UGANDA: MULTI-NATIONAL CONTROL SEEDS INDUSTRY WHILE LOCAL FARMERS CRY FOR INDIGENOUS SEEDS BANK

 

local seeds.JPG

Indigenous seeds preserved in bottles in Gulu district ready for distribution

“Small scale farmers who form over 95% (percent) of the farmers in Uganda and had control over their seed since time immemorial and we were never going wrong; but the trend is quickly changing. As farmers, without seeds, we shall never be called farmers”

“Although we appreciate the government’s consistency in public investment in input distribution, there is continued public outcry for inputs, this is mainly in form of lack of availability, accessibility, affordability but also the quality”

 

GULU-UGANDA: Small Scale Farmers in Uganda, under their umbrella organization; Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)-Uganda; has appealed to  President Yoweri Museveni not to sign the bill recently  passed by parliament which is meant to promote GMO seeds into law.

This call was made by the chairperson of ESAFF-Uganda, Mr. Mario Munguaciel, from Gulu city on Thursday, February 8, 2018 during a regional seed security dialogue. The dialogue was called to discuss the impact of public investments in in-put distribution in Uganda and the alternative seeds models, which was held under the theme; “making voices of small scale farmers be heard”.

“Small scale farmers who form over 95% (percent) of the farmers in Uganda and had control over their seed since time immemorial and we were never going wrong; but the trend is quickly changing. As farmers without seeds, we shall never be called farmers”, says Mr. Munguaciel.

He observes that only 13% (percent) of planted area in Uganda is planted with seed from seed companies and out of this 25% (percent) comprises maize seed.

“Although we appreciate the government’s consistency in public investment in input distribution, there is continued public outcry for inputs, this is mainly in form of lack of availability, accessibility, affordability but also the quality”.

According to the woman Member of Parliament for Gulu district, Ms. Betty Aol Ocan, parliament recently passed the much contested National Biosafety Act (2017) which is meant to protect the seed sovereignty of farmers against the promotion of GMO seeds; which bill was sent to President Yoweri Museveni to ascend to but he has not yet signed it into law.

“We told the ministry of agriculture that GMO seeds and products must be labeled as such to enable the customer make informed decision. It is not healthy to promote GMO products at all”, says the legislator.

Uganda’s seed sector is fully liberalized but is still in its early stage of growth. ESAFF is organizing regional workshops which bring together small scale farmers, local leaders and other partners to discuss how to create strategies on how to promote seed rights especially for rural women.

The chairperson of EASSF-Gulu chapter, Ms. Vick Lukwiya, appeals to government to establish indigenous seed banks in all regions of Uganda to enable community manage seed security.

She reveals that on October 15, 2017, 147 farmers from Gulu went for Trainer of Trainers (TOT) training in Iganga on how farmers can preserve indigenous seeds instead of relying on seeds from companies.

She accused seed companies of deceiving farmers that the seeds they park are good yet most of their seeds are got from local food markets or from research farms which manufacture improved seeds, but with ulterior motives of milking money from unsuspecting farmers. She gave the example of maize seeds which has 63 different varieties, all of which cannot be replanted.

“If I am called Vicky, why should they manufacture different varieties of Vicky called Vicky I, Vicky II or Vicky III? What new thing have you added to Vick if not chemicals? I would like to thank President Yoweri Museveni for refusing to sign into law the bill which was meant to introduce GMO seeds in the Uganda market”, says Ms. Vicky.

According to Mr. Paul Kilama, an agriculture extension worker in Gulu District agricultural office, the National Biosafety Act 2017 is meant to protect large scale commercial farmers from unscrupulous seed companies who pack and sell seeds, but whose products are of mixed varieties.

“These large scale commercial farmers use machines to plant only single variety of improved seeds of a particular crop in a season. If the seeds are mixed then the machines would reject them. If you think indigenous seeds are good, then I challenge you to produce them in large quantities to supply to our commercial farmers”, says Mr. Kilama.

The Gulu Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Mr. Santos Okot-Lapolo observes that the difference between cultural heritage and indigenous seeds is so minimal that each culture must preserve its seeds. He appeals to the Acholi not only to preserve their indigenous seeds such as sesame (simsim), millet and shea-nut in large quantities; but also to sell the seeds to the rest of the world.

