UGANDA URGED TO INVEST MORE ON CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT AGENDA AS ITS POPULATION UNDER 15 YEARS OLD REACH 50%

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School children performing during the celebration of the African Child Day

“Nearly half of Uganda’s population is now under 15 years old. A prosperous future for Uganda will not be possible without greater investment in all of its children’s development and wellbeing, so they can fulfill their potential. Together we can, and must, ensure that no child is left behind”

“Every child in Uganda has the right to survival, food and nutrition, health and shelter; to be educated; and to live safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation. This report shows Uganda has made some significant improvements in ensuring children’s rights, millions of Ugandan children are still left behind”

“You don’t have the right to sleep up to ten in the morning; you don’t have the right to refuse to go to school. Be obedient and listen to your parents and teachers. If you don’t go to school, then you will be a slave of others in your own community”

GULU-UGANDA: An International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Save the Children, has made a passionate appeal to the government of Dictator Mr. Yoweri Museveni, for greater investment in children’s development and wellbeing since a prosperous future will not be possible without them (children).

“Nearly half of Uganda’s population is now under 15 years old. A prosperous future for Uganda will not be possible without greater investment in all of its children’s development and wellbeing, so they can fulfill their potential. Together we can, and must, ensure that no child is left behind”, says Save the Children.

The NGO made this appeal in a report unveiled during celebrations to commemorate the Day of the African Child held under the theme: “Leave no Child behind for Africa’s development” at Kaunda Ground, in Gulu City, northern Uganda on Saturday, June 16, 2018.

This day has been celebrated throughout the African continent since 1991 when the Organization of African Unity (OAU), later renamed African Union (AU) initiated it; to remember the now famous Soweto (a black township in Apartheid South Africa) uprising in 1976, where more than one hundred black school children were massacred and over one thousands injured.

Save the Children releases its annual global End of Childhood Index, taking a hard look at the events that rob children of their childhoods and prevent reaching their full potential.

“Every child in Uganda has the right to survival, food and nutrition, health and shelter; to be educated; and to live safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation. This report shows Uganda has made some significant improvements in ensuring children’s rights, millions of Ugandan children are still left behind”, the report says.

Lost childhoods are increasingly concentrated among the poorest children and the parts of the country where poverty is highest and access to services is lowest. Many of these children are missing out on childhood because they are denied a fair start in life. The children from the poorest households experience the worst health, struggle to access decent education, and are more likely to have to work or be married young.

Although government has made significant progress in the health sector, many children still do not have adequate access to health care. One in four families cannot afford to visit a health facility or buy medication for sick children. In West Nile sub-region for instance, where there has been a massive influx of refugees, 80% (percent) of children there do not have appropriate access to healthcare.

Speaking as ‘Guest of Honor’, Master Griffins Lubangakene, a primary five pupil of Bright Valley Schools, called on African leaders to stop trafficking of children at high risk.

He says such children includes orphaned children, children from poor households, children out of school, children who live on the streets, children with low formal education, children living in violent households and children from separated parents.

He noted with concern, children who had to live in conflict situations in northern Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion meted untold suffering for over twenty years, and in Western Uganda, where the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operated.

“Children in conflict situations are another set of children that seem to have been left behind. Conflict in the north and west of the country had enormous impact on children’s lives. Over the past 20 years, the LRA and the ADF carried out widespread sexual and physical violence, particularly against women and girls”, says Griffins.

The Deputy Mayor of Gulu city, Ms. Pauline Lukwayi, appealed to government to recruit more teachers to reduce teacher: pupil ration and to make sure that no child is left behind.

Ms. Rose Amono Abili, the District Secretary OF Education, Health and Social Services, promised that as Gulu district, they will continue to support the cause of children, especially the most vulnerable ones. She appealed to the children not to abuse their rights but to be focused in school.

“You don’t have the right to sleep up to ten in the morning; you don’t have the right to refuse to go to school. Be obedient and listen to your parents and teachers. If you don’t go to school, then you will be a slave of others in your own community”, says Ms. Abili.

