck Off Exhibition gets me interested.


Read it and weep

Anecdotally, it is widely felt that Tanzania’s schools are struggling- despite notable increases in enrollment and an annual budget of over a billion dollars ( that’s US, not Hong Kong) for education.

Uwezo – an initiative of Twaweza – decided to measure it and launched their findings just this morning (in the luxury of the Kilimanjaro Kempinski – always a questionable choice for NGO affairs, I feel). Their survey of over 22,000 households and their 42,000 children confirms suspicions. 80 percent of primary school leavers (that is, they have completed all seven years) can read to a level they should have reached in their second year, and maybe higher. And 70 percent of primary school leavers can deal with second year mathematics.

In other words, 20 percent of primary school leavers can’t read this:

Hapo zamani za kale, samaki waliishi nchi kavu. Waliishi kwa kula wadudu kama vile panzi, mende na sisimizi. Siku moja, wadudu hawa walikaa kikao na kupanga namna ya kuwaondoa samaki. Katika kikao chao wengi walicangia. Ikafika zamu ya sisimizi. Sisimizi alisimama na kusema, “umoja ni nguvu na utengano ni udhaifu”. Wote walisimama na kupiga kelele, “samaki wauaweee”. Samaki waliposikia hivi walikimbia na kujificha majini. Hadi hivi leo samaki wanaishi majini.

And 30 percent of those who get past primary can’t work this out:

15 x 4 =

It is a sensitive time for them to do this. Five years ago the NGO HakiElimu found itself proscribed from carrying out any activities in Tanzanian schools after it released a report that was in parts critical of Tanzania’s Primary Education Development Programme. HakiElimu, like Twaweza, was founded by Rakesh Rajani.

The report’s first recommendation is that we stop and think. Hopefully this can be achieved but during the rough and tumble of an election campaign, that may not be so easy. On the other hand the wide range of collaborators, from the Ministry to the private sector, hopefully indicates that findings have already seeped out into the right places and a ruckus can be avoided. But no doubt, turning around such a situation will necessitate some tense conversations to say the least.

The full report is worth getting your hands on. To a non-specialist it appears pretty rigorous. Its outline of the assessment methodology is comprehensive but also easy to digest. This is important in a country where such survey findings can sometimes be distrusted. It would have been good to also include the processes around the household questionnaire that also appears to have been administered alongside the numeracy and literacy assessments.

The numbers covered were substantial. So it would also have been good to learn more of how the data was collected and managed. With next year’s survey expected to cover c. 70,000 kids, it’s an issue that will only get bigger. So  other mechanisms for managing distributed fieldwork may want to be looked at. Why not look at Indaba?

Will things change? That’s not up to Uwezo/Twaweza, but they are bullish, particularly about the potential role of tech innovations in opening up data and information and Cash on Delivery as a means of delivering aid on the basis of results. We’ll see.

A summary of the report can be found on the Twaweza website but not the Uwezo site, which tells us today  that the findings will be out “later this year“. Tech innovations and all that. I hope I can update this very soon.

Update 22 9 10

The report and summaries are available on at the Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao wa Elimu Tanzania (TEN/MET).

This takes you to the full report (English).

This takes you to a summary of findings (English)

This takes you to a summary of findings (Swahili).

Twaweza….. and IyaDedE

Twaweza have a really nice website now. Seems to explain what they do pretty clearly, which is pretty much what you want.

Lets kiss and make up – and then let’s go all electro pop with iyaDedE, while thanking Kate Bomz for the tip.

Twaweza listens, by the looks of things.

I’m boring myself at this stage, so this is the last Twaweza *post ever.

The John Githongo and Jamie Drummond piece which originally appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail was notable it’s positive spin on Twaweza’s work without mentioning the minor issue that John Githongo works for Twaweza in Kenya. I gave out about that.

The piece has been re-run today by allAfrica.com, with that little issue amended. Which is good.

Note to Twaweza: social media seems to be a big part of what you want to do. If you want to understand it…… use it. Participate. Join the conversation.