“Where have you put your old traditional seeds? Instead you are crying for the free seeds being distributed by government under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). Stop should being dependent on handouts. The situation now is; how can we use this seeds to bring you income?” Lapolo says.

Advertisements

UGANDA: ‘NO LONGER BUSINESS AS USUAL’ AT OPERATION WEALTH CREATION, SAYS GENERAL MUSEVENI’S BROTHER

Below: Example of corruption: a walking tractor which was imported

 

walking tractor 3“It is anticipated that the implementation of the logistic hub and e-voucher card system will address most of the challenges identified in phase I. We can’t continue doing the same things the same way and expect different results”

“If we don’t dictate things to our people and we leave them to do as they wish, then we shall never take off. We visited the field yesterday (Thursday) and we found that some farmers did extremely well while others did not. It is no longer business as usual”

GULU-UGANDA:Uganda is bleeding with corruption cases in all sectors, and dictator Museveni’s brain child; ‘Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), which was meant to fight poverty among the population, is no exception.

Corruption in Uganda is characterized by grand-scale theft of public funds and petty corruptions involving public officials at all levels of society as well as a system of patronage based on political affiliation.

There are several high corruption risk areas such as police, judiciary and procurement. Businesses are particularly vulnerable when bidding public contracts in Uganda because processes are often non-transparent and under the table cash payments are demanded by procurement officers.

Officials continue to engage in corruption despite laws or institutional instruments that are in place to punish corruption individuals.

President Museveni launched OWC in 2014 ‘to reinforce already existing government structures to transform subsistence farmers into commercial farmers for accelerated and sustainable national socio-economic development’, says Chief Coordinator of OWC, General Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh. He is Museveni’s younger brother.

Mr. Museveni wants to transform the country into a middle-income status by 2020 and he is doing things desperately to realize that dream; but the impediment is corruption in government; which unfortunately may not make Uganda realize that dream.

The agricultural sector, which remains the backbone of Uganda’s economy, by significantly contributing to national food security and nutrition, job creation and incomes for the majority of the population, employs about 73% (percent) of the labor force (formal and informal).

Since its launch in 2014, OWC distributed inputs to farmers worth millions of dollars, where in 2017/2918 financial year alone it injected shs300 billion UGX ($84 million dollars), but its impact is not felt on the ground as far as fighting poverty is concerned.

In a speech titled “Re-focusing the OWC intervention to meet the commander’s intent” to a stakeholders workshop held on Friday February 2, 2018 in Acholi Inn, Gulu,  General Saleh listed twenty-five “operational challenges and policy gaps”, which must be sealed if the program is to meet its objective.

In a speech read to him by Colonel John Charles Anywar, one of the directors at OWC secretariat, General Saleh lists ‘delivery of low quality and quantity inputs’; ‘late delivery of inputs’; ‘high mortality rate of planting materials and breeding stock attributed to draught and poor management’; delivery of inputs to wrong agro-ecological zones’; ‘poor post-harvest handling and processing’; ‘inflation of price of inputs especially livestock’ and ‘supply of air’, among others challenges.

“The above challenges having been identified, it was planned that phase II of the operation provides solutions to address these challenges so that the second phase operates better without repeat of the same”, says General Saleh.

General Saleh identified five strategies which should be implemented during phase II of OWC, which is stabilization phase, to seal these gaps. These strategies includes continued deployment of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers in the program, formation of farmer groups, water for irrigation, establishment of regional logistic hub and e-voucher systems and new administrative structure.

“It is anticipated that the implementation of the logistic hub and e-voucher card system will address most of the challenges identified in phase I. We can’t continue doing the same things the same way and expect different results”, says General Saleh.

According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Mr. Vincent Rubarema, his ministry is mandated to promote and support sustainable and market oriented agricultural production, food security and household incomes with a mission to transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture. OWC works hand-in-hand with this ministry’s National Agricultural advisory services (NAADS).

In a speech read to him by Ms. Consoleta Acayo, one of the commissioners in MAAFI, Mr. Rubarema, says his ministry has prioritized extension support to famers, provision of water for irrigation and disease control for livestock in order to realize the vision of the ministry: “a competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector”.