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UGANDA: 541 MILLION CHILDREN INVOLVED IN CHILD LABOR, 70% EMPLOYED IN AGRICULTURE – ILO REPORT

karamoja gold mine

A scene from a gold mine in Karamoja- Photo by Observer

“Africa takes the biggest percentage of the 70% of the children involved in child labor in the agricultural sector, 85% of which is in Africa alone. We need to reverse this trend. The productivity of this generation lies in the children. If you play with children, you play with the moral fabrics of society as a whole”

“Globally, 541 million young workers (between the ages of 15 and 24) account for 15 percent of the world’s labor force. They sustain up to 40 percent more non-fatal occupational injuries than do adult workers (workers older than 24) and workplace hazards can even pose a threat to their lives”

“These are babies we should be carrying on our backs but they are involved in child labor. They are domestically enslaved as baby-sitters of the urban rich while others are involved in gold mining in districts like Moroto and Namayingo. Is there a future in these communities?”

GULU-UGANDA: On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Uganda joined the rest of the world in a joint global campaign which focuses on the need to end child labor and improve the safety and health of young workers.

“Globally, 541 million young workers (between the ages of 15 and 24) account for 15 percent of the world’s labor force. They sustain up to 40 percent more non-fatal occupational injuries than do adult workers (workers older than 24) and workplace hazards can even pose a threat to their lives”, reads part of the brochure for the day.

An estimated 152 million children (aged 5-17) around the world are in child labor, of which 73 million perform work which is hazardous because of its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out.

This campaign aims to accelerate actions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.8 which seeks to ‘protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environment for all workers by 2030’ and SDG Target 8.7 to ‘take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor by 2025; end child labor in all its forms’.

 

Gulu city was chosen as the venue to host this celebration; which was held under the theme: ‘Generation Safe and Healthy; End Child Labor’. This is the day the United Nations earmarked as ‘World Day Against Child Labor’.

A representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Ms. Jacqueline Adongakullu Acayo told the gathering during the celebration at Kaunda Ground, Gulu, that 541 million children between the ages of 15 to 24 years are involved in child labor worldwide where 70% (percent) are employed in agriculture.

“Africa takes the biggest percentage of the 70% of the children involved in child labor in the agricultural sector, 85% of which is in Africa alone. We need to reverse this trend. The productivity of this generation lies in the children. If you play with children, you play with the moral fabrics of society as a whole”, says Acayo.

Speaking on behalf of the chairman of Gulu district, Mr. Patrick Kinyera, warned children against misconstruing the campaign by raising up against productive works like sweeping houses and compound, fetching water, cooking, and other light works which match their age.

“We don’t want children to rise against productive works like sweeping, fetching water or cooking, but to remain focused on education. Education is relatively cheap and you can afford to pay yourself in primary school even if you are an orphan” says the councilor.

Mr. Kinyera revealed that he would not have studied and reached where he is now had it not been for the support of International Labor Organization (ILO) and being focused in school.

He says the biggest percentage of the district budget goes to the education sector and that the district was the first district in the country to come out with an anti-alcohol ordinance because they realize that sachet alcohol was destroying school going youths and making them unproductive.

State minister for Gender, Labor and Social Development, Ms. Peace Mutuuzo, revealed that 2.5 million children, out of the 40 million Ugandans are children who are involved in child labor. She says 1.2 million of those children are aged 5-13 years old.

“These are babies we should be carrying on our backs but they are involved in child labor. They are domestically enslaved as baby-sitters of the urban rich while others are involved in gold mining in districts like Moroto and Namayingo. Is there a future in these communities?” says Minister Mutuuzo.

She appealed to the people of northern Uganda to stop lamenting but utilize the abundant fertile land to grow food to feed the market in East Africa like Kenya, South Sudan and DRC. She warned the leaders to be careful of faith-based organizations involved in child trafficking.

 

 

UGANDA: NORTH NEEDS $500,000 FOR QUICK ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFER

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Acholi Economic Conference (AEC) in progress

 “If we want to develop economically, then we need to embrace technology in farming. Farming without technology will not take us far. Use your smart phones to reach out onto the world to access market and innovation”

“If we do that, then we can remove our people from poverty because of small scale subsistence farming, where land use is minimal with the use hand-hoes, to middle income status since they can now open more land”

“This is exploitation in the highest order. In the West, they call sesame ‘white gold’. Its oil is the one they use for sending rockets into space. No peasant farmer should sell next season’s sesame at less than shs.8000 (less than $2.2 dollars) a kilogram. I am going to take this campaign to the peasant farmer in every village”

GULU-UGANDA: A participant at a two-days Acholi Economic Conference has called for an investment of $500,000 US dollars in the production/manufacture of ox-ploughs locally, if the sub-region is to recover economically from the effect of the over twenty-year long Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.

