Women threaten to undress over funds

Wednesday December 12 2018

A man counting money recently. Women in Abim

A man counting money recently. Women in Abim District, who have been waiting to benefit from the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP), have appealed to President Museveni to come to their rescue after the funds meant for them were allegedly stolen. MONITOR/FILE PHOTO  

By Steven Ariong

ABIM. Women in Abim District, who have been waiting to benefit from the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP), have appealed to President Museveni to come to their rescue after the funds meant for them were allegedly stolen.

Ms Grace Awili, one of the intended beneficiaries, told Daily Monitor that none of the 10 women groups that had been set to benefit from UWEP funds has received the money.
“This is too much and we cannot wait any longer. We are asking the President to do something so that the money is handed over to the groups. As poor women we are going to march half-dressed to the district headquarters to show our dissatisfaction with the district,” Ms Awili said.

The women say they have been waiting in vain since March, claiming they are aware that Shs108m was disbursed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to improve their livelihood but it has never been released by the district officials.
UWEP is a government scheme arising from a presidential initiative aimed at improving access to financial services for women and equipping them with skills to do value addition and marketing of their products and services.

Investigation
On September 27, the programme officer UWEP East, Mr Michael Onyait, said he had received several complaints and asked the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, to follow up on the money.
Mr Hashaka confirmed that no group has received the money adding that it could have been stolen.

“I went to deputy CAO, Mr Donato Oola Olam, to find out where the money is and he told me it was sent to production department account. When I went to the production department, there was no money on the account,” he said.
However, this week Mr Onyait, he said the money was sent to Abim District in March but wondered why it had not yet reached the beneficiaries.
Mr Olam declined to comment on the matter saying he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“In protocol and guidelines, l am not authorised to speak to the media without clearance from Chief Administrative Officer,” he said.
However, Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, said if the money has indeed been misappropriated, the CAO, who is the accounting officer, would be compelled to pay it back.

Background
In November, district leaders diverted money amounting to Shs2b meant to fund government projects.
Mr Mpimbaza Hasaka, the Abim RDC, also confirmed that 87 per cent of government-funded projects in the district have remained incomplete.

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