Ms. Acayo says the government has prioritized some crops like coffee, tea, cocoa and citrus and fruits like mangoes and oranges to boost income for the farmers besides the traditional food security crops.

“If we don’t dictate things to our people and we leave them to do as they wish, then we shall never take off. We visited the field yesterday (Thursday) and we found that some farmers did extremely well while others did not. It is no longer business as usual”, says Ms. Acayo.

 

UGANDA: GOVERNMENT TO BOOST OUTPUT THROUGH MONITORING ABSENTEEISM IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Below: Ms. Grace Labalpiny Kilara, the headteacher of Gulu Public Primary School, in her office.

Mrs Kilara“We were a bit compromised in the way we used to report on the performance of our teachers; and this has always been reflected in our Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results. How do you recommend that a teacher is ‘very good’ yet his pupils would get zero first grades in PLE? It doesn’t add up. We have realized that the problem can’t be solved by only one ministry”

“Gulu parents are not happy about performance of our schools as compared to towns like Lira. Why does your school get only five pupils in division one, yet other schools get 247 in first grade? This is not acceptable. We have a big problem in Gulu”

 

GULU-UGANDA: Ministries of Education and that of Local government have come up with a new policy of monitoring teacher/pupil absenteeism in primary schools, which is the highest in Africa, Mr. George Okidi, the Assistant Commissioner, Education Standards has revealed.

The new policy means Assistant Town Clerks/Town Agents; and Assistant Secretaries/Parish Chiefs, who are all employees of the Ministry of Local Government, will join their counterparts of the Ministry of Education-Inspector of Schools, in monitoring both teachers’ and pupils’ attendance.

“We were a bit compromised in the way we used to report on the performance of our teachers; and this has always been reflected in our Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results. How do you recommend that a teacher is ‘very good’ yet his pupils would get zero first grades in PLE? It doesn’t add up. We have realized that the problem can’t be solved by only one ministry”, says Mr. Okidi.

He made the remarks on Thursday, January 25, 2018 from Gulu Public Primary School during an education stakeholders’ meeting called to equip managers of schools within Gulu Municipality with the new policy.

In the old policy, it was only the head teachers who filled Public Service Performance Agreement; but this time every stakeholder is involved.

The Town Clerk, Gulu Municipal Council Mr. Francis Baryabanawe, told the meeting that the poor performance of Gulu Municipal schools in national examination, PLE is ‘not acceptable’

“Gulu parents are not happy about performance of our schools as compared to towns like Lira. Why does your school gets only five pupils in division one, yet other schools get 247 in first grade? This is not acceptable. We have a big problem in Gulu”, says Mr. Baryabanawe.

According to Gulu District Education Officer, Mr. Caesar Akena, there are three main factors to the poor performance in national examinations, namely; poor attendance of learners and teachers, lack of implementation of school feeding program and lack of supervision by stakeholders.

“We should improve on attendance, community participation in schools and feeding in schools must be made compulsory. No child must be left behind”, says the educator.

The Deputy Mayor of Gulu Municipal Council, Ms. Pauline Lukwayi urged stakeholders to embrace the new policy and ensure that the school feeding program is implemented in all schools for the benefit of the learners with the aim of improving on performance.

According to the headteacher of the 60-year old Gulu Public Primary School, Ms. Grace Labalpiny Kilara, the new supervision policy tool is ‘very helpful’ in support supervision.

Her school, which scored 2, 45, 8 and 8 in divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively in the 2017 PLE, suffers from lack of support of parents in the management of the school and payment of school dues in time.

She however complains of poaching by private schools of some of the brighter pupils in lower primary by convincing parents to transfer such pupils to their schools just to boost the number of pupils who pass in division 1 from their schools.

She observes that some pupils are lazy, lack concentration in class or simply absent themselves from school; which in the long run affects PLE results.

“With this new tool, we shall enforce strict supervision of teachers for effective teaching and improved on performance in PLE”, says Ms. Kilara

Last month the Ministry of Education released the 2017 PLE results and named Fort Portal Municipality, Entebbe, Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Jinja, Kabale, Masaka, Mbarara, Lira and Masindi as the best performing districts. A total of 640,833 candidates set for the exams from 12,391 centers across the country.