Mr. George Ocaya, an agricultural Engineer, says if a plant to produce ox-ploughs is established in Gulu, then he and other engineers will produce at least 5,000 ox-ploughs each year to help farmers.

“If we do that, then we can remove our people away from poverty because of small scale subsistence farming, where land use is minimal in with use of hand-hoes, to middle income status since they can now open more land” Mr. Ocaya says.

This conference was held in the Multi-purpose hall of Gulu Senior Secondary School from Friday May 25 to Saturday May 26, 2018.

The brain behind this conference is a London based Economist Mr. Walter Atiko. He says he was inspired to organize the conference following the successful launch of ‘Acholi Cultural Festival’ in November 2017; which was organized by the Acholi Cultural Institution.

Mr. Atiko says he decided to return home and initiate Acholi Economic Conference (AEC) because the whites were exploiting African continent economically.

“If we want to develop economically, then we need to embrace technology in farming. Farming without technology will not take us far. Use your smart phones to reach out onto the world to access market and innovation”, says Mr. Atiko.

He revealed that the oil extracted from ‘organic sesame’ (simsim), an agro produce from northern Uganda, is being procured at peanut prices from peasant farmers in northern Uganda when it is the one the whites are using to drive rockets into space.

“This is exploitation in the highest order. In the West, they call sesame ‘white gold’. Its oil is the one they use for sending rockets into space. No peasant farmer should sell next season’s sesame at less than shs.8000 (less than $2.2 dollars) a kilogram. I am going to take this campaign to the peasant farmer in every village”, says Atiko.

A Presidential Advisor on agriculture, Professor Dr. John Joseph Otim, appealed to the Acholi Community in the Diaspora to transfer their skills and knowledge they acquired from abroad for the reconstruction and development of war ravaged north.

“The time is now, for you to transfer the skills and knowledge you acquired from abroad to develop and we reconstruct our economy together so that we create wealth to our people”, says Professor Otim.

He calls for the practice of ‘climate smart agriculture’ where we look at all the chains of production from ‘soil to fork’ to increase household income; and the people of Acholi cannot do this unless they are united for a purpose and involving women in development issues.

The chairman of Wang OO, Mr. John Livingstone Okello Okello proposed for the establishment of ‘Acholi Investment/Development Bank’ to help farmers with soft loans since there is currently no commercial bank which is friendly to farmers in Uganda.

He decried the current sale of sachet alcohol (waragi), which he says is destroying the youths who should be in the production of wealth.

The Gulu district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi appealed to the people of Acholi to stop burying themselves in the past glory without realizing that the world has changed and that things are no longer the same as it was in the past.

“Sometimes we bury ourselves in the past; but things are no longer the same. We have failed to understand how the world has changed. We are likely to fail”, says the chairman.

 

 

UGANDA: ACHOLI CALLS FOR ‘INTERNATIONAL ACTIONS’ AGAINST PERPETRATORS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Justice Galdino

Retired Judge, Galdino Okello, reading the Acholi communiqué

“We the people of Acholi sub-region assembled at Ker Kwaro Acholi on May 27, 2018 condemn in the strongest terms possible the continued violations of Human Rights on the people of Apaa, Amuru district which is being perpetrated by state security agents”

“We state that the continued eviction of the Acholi people from their land in Apaa and destruction of lives and property is unacceptable. We are conscious that our human rights are inherent and not granted by the State and that the same is protected by both national and international law”

“If the people of Acholi cannot unite to protect their land, then they will become ‘extinct like indigenous Americans in the twenty-first century”

GULU-UGANDA: The people of Acholi has called for International actions against Uganda security forces which is accused of killing at least 14 innocent civilians, two missing, displaced 4, 684 households and at least 519 grass thatched huts burnt with household items to ashes in disputed Apaa village, Amuru district.

