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OFWONO OPONDO: Parish Development Model Campaign for Rural Transformation

Ofwono Opondo

Last week government kicked off mobilization for the Parish Development Model (PDM) starting with Bukedi sub-region, one of the poorest according to the latest figures from the National Bureau of Standards (UBOS). The districts include Tororo, Busia, Bataleja, Kibuku, Budaka, Butebo and Pallisa where most households with an average of seven people subsist in crop and livestock on less than four acres of land without meaningful commercial productivity. It’s hoped that the PDM will take planning; budgeting, implementation and supervision of public policy much closer to those 68% rural households outside formal money economy to boost the sluggish socio-economic transformation agenda.

Next financial year, shillings 100m (25,000USD) is earmarked for each of the 10,000 parishes countrywide. This shift comes against the backdrop of earlier models of Entandikwa, Bonnabagagawale, Zoning, Four acre, Youth Livelihood and Women Fund, Sub county, Operation Wealth Creation, and Emyooga whose collective performance have been very limited. WF and YLF will be phased out. Out of 100M/=, youth and women run enterprises respectively have 30% ring-faced while PWDs, and the elderly 10% each while 20% goes to the rest and administration. Over the years NRM has implemented rafts of programs to fight poverty, reduce gross inequality, because socio-economic transformation, and spread prosperity, yet fast progress seem very limited, and in some households stagnation or retrogression is evident.

Although NRM has rebuilt a vibrant state, it hasn’t hit a decisive blow to poverty and social despondency. Consumer goods are plenty but there isn’t much creativity, innovation, and productivity at the household levels for sustained shared prosperity. Political and administrative leaders in districts should be made to sign pledges to get this job done and those who fail in their obligations be replaced. They must foster a stronger sense of responsibility by making wealth creation their main focus.

While Uganda is stable and secure which is vital for policy continuity, it’s evident that there’s extreme laxity as individual beneficiaries, government functionaries and other stakeholders across board have abdicated even the most basic responsibilities and commitment as they should. Also, we haven’t taken strategic and targeted poverty fight to create wealth at the local levels by improving effectiveness of programs. With the parish now mooted, all the other programs targeting households and rural communities should be harmonized to remove wastage.

The measures should include accurate identification of the poor, target programs, efficient capital utilization, hiring local officials based on village conditions and achieving set goals, rather than just distributing money or inputs as currently done. We must identify the targets, determine who will carry out the work and how, and have a clear exit mechanism for successful beneficiaries. We should return to the zoning model that didn’t take off and adopt it for different sub-counties or parishes according to specific conditions to effectively address the root causes of failures.

To win against poverty, personnel should be focused, capable, committed and motivated to guide rural communities in their daily struggles. Both NRM and opposition parties claim to have large numbers of activists in rural areas, yet there is very limited success in actualizing wealth creation even among their leaders. The fundamental solution is for rural areas to rely on their own people and officials. There is need to make the training of those engaged in wealth creation at lower levels a top priority. We should also make this training rotational so as to transfer experience from successful areas to those yet to achieve.

The methods of training should vary from level to level, region to region, and highlight different priorities. Training of officials at district level should focus at enhancing their thinking, understanding and instilling the sense of responsibility of their duty, it should aim at targeted wealth creation models and improve their analytical ability to overcome tough challenges. Training for officials at lower levels should focus on raising their capability to deal with practical problems by adopting methods on case-by-case basis, on-the-spot learning in local business and entrepreneurial models.

We must build and foster an uncompromising contingent of officials proficient in targeted wealth creation measures and standards. There’s need to create incentives for people with varied sets of skills including university graduates, retired public servants and those who have worked or done business in towns to return to rural areas to participate in wealth creation through innovation, business start-ups, or serve as village officials on contract.

People living in poverty should be the target of this fight to graduate into prosperity, and greater emphasis should be put in self-motivation to pull up. There is need to improve methods of assistance from handouts to job opportunities, work allowance, and subsidies for those who achieve beyond set targets. We should provide better education and guidance, push people to follow examples of role models in their areas through regular publicity activities. Village rules and gatherings should be used to spread financial literacy, saving, investment and entrepreneurial ethics and culture. The experience during Covid19 should help people shun outmoded and wasteful practices during traditional ceremonies especially to unburden the poor who usually spend so much time and resources.

Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at editorial@watchdoguganda.com

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