UGANDA: LRA RETURNEES GET OXEN FOR REINTEGRATION AND REHABILITATION; SCORES STILL MISSING

IMG_0110

Mr. Omona David, receives his oxen and ox-plough from Acholi Cultural king, Rwot David Onen-acana II

“I want to thank the government of Uganda for putting in place the amnesty law and the peace which people are now enjoying in northern Uganda, which has enabled some of us who returned from LRA captivity to resettle at home in peace”

“I had lost all hope that Omona was still alive. I want to thank God for guiding him throughout the twenty-three years he remained in LRA captivity”

GULU-UGANDA: Omona David was born in 1981 from Bwobo Manam village in Alero sub-county in Nwoya district. That was the year in which Uganda Dictator of 32 years, General Yoweri Museveni, was just beginning to wage  his five-year National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) bush war which eventually saw the end of two regimes; that of Dr. Milton Obote and General Tito Okello-Lutwa in 1985 and 1986 respectively.

His ambition to be ‘somebody’ in the future through education was dashed at a tender age of thirteen years when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of warlord Joseph Kony, abducted him on September 15, 1994 and conscripted him in their ranks alongside seven other boys of his age from the same village.

After spending twenty-three years in LRA captivity, his luck came on April 27, 2017, when he escaped and has since been repatriated back to Uganda from the Central African Republic (CAR) by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). He received repatriation kits like clothes, shoes and soap. He then went home in Alero to try to live a peasantry life like his parents through subsistence farming.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 he was one of the ten former LRA returnees who received a pair of oxen plus accompanying ox-plough each from a local non-governmental organization, Pathways to Peace Uganda during  a function held at Ker Kal Kwaro of Acholi, the headquarter of Acholi cultural institution.

“I want to thank the government of Uganda for putting in place the amnesty law and the peace which people are now enjoying in northern Uganda, which has enabled some of us who returned from LRA captivity to resettle at home in peace”, says Mr. Omona, moments after receiving his pair of oxen and ox-plough.

The shs.30 million Uganda shillings (US$48300 dollars) package was made possible with funding from the United States Department of States under their Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). This grant ensures continuous support to Ugandan LRA defectors, specifically their repatriation, reintegration/reunion and rehabilitation.

He appealed to the returnees not to misuse what has been given to them as resettlement packages since it will send wrong messages to donors that the returnees do not care about the kind of life they went through.

Justice & Reconciliation Project (JRP), a local non-governmental organization working with former abductees, estimates that over 7,000 children out of over 30,000 who were abducted from northern Uganda are still missing. They could still be in captivity or have since died in captivity.

Speaking on behalf of parents of the returnees, Rwot Peter Lawot of Bwobo clan, to which Mr. Omona belongs, says his family had lost hope that Mr. Omona was still alive in LRA captivity.

“I had lost all hope that Omona was still alive. I want to thank God for guiding him throughout the twenty-three years he remained in LRA captivity”, says Rwot Lawot.

According to the Director of Pathways to Peace Uganda, Mr. David Ochitti-Okech, his organization has so far reunited 87 LRA returnees since 2014 with their families through its reunion and reintegration program.

The Political Commissar of the Fourth UPDF Division, Major Charles Ojatum, says the UPDF did a ‘professional job’ of rescuing the former LRA abductees and that the onus is on the returnees to be law abiding, join government programs like Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) to enable them fit in society.

The paramount King of Acholi Kingdom, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, praised the new NGO, Pathways to Peace Uganda, (P2P) for intervening in peace work where other NGOs had left undone during the peak of the insurgency like reuniting former returnees with their families and family tracing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UGANDA: RETIREMENT LAW DOES NOT GIVE MUSEVENI INCENTIVE TO CEED POWER PEACEFULLY

Below: Commander-in-Chief of the UPDF, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

yoweri-president-de-louganda

COMMENTARY

“civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person after ceasing to be President; in respect for anything done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity before or during the term of office of that person, and any period of limitation in respect of such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the period while that person was President”

A person is “disqualified if they have committed a crime during their tenure such as subversion, extrajudicial killings, theft and money laundering”.

