Transformative Democracy: SCENE’s Contribution to Constitutional and Legal Reforms in Uganda.

Published By UNNGOF |  January 10, 2024

Within the complex fabric of Uganda’s political history, the Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Elections (SCENE) initiative emerges as a transformative force, weaving threads of participatory democracy and civic empowerment. With an eight-year commitment and funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SCENE is an endeavour implemented by a consortium of two organisations – the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) and the Forum for Women in Democracy(FOWODE).

At its core, SCENE seeks to cultivate a proactive and engaged citizenry capable of influencing constitutional, political, and legal reform processes in Uganda. In a country marked by episodes of political violence, political instability, disenfranchisement, and limited trust in the governance system, SCENE’s overarching goal is nothing short of transformative –encouraging citizens to take part in electoral processes towards achieving improvement in the democratic and governance process.

Through sustained efforts, the initiative has successfully established sustainable community forums that serve as vibrant hubs for citizens’ engagement. These forums provide spaces for dialogue, deliberation, and collaborative problem-solving, enabling citizens to actively shape the direction of the democracy they desire.

SCENE’s impact further plays a critical role in building election stakeholder forums, facilitating collaborations between civil society and Government agencies at the regional and national levels. This approach is instrumental in addressing complex challenges and ensuring that diverse perspectives contribute to the democratic discourse. Moreover, SCENE has also been a key player in coordinating civil society efforts to influence proposed Election-Related Bills. SCENE’s success is also measured by its ability to inform public debate. Through rigorous research and opinion polling, the initiative has elevated the level of discourse around critical issues, ensuring that citizens are well-informed and actively participate in shaping the political landscape. Beyond the legislative and electoral realms, SCENE recognises the importance of building the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to facilitate and coordinate citizen participation effectively. The initiative serves as a catalyst for CSO partnerships hence creating a sense of ownership that strengthens the collective impact of civil society in Uganda.

As SCENE reflects on its journey, the lessons learned are invaluable. Building meaningful relationships with government agencies, navigating complex operating environments, and prioritising community engagement models that resonate with citizens’ daily lives have been key contributors to SCENE’s success. When citizens are empowered and engaged, transformative change becomes a tangible reality.