The disputed 826 square kilometers piece of land is home to at least 26,686 people mostly Acholi peasant farmers but is being claimed by neighboring Adjumani district that it is part of East Madi Game Reserve under the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

In a fully charged meeting on Sunday, May 27, 2018, held at Acholi Kingdom headquarters in Gulu, the people resolved to call for the ‘attention of the international community to be drawn to the gross violations of human rights happening in Apaa to enable appropriate international law mechanisms to be actioned against perpetrators’.

“We the people of Acholi sub-region assembled at Ker Kwaro Acholi on May 27, 2018 condemn in the strongest terms possible the continued violations of Human Rights on the people of Apaa, Amuru district which is being perpetrated by state security agents.”, the preamble to the two-page communiqué reads in parts.

According to Mr. John Oryem-Akidi, the Rwot Kweri, the smallest administrative unit of peasants, the affected people are enduring heave rain and cold night as all their houses are burnt to ashes.

“We appeal to the International community to come to our rescue as soon as possible. We need shelter, food, medicine and utensils now as we sleep in the open. It is worst when it is raining, this being rainy season”, says Oryem on phone from Apaa on Monday evening.

The people refuted claims that the current conflict which evicted the people from their land and began more than a year ago, is not ‘inter-tribal conflict since the two neighbors, Acholi and Madi, ‘have lived together harmoniously since time immemorial’.

“We state that the continued eviction of the Acholi people from their land in Apaa and destruction of lives and property is unacceptable. We are conscious that our human rights are inherent and not granted by the State and that the same is protected by both national and international law”, the communiqué reads.

The people demanded that the ‘Government of Uganda stops forthwith these wanton and inhuman attacks by state security agents and the immediate withdrawal of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), the Police and Game Rangers from Apaa’.

They also demanded that ‘the President of the Republic of Uganda to come and address the people of  Acholi and give assurance of the Government’s commitment to resolve this matter peacefully taking into consideration the rights of the people of Apaa’.

They say ‘the Government should respect the court order stopping further eviction issued on February 15, 2012 by the Gulu High Court, and that Government officials who have violated the court order must be held for Contempt of Court’.

The people tasked Acholi traditional leaders to ‘lead efforts to protect Acholi land’ and that ‘legal efforts must be put in place to ‘enforce and protect the rights of the people of Apaa and Acholi solidified and a team of competent lawyers to be assembled to litigate this matter in the interest of the Acholi people’.

The people also demanded that Government must put in place ‘an effective compensation scheme to compensate the people of Apaa who have lost lives and properties’ and that the ‘next meeting concerning the Apaa matter be held at Apaa in solidarity with the people of Apaa’.

This communiqué was signed by Acholi Cultural leader, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, the chairperson of Acholi religious leaders, Archbishop Dr. John Baptists Odama, Wang OO chairperson, Mr. John Livingstone Okellookello and Secretary of Acholi parliamentarians, Mr. Gilbert Olanya.

“If the people of Acholi cannot unite to protect their land, then they will become ‘extinct like indigenous Americans in the twenty-first century”, says Mr. Okellookello.

UGANDA: NORTHERN REGION TRAILS AS CENTRAL TOPS IN ADMISSIONS TO GOVERNMENT UNIVERSITIES

Gulu University graduation

 Some Gulu university students on their graduation day

“Tackling inequality is a political imperative for the government, if we are to move to the Middle Income economy. There is a great need for social fairness and economic efficiency. Inequalities hampers growth and undermines social cohesion by curbing opportunities for lower but also middle income class”

“This is a glaring fact. It is further evidence that development programs are not being spread equally across all regions of the country deliberately. I have been sounding this warning since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came to power in 1986, but Ugandans have been sleeping ever since. They must wake up”

GULU-UGANDA: Government universities in Uganda have started admitting students who passed the 2017 Uganda Advance Certificate of Education (UACE) very well on direct entrance, where government pays for all their expenses.

In northern region, there are only 6 out of 2,730 students who qualified for government scholarships who were actually admitted on government sponsorship, that is; they scored at least two principle passes-the minimum requirement for university admission.

4 students from St. Joseph’s College, Layibi in Gulu and 2 students from Dr. Obote College, Boroboro in Lira, were the only lucky ones who secured the government sponsored admission.

