Butaleja Dsitrict: From troubling starvation to top rice producer

Rice gardens for outgrowers at Doho Rice Scheme . Photo by David Mafabi

BUTALEJA- Many people associate the district with rice growing. However, there is more to Butaleja than the expansive Doho Rice Scheme.

Butaleja is a district in eastern Uganda. It’s named after its main town of Butaleja, where the district headquarters is located.

Butaleja as a district is only eight years old. It was created from the greater Tororo District in July 2005.

Once an embarrassment for Tororo due to its high number of deaths resulting from starvation, today the district stands tall with a five-fold increase in rice production since 2006.

It is currently ranked fourth highest rice producing district according to statistics at the agriculture ministry.

Administratively, Butaleja District is made up of 10 sub-counties of Mazimasa, Budumba, Himutu, Naweyo, Busolwe, Busabi, Kachonga, Butaleja, Busaba, Nawanjofu and two town councils of Butaleja and Busolwe.

Population: According to the National Census of 2002, Butaleja District had an estimated population of 157,500. The annual population growth rate in the district is 3.3 per cent. Using those statistics, it is estimated that the population of Butaleja in 2010 is approximately 204,300 people.

Economic activities: Rice growing is by far the major economic activity since it doubles as both food and cash crop. Butaleja is predominantly an agricultural district with about 95 per cent of the population involved in this activity.
Rice growing gained prominence in 1970s, following the establishment of Doho Rice Scheme by government. The scheme was set up for commercial rice growing.Today, it is dominated by rural small-scale farmers living in areas adjacent to wetlands.
Although the soils in the area have largely been described as sandy and are characterised by low organic content, the Doho Wetland is an important ecological flood plain for River Manafwa from the highlands of Bugisu where the fertile clay and volcanic soils are got.

The view of many farmers is that agricultural utilisation of wetlands could be improved. It is, therefore, perceived as a prudent solution to their ever increasing demand for farmland.

Doho Rice Scheme has more than 2,500 acres of land and more than 9,000 farmers involved as both out-growers and part of the scheme growers.

Besides, the district is also involved in subsistence agriculture. The crops grown include: millet, maize, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, rice, cotton, ground nuts, cassava, sorghum with a few people keeping livestock and poultry.

The increasing population drives people to clear more trees to obtain alternative sources of livelihood as they begin to experience effects of climatic change like longer and hotter dry seasons and increase in tropical diseases. They have shallow wells and boreholes as water sources for household use and for their livestock but hardly any for supplementary irrigation.

Primary schools: There are 111 primary schools, 18 secondary schools and four tertiary institutions distributed in all the 64 parishes that make up the 12 sub-counties of Butaleja.
Each of the 64 parishes has at least one primary school and every sub-county has a secondary school.

Number of children: There are 109,290 Children in the district of which 42,397 are vulnerable children with 12,761 being Orphans. A number of Civil Society Organisations are implementing Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) interventions in the district and these include; World Vision International, Child Fund and UWESOThere are 2,556 OVCs.
The literacy rate is 64 per cent.

Big players in Butaleja

Capt Martha Asiimwe. She is the Resident District Commissioner who is also the dean of RDCs in Uganda. She has promised to monitor and supervise all government programmes to make sure people benefit from it.

Edinan Wasoko Is a prominent businessman in Butaleja dealing in rice. He says in order for Butaleja to develop and benefit from its district status, leaders should not be involved in corruption.

Jacob Wangolo. He is the Bunyole West MP who says his aim is to improve education, health, agriculture and roads among others through revival of communal work. Mr Wangolo has started extending electricity using the government’s rural electrification programme.

Moses Hiire. He is the District Speaker. He believes the district is on the right track and adds that more hard work is required to achieve desired goals.

Hirome Girisomu is an educationist.

Sam Were Hibinga was the first interim LC 5 Chairman for Butaleja. He is an educationist, one of the first graduates from Butaleja. He is also a politician and worked as a secretary for education in Tororo.

Shephatia Wabweyo Agumira. He is a businessman based in Busolwe Town Council. He was a strong advocate for a break-away from Tororo District, saying they were missing a lot of services, especially in terms of development.

She is the district Woman Member of Parliament who recently succeeded her younger sister Cerinah Nebanda (RIP). She is still promising to complete her sister’s projects in education and health.

Felista Namwihiri contested for the Butaleja District Woman MP by-election on the FDC party ticket. She is a strong advocate of development.

Joyce Mirembe is the district councillor representing people with disabilities. She believes the district is doing well and calls upon leaders to implement government policies.

Juliet Nabwire is one of the most ardent Forum for Democratic Change supporters in the district who also contested for Butaleja Woman MP by-election.

Rev Canon Dickens Jackson Juma. He is the Archdeacon for Bunyole. He advises people to always put God first in whatever they do in order to achieve what they want.

Sheikh Muniru Batuka. He is the acting district Kadhi of Butaleja. He has been advocating for unity among muslims.