 

GULU-UGANDA: On October 20, 2011, Africa’s longest serving dictator of 42 years, the deposed leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, was found hiding in a culvert, west of Sirte and captured by the National Transitional Council Forces. He was killed shortly afterwards.

This brought his regime to a brutal end and Libya has never seen peace since his exit from the political stage of Libya and Africa in general.

His body, that of his son, Mutessim and that of a former aide were buried in a secret desert location where they were all given full Islamic burial rites.

Gaddafi became the first casualty of what later became known internationally as the ‘Arab Spring’ —a mass protests which swept through North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; and Bahrain, Yemen and Syria in the Middle East.

The whole drama ensued from an act of protest in Bouazizi, Tunisia, when a 26-year-old man set himself ablaze on December 17, 2010, after a brush with a police when his cart of merchandise, that he was hawking, was confiscated by a policewoman who had slapped him and spat on his face.

These protests also saw the brutal end of the 30-year-old regime of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in February 2011, and the 24-year-old reign of President Zine El Abidine Ben Alli of Tunisia, who was forced to flee on January 14, 2011.

Another long serving African Dictator who was forced out of power through the intervention of the military is Zimbabwe’s Mr. Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year-old reign came to abrupt end in December 2017.

Unlike the late Gaddafi who was killed during the revolution, Ben Alli who was forced to flee his country or Mubarak, was arrested during the uprising, while Mugabe is lucky to have negotiated his safe exit with a $10 million dollar-bonus as retirement package.

In order to cede power, Mugabe will also get a residence, twenty staffs, a fleet of chauffeur driven cars, security guards, diplomatic passport, pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting President, four trips within Zimbabwe and four trips abroad on a private plane.

Mr. Mugabe now joins Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos who refused to stand again in the April 23, 2017 election.

Some of his retirement packages include 90% of his salary ($6,200), air travels, chauffeur driven cars and immunity from prosecution.

“As ‘president of the republic emeritus honorary, he could only be judged before a special tribunal ‘for criminal or civil liability’ for acts unrelated to the exercise of his functions’- that is to say for any alleged corruption.

This now leaves Africa with three longest serving heads of states whose peaceful exit from leadership is not predicted in the near future. They are Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea who has ruled for 38 years since august 1979, Mr. Paul  Biya of Cameroon who has ruled for 35 years since November 1982 , and Uganda’s General Yoweri Museveni who has ruled Uganda for 32 years since January 26, 1986.

President Museveni has just assented to a controversial new law which amended Article 102(b) by removing presidential age-limit of 75 years (upper scale), which was in the constitution, and has given green light for Mr. Museveni, now 73 years old, to run again in future elections.

This has angered majority of Ugandans including opposition, religious, cultural and other civil society organization (CSO) leaders. The Uganda Law Society has since joined scores to petition court over the new law. This has dashed any hope for a peaceful transfer of power in Uganda since the country gained independence in 1962.

Ugandan laws on succession are so unfavorable that a sitting president, like Museveni, cannot easily accept to leave power peacefully because of fear of prosecution for crimes he might have committed while in office. He only enjoys immunity while in office.

Article 98(5) of the 1995 Constitution, which states that: “civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person after ceasing to be President; in respect for anything done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity before or during the term of office of that person, and any period of limitation in respect of such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the period while that person was President” does not favor peaceful transfer of power from one president to another in Uganda.

On June 23, 2010 Uganda parliament approved the Emoluments and Benefits of the President, Vice president and Prime Minister bill 2009 which gives retiring presidents a ‘fully furnished house, chauffeur driven cars, health insurance policy, security guards, education allowances to four biological children; but  it still contains that dreaded clause which says a person is “disqualified if they have committed a crime during their tenure such as subversion, extrajudicial killings, theft and money laundering”.

Ugandans should entice Museveni to cede power peacefully, just like the Generals who presided over the exit of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for instance, by promoting him to the rank of a Field Marshall, immunity from prosecution, even in his retirement and some dollar bills as send off. These two laws which scare him should also be revisited and amended.