This represents 0.09% (percent) of all who sat for the  Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education examinations from northern Uganda numbering (6,017) and 0.22% (percent) of all those who qualified to join university education are (2,730) respectively.

1,506 got only one principle pass, but are qualified to join other tertiary institutions for Diploma courses, before they can eventually join university with the diploma they have attained.

Only 93 students in northern region failed to get one principle pass out of the 6,017 who sat  the examination. This is only 1.55% (percent) of the total number who sat.

The admission lists for those who will be admitted on the district quarter system, in which government also pays fees on affirmative action, is not yet out. A few more will be admitted out of this 0.22% (percent) who passed; meaning that the number of students from northern Uganda,who will get government sponsorship will increase.

In central region alone, however, a total of 37,579 students passed and qualified for government sponsorship. Out of these, a single school, St. Mary’s Secondary School Kitende, managed to send 197 students to the various universities, representing 0.52% of those who passed from central region.

Other schools which topped admission lists from central region include Uganda Martyrs’, Namugongo with (98 students), Seeta High School with (72 students) while  Mengo Secondary School secured (71 slots).

12,155 students from Western Uganda and 8,395 students from Eastern Uganda qualified for admissions to universities. Statistics of those who will get government sponsorships from those regions was not readily available.

On March 30, 2017, Uganda’s independent newspaper, The Daily Monitor quoted Oxfam as saying  10% (percent) of Ugandans, whose income is growing at 20% (percent) per year, own 35.7% (percent) of the country’s wealth, meanwhile, 90% (percent) of Ugandan’s share the 64.7% (percent) of the national wealth, as their income dwindles by 21% (percent).

The poorest 20% (percent) of Ugandans earn a meager 5.8% (percent) of the national income annually.

“Tackling inequality is a political imperative for the government, if we are to move to a middle income economy. There is a great need for social fairness and economic efficiency. Inequalities hamper growth and undermines social cohesion, by curbing opportunities for lower and middle income earners”, says Ms. Irene Ovonji Odida, the Executive Director of Women Lawyers Association-FIDA Uganda.

At the peak of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda, several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supported poor parents, who could not send their children to school, by sponsoring thousands through secondary education, including university education.

Organizations like Invisible Children, World Vision, Windle Trust; Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE), Acholi Education Initiative (AEI) and Gulu Save the Children Organization (GUSCO) helped in filling the gaps, where parents lacked resources.

Between 2005 and 2014, Invisible Children sponsored at least 1,761 students to secondary schools and 418 others attained university education with their support.

Glaring disparity worries leaders

According to the former president of Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) Dr. Olara-Otunnu, this disparity is a deliberate attempt by the dictator of 32-years, President Yoweri Museveni, to under-develop northern Uganda, which he is now implementing effectively.

“This is a glaring fact. It is further evidence, that development programs are not being spread across all regions of the country deliberately. I have been sounding this warning since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came to power in 1986, but Ugandans have been sleeping ever since. They must wake up”,  Otunnu says.

The woman Member of Parliament for Gulu district, Ms. Betty Aol Ocan says she will raise this disparity on the floor of parliament as a matter of national importance as soon as she gets all the disparity facts right.

UGANDA: LEGISLATOR EMBARKS ON TREE PLANTING TO SAVE NATURAL FORESTS AND MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

Onen Pope

Mr. Pope Onen (L) demonstrates how to plant pine trees

“I advised him to go to a training institution other than opting for university education simply because I cannot afford to pay him at university, unless a miracle happens. I have six other children to pay and I cannot spend all my income on one child”

“Our neighbor, South Sudan, is now a semi desert and we shall face the same conditions here in northern Uganda if we don’t control tree cutting and replace cut ones by planting more trees. Without trees, crops cannot thrive well and there will be no rainfall”

“There is a big deficit and it is evident when one takes any direction from Kampala. The land is bare and the effects of climate change are more felt due to the absence of tree cover”

GULU-UGANDA: Mr. Patrick Okeny, a forty-year old teacher at Bwobo Tocci Primary School in Ongako sub-county in Omoro district in northern Uganda, sees no hope of sending his twenty-year old son, Okello Ivan, to university because he can’t simply afford to.

