“The untold plight of the people of Northern Uganda”.
GULU-UGANDA: An International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), ActionAid, has called upon the government of Uganda to develop customized agricultural extension delivery framework to address post-conflict farming needs of the communities of northern and northeastern Uganda.
In a press release dated February 25, 2016, the NGO said there is need to improve transparency and quality of public service delivery in the north and northeastern Uganda, an area devastated by over two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion, so that people can have dignified life.
“The insurgency from the LRA conflict and cattle rustling by the Karimojong which were characterized by brutal acts, total destruction and interruption of effective delivery of public services, destruction of property and social economic activities which conditioned a huge fraction of the population to live in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps with little or no access to essential public services”, the statement reads in part.
ActionAid is an International NGO whose primary aim is to work against poverty and injustice worldwide. It was established in 1972 and is working in 45 countries worldwide, assisting some 15 million people. Its vision is to have “a world without poverty in which every person can exercise their right to a life of dignity”.
In the press release, ActionAid notes that although the level of poverty in Uganda has declined from 56% in 1992 to 24.5% in 2009/10, the poverty decline has not been experienced uniformly across the country with majority of people from northern Uganda still living in abject poverty.
“Regional imbalances persist with northern Uganda lagging behind the rest of Uganda, the lackluster progress in the northern Uganda has been attributed to the thwarted economic activity and limited service delivery that has further widened the regional disparities between the north and the rest of the country”, it says.
The government of Uganda implemented affirmative action development programs for northern Uganda-the Peace Recovery and Development Programs (PRDP), the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and the Northern Uganda Agricultural Livelihood Recovery Program (ALREP) to enable the region catch up with the rest of Uganda economically.
However, in spite of this heavy investment in the region, challenges have persisted in the key sectors of education, health, agriculture, roads, and water & sanitation. Northern Uganda has the highest illiteracy rate (36%) in Uganda and there is a mismatch with over emphasis on heavy investment in building physical infrastructure at the expense of software aspects such as addressing psycho-social needs of the people.
“ActionAid, together with the people of Northern Uganda ,demand that the government of Uganda establishes a new delivery and implementation mechanisms for PRDP III and NUSAF III to address challenges that bogged the implementation of the earlier programs for greater impact”, the press released says.
It calls on government to stop land grabbing in northern Uganda, which is disguised as compulsory acquisition of land for development/investment, with immediate effect. It also appealed for the government to establish a fund to address socio-economic and infrastructural challenges in post-conflict north beyond the affirmative action programs and to decentralize planning, budgeting and implementation of northern Uganda affirmative action programs.
“We call upon citizens, local government leadership and people of northern Uganda to monitor and track progress of the implementation of PRDP III, NUSAF III and other government programs and hold their leaders accountable”, concludes the release.
The Woman Member of Parliament for Gulu district, Ms. Betty Aol Ocan, decried the level of corruption in government programs which reduce the level of impact of the community.
“Corruption in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has reduced the impact of PRDP. PRDP I and II did not measure up to expectations of our people”, she says.