By Solomon Lubambula
A sizable number of Ugandans are enjoying the services of the new communication technological development while communicating to their loved ones, doing business and of late in money transfers like Mobile Money.
But the benefits of Mobile phone technology should not be limited to those above. Now with the new innovation of smart phones and other applications Ugandans can further the enjoyment of other rights using the same.
Civil society is not letting this opportunity go to waste, they have introduced mobile phone conservation technology. This technology empowers the community to play their civic role of safe guarding their environment but at the same time popularize the use of digital technology among the populace.
The digital platform dubbed, Community Based Monitoring system ensures that the people themselves can report the destruction, encroachment and degradation of forests using mobile phones.
This system establishes monitors and empowers communities with relevant digital information regarding the importance of forests. It is believed that a number of mobile phone owners utilize less than 20% of the phone sets and yet there is so much that phones can do in this digital age.
With this platform people with smart phones can now take photos of such illegality and send it to the same duty bearer like the police or the district forest officer alerting them to take immediate action.
Conversationalists noted that for effective protection of the forests it is important for the communities near the forests to own them up and report any illegal activities.
The Community-based Monitoring system that uses mobile phone technology was designed by a consortium of non-governmental organizations including Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda and Care International in partnership with the National Forestry Authority.
The head of Programs at the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda Felix Kafuma says the community based Monitoring platform empowers the ordinary citizens to use their mobile phones to send text messages to the duty bearers prompting them to take immediate actions to stop the illegal tree cutting and related crimes.
“This gives an opportunity to community members to monitor the Forest sector using a mobile phone application through an ordinary sms (short Messages) or a smart phone application whereby you report the forest related crimes either in real time or with even evidence to the duty bearers for action to be taken”
Launching the mobile phone platform that encourages the public to use their smart phones to take photos of illegal activities in the forests as evidence that can be used by duty bearers, activists warned that the continued de-forestation could have serious implications on the availability of water, food security in the country if there are no timely interventions.
The right to a clean environment can be advocated for by the people themselves using their Mobile phones.
All persons have the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment. Although it has been proved hard to enforce such a right, with community involvement the environment that is responsible for the ecological system can be protected.