*link changed Feb 11 09 to take you to their new website, not the interim one.

Even better than the real thing: Part le Pili

I had thought that Twaweza was behind me…. until this popped up in my feed reader this morning, pointing me to this piece here in the Globe and Mail. It’s John Githongo and Jamie Drummond calling for a “bottom up citizen led strategy for sustainable development.” Drummond is of course the head of ONE – Bono’s advocacy baby. Githongo needs no introduction, of course. Or maybe he does? Read on…

I really don’t know where to start. Their talk of accountability, empowerment and transparency suggests the importance of integrity in public life.

But transparency does not just apply to government budgets. It also applies to those in public life but outside government – Civil Society. Same goes for integrity.

The article is clearly aimed at global level rich world policy makers (aka donors). And it says this:

African accountability efforts by civil society and think tanks must be expanded dramatically. Efforts such as Twaweza, an East African citizen accountability movement, can be scaled up across the continent and deliver great returns on investment by empowering citizens to demand their rights.

“Returns on investment”…. that is so Davos. But seriously, if Twaweza is to be scaled up that would surely be on the basis of solid results that have been achieved already in the Twaweza programme. What are they and where can I read about them? As Githongo and Drummond say:

One of the great scandals in development is the lack of good statistics to measure progress – this area needs much more investment.


And if transparency is so important, why does the bio of John Githongo at the end of the piece not mention that he is the Twaweza director for Kenya. Surely that is relevant? The piece has been up since Thursday and it could so easily be corrected, as it was on Friday when one statistic was amended.

So I guess that Twaweza will get in touch with the Globe and Mail when they see the piece and ask for a correction on Githongo’s bio?

Chuck D and Flava Flav…. once again….. take it from the top

Even better than the real thing

Tanzanian initiatives don’t make the New York Times too often. So when Bono mentions an NGO initiative such as Twaweza and it gets blogged here and there and eventually works its way back to me in Tanzania…. I start to think. The first thing that comes to mind is that I’d rather see Profesa Jay bigging up Twaweza in the Tanzanian press than Bono in the US press.

Fr. Bono, in his end of year homily, tells us of pyramids of power being turned upside down; of new technologies emancipating the down trodden. His only evidence?

for example, Twaweza, a citizen’s organization, is spreading across East Africa, helping people hold local officials accountable for managing budgets and delivering services. (Twaweza is Swahili for “we can make it happen.”)

So what work is that exactly? Visit the Twaweza page* on the Hivos website (one of their funders) and you’ll see outlines of work on improving “water point functionality” in Tanzania in cooperation with Daraja, “deepening dialogue about public accountability” in Kenya, literacy and numeracy assessment across East Africa and some TV spots.

Clicking through the Daraja link on water points and I can’t find anything solid on how Twaweza helps to:

a) share information about water point functionality to the public in accessible formats, primarily through the media and b) enable citizens to update functionality information in real time via SMS, and c) analyze and publicize responsiveness of government to citizen notification.

The work in Kenya on public accountability is via the Zinduko Trust. Click on the link yourself and check the information available.

No information is available on the Twaweza page on any on the “ ‘citizen movement based’ literacy initiative that is Uwezo”, though a quick google gives some a little info from other sources.

And I’ve yet to see the TV spots. But then, I don’t have a TV.

None of the above is a criticism of Daraja, the Zinduko Trust or the Uwezo initiative. But it is a criticism of  Twaweza allowing hype to overcome reality and a criticism of Bono for not taking East Africa seriously. How Bono came to name check Twaweza in the NYT is anyone’s guess. But it leaves Twaweza and its partners exposed (even Bono, indeed) if there isn’t easily available evidence of how Twaweza is doing what Bono says it does.

What Twaweza wants to do is positive and deserves support. But if it comes off, it willl take time and patience.

Disclosure: I occasionally collect an allowance from Hivos.

*Update Feb 11 09: Twaweza have a new website to be found here.

Chuck D and Flava Flav