UGANDA: GULU UNIVERSITY UNVEILS POLICY BRIEFS ON ‘TRUST’ LAND

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open space in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”

GULU-UGANDA: The Deputy Vice Chancellor and also in-coming Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Professor George Openjuru-Ladah has said the University’s Institute of Peace & Strategic Studies (IPSS) has a role to play in doing ‘participatory research’ on problems that are affecting communities in northern Uganda.

Openjuru-Ladah says through research, solutions to problems which are affecting communities can be found.

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”, observes Prof. Openjuru-Ladah.

He made these comments on Thursday, December 14, 2017, while closing a one-day workshop for the dissemination of six policy briefs research reports on land issues titled ‘Trust Land Policy Briefs’.

The researches were jointly conducted by the University’s IPSS and the Department of Anthropology-University of Copenhagen conducted in northern Uganda and the Ik community of Karamoja sub-region between 2013 and 2017.

Professor Openjuru-Ladah observed that northern Uganda is confronted with land sales in rural areas for the first time in the history of the region where young boys steal customary land to buy motorcycle taxis in order to make quick money for reckless living. He says some of the youths are claiming land given by their forefathers to institutions like schools, churches and administrative headquarters.

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open spaces in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”, says Professor Openjuru-Ladah.

The first policy brief presents findings on ‘Legal Pluralism in Land Dispute Management in Amuru, Pader and Agago districts between 2016 and 2017 where over twenty land disputes were monitored.

“Twenty years of armed conflict in northern Uganda ended formally in 2006, but the emergence and rapid escalation of land conflicts hastened hope for a peaceful return in post-war northern Uganda. These disputes continues, a decade after resettlement. These disputes are occurring in the context of a plural legal environment, where more than one institution is involved in land management”, reads part of the brief.

The second policy brief titled: “Women and Land in Acholi Sub-region: Safeguarding Rights, Promoting Access” highlights social relations between different categories of people including men, women, youth and elders who are fraught with tensions and contradictions over land matters.

“Land is the most emotive, culturally sensitive, politically volatile and economically central issue in Uganda. In northern Uganda, ninety-three per cent of land is under customary tenure and is currently marred by conflicts and social tensions”, reads part of the second brief.

The third policy brief deals with youth, livelihood and access to land in northern Uganda where a whole generation of youth has grown up in concentration camps, commonly referred to as “internally displaced persons (IDP) camps amidst poverty and insecurity without sufficient access to education and reliable services.

“Scholarly and popular attention has been focused mainly on urban youth and unemployment. There is less appreciation of the situation of rural youth and their access to land-even though the majority of young people live in rural areas and engaged in agriculture”, the third report concludes.

The forth policy brief deals with ‘Institutional Land Conflicts’ where private and public institutions such as churches, health centers, schools and local governments are facing claims on the land they occupy.

The land holding is most often not registered as the land was given as entrustment or it was a public land that belonged to the state until the Constitution of 1995.

“Evictions should not be done in haste. People should be oriented in good time about institutional plans for development and possible benefits to the community”, part of the forth policy brief recommends.

The fifth policy brief deals with ‘Conflict over Protected Areas for Wildlife Conservation in Northern Uganda’ which revealed that in Purongo, which borders Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), local people hardly value wildlife protection due to their own negative experience.

“The neighbors of MFNP and other protected areas for wildlife conservation suffer from crop raids of wild animals and particularly hungry elephants, which cross the park border and sometimes destroy the harvest of a year in a few hours, damage huts and granaries where stocks are kept, and attack, injure and even kill people”, says part of the fifth brief.

The sixth policy brief was conducted in Ik county of Karamoja sub-region which identified three land related issues affecting the Ik community since they are entirely dependent on the land and natural resources. These issues are in-migration and transgression by pastoralists and their herds, tensions between National forestry authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and investments in land by foreigners with unknown development plans.

“The Ik community, which counts around 6,000, are semi-nomadic subsistence agriculturalists and hunters-gatherers living in mountains between cattle herder groups: Turkana (Kenya) and Dodoth (Uganda), have  ambivalent relations to both groups as they sometimes plunder Ik villages, while at other times the groups trade and develop ties of friendship and trust” says part of the brief.