Hajji Alumasi Hasiyo is the district NRM chairperson for the elderly league. He was formerly serving on the Tororo District Service Commision.

Emmanuel Dombo Lumala has served for four terms as the Bunyole County Member of Parliament.

Abdu Waweyo Mudenya is the assistant chief adminstrative officer.

Jackline Nankoma is the district Information officer for Butaleja.

Joseph Muyonjo is the LC5 chairman of Butaleja District. He is determined to fight corruption to ensure that people get good services.

Allen Wegulo. She is a social worker in Butaleja District. She is a former contestant for Butaleja Woman MP. She says that for a district to develop, all people must be involved in the development process.

Abdu Waweyo Mudenya is the assistant chief adminstrative officer.

Joseph Muyonjo is the LC5 chairman of Butaleja District. He is determined to fight corruption to ensure that people get good services.

Patrick Wafula Guloba is a former district education officer and a Head teacher. He is a strong advocate for the increaset of teachers’ pay.

Alice Namulwa is the mother of the woman MP Florence Andiru Nebanda. She is a prominent business woman in Butaleja owning a number of businesses from petrol stations to trading shops. She became vocal after the death of her daughter Cerinah Nebanda.

Phillip Kalyebbi: He is the District Education Officer in Butaleja.

Dorothy Samali Hyuha: She is an educationist and politician who joined the Parliament in 1996, as Woman MP for Tororo District, a post she held until 2006. After Butaleja District was curved out of Tororo District in 2005, Ms Hyuha contested for the Parliamentary seat of Women’s Representative for Butaleja District and went ahead to become the minister Without Portfolio and deputy secretary general of NRM party. She and her husband are the proprietors of Yeffe School in Seeta. She is referred to as “the lioness of Butaleja.’ Hyuha is determined to transform Butaleja from a rural subsistence economy to a modern commercial district. She is currently the Ugandan ambassador to Dar es Salaam.

Alex Wabwire: He is the district police commander. He says the crime rate in Butaleja District has reduced compared to the time he started work. He says murder, defilement, rape, and other crimes that used to be reported every week, has now changed to one in every two months. He says this has been possible through community policing that was introduced in all police stations and at every village.

Sam Taata: He is the acting district planner. He says the district has approved a budget of Shs17.7 billion for the financial year 2013/2014 for its development. He adds that the strategic priority action for the financial year 2013/14 budget is to improve health care and sanitation, access to safe water, education and social services and production. He notes that the district will focus on a strategy for social economic growth and development.

Sheikh Swaibu Mukama: He is the district Dawa for Butaleja. He said that the district status has helped in bringing service nearer to the people and also many of the Banyole sons/ daughters have been employed. Sheikh Mukama thinks that the district will not develop for as long as the two camps of Mr Emmanuel Dombo and Ms Dorothy Hyuha don’t reconcile. He also blames the poor service delivery on poor leadership.

Moses Gamusi: He is the district secretary for finance, planning and administration and thinks that rather than concentrating on politics, the leaders should refocus efforts in developing the district by lobbying from government.

Imran Muluga:He is the current RDC of Busia District. He has been an educationist and politician in Butaleja and was pivotal in the fight to have Butaleja County elevated to a district status. He is a former director of Tororo Progressive Academy.

Richard Waya: He is a former LC5 chairman for Butaleja, the first one after the county was elevated into a district. After losing out on the LC5 seat, he now works as an accountant with USAID.

Tom Daka:He is an opinion leader. He says that although the district is growing , it has a lot of challenges ranging from disunity and corruption. He says politics has left the people of Butaleja divided into two camps and that this is dictating a lot of things in the district because before someone gets a job he/she must belong to one of the camps.

He feels that if politicians in the district reconciled the district will develop fast. He calls upon the public to expose politicians who are liars.

Edirisa Lubalire: He is the district chairperson Uganda Neddagala lyayo [traditional healers]. He blames the district leaders for what he described as “continuous division among themselves” and he called upon them to unite.

Mr Lubalire has many times called on the public to be on alert and avoid quack traditional healers, saying there is a group of people claiming that they work with traditional healers when actually they are not.

He blamed the increasing child sacrifice on such people who pretend to be traditional healers and also promised to take serious action against them.
Yusuf Mutembuli: He is a private lawyer with chambers in Mbale Municipality but with keen interest in affairs of the district. He contested against Mr Emmanuel Dombo Lumala for Bunyole East parliamentary seat in 2011 and lost.Currently, Mr Mutembuli is supporting several women and youth groups in the constituency. He asked the district leaders to reconcile and work for the good of the district.

Dan Hyuha Haumba: Former head teacher of Manjasi High School, Mr Hyuha is a board member of Busitema University. He is a reknown teacher of literature and history in various schools in the country.

Hajji Nareeba is a rural model farmer in Butaleja who owns rice gardens and fish ponds in Nawanjofu. He says since the district has no serious cash crop and minerals, it is only through agriculture that Butaleja can be transformed.


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