Ivan, who is offering Arts subjects at St. Mary’s College, Lacor in Amuru district, is sitting his ‘A’ level exams this year. He also has six other siblings who are below him in school.

“I advised him to go to a training institution other than opting for university education simply because I cannot afford to pay him at university, unless a miracle happens. I have six other children to pay and I cannot spend all my income on one child” says Patrick.

Mr. Patrick, who has only one-acre piece of land at Kati-Kati Central village, Lacor in Amuru district, plans to plant two hundred orange and pine seedlings on his land as a measure to mitigate poverty and be able to send some of his younger children to university when these trees mature.

Mr. Okeny is one of the over three hundred people of Kilak South parliamentary constituency who turned up on Monday, May 7, 2018 at Lacor Primary School to register for free seedlings, purchased and being distributed by the area Member of Parliament, Mr. Gilbert Olanya.

“The soil I have is very good for oranges and pine trees. I will plant some of the seedlings I will get from my Member of Parliament in my mother’s one-and-half acre piece of land in the same village since I don’t have enough land. I hope to get enough money to pay fees for my children up to university from the sale of my orange fruits when they mature” says Patrick.

On this particular day, Mr. Olanya launched afforestation campaign in his constituency under the theme: “Yen Aye Lonyo: Ka Itongo Acel, Myero Ipit Abic Mukene”, meaning ‘Trees is Prosperity: If You Cut One, Plant Five Others’, during which he intends to supply 10,000 seedlings per year to the community of Kilak South for the next ten years.

The beneficiaries are supposed to procure additional 10,000 or more seedlings yearly, to add onto the few that they will have got from the legislator.

He says he is responding to the real threat of desertification as a result of the indiscriminate cutting down of trees for charcoal burring, and timber lumbering currently going on in the region, whose action has triggered adverse effect on climate and rainfall reliability.

“Our neighbor, South Sudan, is now a semi desert and we shall face the same conditions here in northern Uganda if we don’t control tree cutting and replace cut ones by planting more trees. Without trees, crops cannot thrive well and there will be no rainfall”, says the legislator.

Deserts are typically defined by low average annual rainfall-usually 100 millimeters (less than four inches) of rain per year.

According to a study conducted by researcher from the University of Maryland, the Sahara desert has expanded by about ten percent (10%) since 1920.

The report, which was published online on March 29, 2018 in the Journal of Climate, says the expansion is caused by human caused climate change and natural climate cycles such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

The State owned New Vision newspaper reported on October 17, 2017, that Uganda’s forest cover reduces by 100,000 hectares annually.

Forest cover stands at 3.6 million hectares, representing 15% (percent) of the total land area.

The director of environment in the ministry of Water & Environment, Mr. Paul Mafabi, says Uganda has lost over one million hectares of forest cover over the last ten years, yet the government has planted less than 150,000 hectares.

“There is a big deficit and it is evident when one takes any direction from Kampala. The land is bare and the effects of climate change are more felt due to the absence of tree cover”, says Mr. Mafabi.

According to IRIN, Gulu initially had 371 square kilometers of forest cover, but environmentalists estimate the cover to be only 200 square kilometers. This reduction is caused by charcoal burning, human settlement as well as quest to open up land for cultivation.

95% (percent) of Ugandans depend on charcoal and wood fuel. This, plus rapid population growth and urbanization, has increased the demand for energy for fuel.

The chairperson of the Uganda Forestry Working Group-Northern chapter, Mr. Pope Onen, says it is not bad per se to cut down natural forest for fuel, but the problem is that they don’t cut it correctly; which does not allow it to grow again.

“They don’t cut it correctly. You have to leave a one-foot stump, cut it at an angle in order to allow it to sprout again. The charcoal traders are doing it wrongly. It is not sustainable at all”, says Mr. Pope.

Mr. Olanya appeals to the people in his constituency to drive away poverty through massive tree planting.

“By planting trees, you will drive away poverty, be able to build iron-sheet houses instead of grass thatched houses and pay your children in university”, says the legislator.

