Officially launched as ‘The Ghana Districts Monitor’, the smartphone-based app also known as “Taarifa” which means “headline” in Swahili, is to help citizens and local governments to keep track of waste disposal across the country.
In a blog post March 26, 2013, Gaurav Relhan, an ICT specialist at the World Bank, said Taarifa is designed to be a sustainable and powerful social accountability tool, citing an example that the “app automatically captures GPS coordinates, works in the absence of any mobile internet signal (the information gets stored in the phone memory and is automatically sent when the phone connects with Wi-Fi or catches a signal), and the platform also integrates with regular SMS.”
The Bank added that the platform is an online tool for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping which allows citizens to document and report issues and service delivery gaps via SMS, online feedback forms, email or Twitter.
It explains that the Taarifa platform was implemented to enable civil society to monitor waste collection services in the city on behalf of the urban poor, and report problems to the concerned authorities.
In the first phase of the pilot project, the World Bank says smartphones have been distributed to four CSOs (already engaged with local governments on issues related to water & sanitation, waste management, youth education, and slum redevelopment).
People were also trained to use the app, record data and fill-out and send their reports in real time, according to the Bank.
The CSOs have been encouraged to monitor the waste disposal on a contract basis with service providers or other agencies and the money earned from these contracts will allow them to buy more phones, train more personnel, and fuel-up their vehicles.
Such contracts have already been signed and citizen reporting is alive and well in the municipalities of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), said World Bank’s Relhan.
By Ekow Quandzie