Lango development master plan: Last hope for poverty eradication?

A woman eats sugarcane at Barlonyo Trading Centre, Agweng Sub- County in Lira District in October 2021. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

What you need to know:

  • Poverty in Lango has reduced over the past two decades, thanks to the development partners’ and government rebuilding programmes.

Cultural leaders under Tekwaro Lango have come up with a development master plan which they believe if effectively implemented can lead to sustainable development in the Lango sub-region.

The plan focuses on improving household income through promotion of modern agronomic practices and village savings, provision of education scholarships to brilliant but underprivileged children and engaging in activities that can mitigate the effects of climate change.

For this new ambitious poverty eradication strategy to be successful, experts say, there must be adequate resource envelope, unity, commitment and support from all cultural, religious and political leaders.

George Ojwang Opota, the Prime Minister of Tekwaro Lango, said under their development master plan, a number of projects have been introduced which “if well implemented our dreams will come true. What we need right now is unity, and with unity we shall never be the same again.”

In an interview with this publication via telephone on Sunday, Ojwang called upon all able bodied youth, women and men to join hands in the fight against poverty.

Poverty in Lango has reduced over the past two decades, thanks to the development partners’ and government rebuilding programmes.

However, laziness in the local population coupled with the effects of climate change have jeopardized the gains achieved, pushing people into extreme poverty.

This sub-region, north of Kampala, suffered atrocities largely perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgents, and it was only after the end of the conflict in 2007 that it began to experience some economic progress.

The region with a population of over 1.2 million people comprises nine districts: Lira, Oyam, Kole, Apac, Kwania, Otuke, Dokolo, Amolatar and Alebtong.

Over the last five years, there were alarming poverty rates, especially in rural areas, due to a crisis generated by natural disasters, and Karamojong cattle raids being experienced mainly in Otuke and Alebtong.

Here in this sub-region of northern Uganda, residents engage in agriculture which provides food, cash income, employment and raw materials for rural and urban industrialization.

At least 134,705 households in Lira, Kole, Oyam, Otuke, Alebtong, Amolatar, Apac and Dokolo engaged in growing beans, according to the 2014 census. Households that engaged in growing maize and livestock farming in those districts stood at 99,937 and 198,089 respectively.

However, crop growing and livestock farming have failed to get people out of poverty.

For instance in Otuke District, 7,334 households representing 33.4% of the population had members aged 5 years and above that consumed less than two meals a day. In Oyam: 3,940 households (12.8%); Alebtong: 2,964 households (12.0%); Kole: 5,110 households (10.5 percent); Lira: 2,016 households (8.0 percent) could not afford two meals a day. 

In Apac, 1,028 households (7.8%), Amolatar: 1,352 households (4.8 percent); Dokolo: 900 households (4.5%) had members aged 5 years and above that consumed less than two meals a day (Source: National Population and Housing Census, 2014).  

Despite the ongoing large-scale raids perpetrated by Karamojong cattle rustlers in east Lango (Otuke and Alebtong) coupled with changes in weather patterns and disunity among leaders, Mr Ojwang said not all is lost.

“We are calling upon every Lango son and daughter to join hands so that together we can kick poverty out of Lango,” the Prime Minister said.

Lango Minister of Foreign Affairs Edwin Odur-Luru said in their effort to ensure prevalence of peace and development in the area, their leadership is networking with its subjects in the diaspora as they embark on global resource mobilisation to finance their activities.

He also announced that Uganda Martyrs University has allocated Tekwaro Lango 20 slots under their scholarship scheme which will benefit children from disadvantaged families.

“We have started the implementation of our tree-planting project, which is going on smoothly and right now we want to start sponsoring education of children from disadvantaged families,” Mr Odur-Luru said.

He added: “We have realised that the financial support we are getting from the government is too little to finance our activities yet Lango people are faced with a lot of problems. So, we are now doing resource mobilisation to enable us to achieve our desired goal. Our focus is on education, health and wealth creation.”