Below: The in-coming Vice-chancellor of Gulu university, Professor George Openjuru-Ladaah

Pro. Openyjuru-Ladah

UGANDA: ACHOLI LAYS FOUNDATION FOR IMPROVING THE MANAGEMENT OFHEALTH, EDUCATION AND LAND SECTORS

 

Rwot Acana

Acholi Cultural King, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, in one of his community meetings

“For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”

“Wang-OO was initiated by a group of youths to unite the people of Acholi.  If we don’t unite, then development cannot take place in Acholi”

KITGUM-UGANDA: After  failing to get compensated by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government of ‘Dictator and Ruler for Life’ President Yoweri Museveni, after a two-decade senseless war which destroyed the region causing millions in losses, the people of Acholi has finally come together to discuss challenges affecting post conflict recovery in Acholi sub-region.

Although  the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion ended about twelve years ago ( in 2006), the region is still walloping in poverty despite government programs like Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Program (NURP), Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and Peace, Recovery and Development Program (PRDP) which were meant to rehabilitate the region.

The World Bank reported in its 2016 annual report that in 2013, more than a third of Uganda’s citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day.

“For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”, reads part of the report.

It is on this background that about fifty youths went and met former Member of Parliament for Chua County, in Kitgum district, Mr. John Livingstone Okello-Okello on November 7, 2015, in Kiwatule a suburb of Kampala and wrote a concept paper to establish Wang-OO (bonfire) with the sole aim of helping the people who have returned home from Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDP) unite and fight poverty amongst them.

“Wang-OO was initiated by a group of youths to unite the people of Acholi.  If we don’t unite, then development cannot take place in Acholi”, says chairman of the new body, Mr. Okello-Okello.

He made these remarks on December 1, 2017, during the third meeting of all leaders, elders and civil society leaders from Acholi sub-region which was convened at Kitgum Technical Institute under the theme; “Laying a foundation for re-organizing, re-building and restoring Acholi community by improving the management of Health, Education and Land sectors”.

Mr. Okello-Okello said that donors are tired of giving money for the reconstruction of northern Uganda, where results are not reflected on the people apart from infrastructures like schools, health centers and road network.

He appealed to the community to revive the old concept of ‘self-help’ if the region wants to get out of abject poverty and develop saying, if they don’t embrace the concept then they will be mocked by other Ugandans.

“If we sit and wait for donor and government to provide us money for development, then we are in for a shock. We should embrace the old concept of self-help if we don’t want others to mock as us. We are years behind other Ugandans”, says the former legislator.

The Member of Parliament for Kitgum Municipality, Ms. Beatrice Atim Anywar, appealed to the people of Acholi to massively, plant trees on all empty land not under cultivation to avoid land grabbing for other Ugandans who think we don’t know how to utilize our land.

“Other Ugandans, who come here and see our un-cultivated land, think we don’t know how to utilize the land. The best way to prevent land grabbing is for us to plant trees on all empty land”, says Ms. Anywar.

The retired Anglican Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, Rt. Reverend Macleod Baker Ocholla IIsaid Acholi ancestors managed to protect large chunks of land from neighboring tribes by waging wars on those neighbors who infiltrate Acholi land boundaries.

“The River Nile was our natural border with the Banyoro and Madi. We went to war with the Madi people over boundaries. The Acholi warriors captured a girl from Madi and brought her here. She was given to one of the soldiers as wife. She bore a baby boy and the child was named ‘Allimadi’. You have all heard of Otema-Allimadi who was Uganda’s Prime Minister” says Bishop Ochola.

The meeting resolved that the people of Acholi should hold government accountable for the strange disease, the Nodding Syndrome whose causes are still unknown. They also resolved that all the eight district local government should enact ordinances against the sale and consumption of alcohol.

On the poor educational performance in the region, the meeting resolved to set up a special select committee to do research on why pupils and students don’t perform well in national examinations; to establish academic competitions among schools and that each clan should have an agenda to improve on education in their communities.

The Acholi cultural King, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, decried the rate at which the community is destroying the environment through massive tree cutting and wetland degradation. He appealed to local governments to implement the resolutions passed by Wang OO.