 

 

 

UGANDA: ‘CRITICAL JOURNALISM UNDER ATTACK’; UGANDA WORSE THAN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC –REPORTS

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Members of NUMEC cleaning the palace of their King, Rwot David Onen-Acana II

Uganda has enjoyed relative peace in the last ten years without rebel activities. However, it is still ranked number 117 out of 180 countries making it worse off than war-ravaged Central African Republic (CAR), which is placed at number 112 by RSF.

“Journalists are often the victims of intimidation, physical violence and arrests… Investigative reporting is very risky in Africa. Journalists are encountering growing difficulties when covering subjects with national security ramifications”

GULU-UGANDA: The media fraternity, world over, celebrated ‘World Press Freedom Day’ last Thursday, May 3, 2018 under the theme: ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law’. This year, the main celebration was held in Ghana’s capital City, Accra, in West Africa.

Every year, various organizations release press index reports indicating how the media faired in its work and the kind of challenges they faced the previous year.

‘Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’ released the 2017 index just before the commemoration in Accra, Ghana; which country featured in number 23 out of 180 countries surveyed by RSF.

The report analysis indicates that in Africa, only media practitioners in Ghana enjoy relative freedom in the course of their work compared to other countries in the continent.

Ghana is followed by South Africa in the 28th position while Burkina Faso is in the third position at 41st. Sweden is in the first position where the media practitioners have the best working environment while North Korea trails as the worst working environment for journalists in the world.

Uganda has enjoyed relative peace in the last ten years without rebel activities. However, it is still ranked number 117 out of 180 countries making it worse off than in war-ravaged Central African Republic (CAR), which is placed at number 112 by RSF.

The report puts Uganda below its original East African Community (EAC) member- countries, Tanzania and Kenya; which are at number 93 and 96 respectively.

The latest country to join the block, battle hardened South Sudan is ranked at number 144 making it better to be a journalist in than Rwanda, at number 156 or Burundi, at number 159.

“Journalists are often the victims of intimidation, physical violence and arrests… Investigative reporting is very risky in Africa. Journalists are encountering growing difficulties when covering subjects with national security ramifications”, reads part of RSF report.

In Uganda, Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ-U) also released its 9th report since 2009 titled: ‘Critical Journalism Under Attack’ where it documented cases perpetrated against journalists and media houses in 2017.

The year 2016 and 2017 have been littered with various politically charged national agendas touching on proposals to amend land laws and remove the presidential age limit from 75 years’ cap paving way for Uganda’s dictator who has ruled this country with an iron fist, to rule for life.

The analysis also raises a red flag on the increasing unfettered powers of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) which is on an unprecedented course of restricting rather than regulating freedom of expression and media rights as exemplified in its various orders in 2017.

HRNJ-U documented 113 cases of violations and abuses against media fraternity in 2017 with Police as the worst violator of free press with 83 cases, representing 73% (percent). The force made 45 arrests and detentions, 21 cases of assault and 7 cases of malicious damage to journalists’ equipments. Abuse on female journalists stood at 13 cases representing 12% (percent).

Although Article 41 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution guarantees ‘right to access to information in the possession of the State and ‘to freedom of expression’, the country still has other laws which restrict or curtail those rights.

Laws like Computer misuse Act 2011, Uganda Communications Commission Act as Amended in 2016, Penal Code Act, Anti- Terrorism Act 2002 plus numerous others are not friendly to freedom of press and expression.

In northern Uganda, the media fraternity under their umbrella organization, the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC), held pre-event day activity by cleaning the palace of Acholi Kingdom and had breakfast with Acholi Chief, Rwot David Onen-Acana.

Rwot Acana complained that issues related to northern Uganda is not getting desired coverage as is the case with central Uganda.

They also held talk-shows in various radio stations in Gulu sensitizing the community on the critical role of the media in community transformation and development.

During a public dialogue which was held in the Gulu district council hall on Thursday, May 3, 2018, the Secretary General of NUMEC, Mr. Arthur Okot  advised those who view the media as a threat ‘to know that professional journalism benefits all; it empowers the public through access to timely information; and it holds those with power accountable’.

“On this World Press Freedom Day, I want to say that the media, the public and those who hold power are supposed to have mutual respect for each other in order to serve the public interest. Members of NUMEC should practice professional journalism to check power and promote justice and the rule of law”, says Mr. Okot.