Lira locals swap PDM projects in cash hunt

Members of Eastern Ward A PDM Sacco attend a meeting in Kole Town Council on November 4, 2023. In Lira District, some beneficiaries have diverted PDM funds. PHOTO/FILE/BILL OKETCH

What you need to know:

  • The implementation of Parish Development Model (PDM) in Lira District is faced with huge challenges as most beneficiaries have diverted from their planned enterprises. 

In Barr, Itek and Awiodyek sub-counties, Amach and Agweng town councils, for example, beneficiaries of maize growing enterprises diverted to livestock and others diversified into different projects, according to the Inspectorate of Government (IG). 

Some of the reasons for diversion and diversification include, among others, low prices of maize, late receipt of funds at the end of the planting season, poor storage facilities for the produce, unpredictable weather, which affect farmers’ yields and formation of enterprises before training of beneficiaries. 

Mr Patrick Olobo, a member of Ocan Onote Maize Growers in Ayac PDM Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation (Sacco), said one of the reasons for diversion seems to be historical. 

“Our people were cattle keepers’ but they lost their cows. So, when they [beneficiaries] got the money, you would see them buying cows,” he said.  

In line with the government mandate, the Inspectorate of Government (IG) last week conducted monitoring and inspection of PDM activities in Lira District, focusing on funds sent to saccos as a revolving fund. 

Ms Christine Lamwaka, the manager for projects at IG, while releasing their finding at Lira City Council Hall on June 14, said two saccos had misused the PDM money.  

“Otherwise, the other beneficiaries had put their money to income generating activities,” Ms Lamwaka said, adding: “All the beneficiaries were appreciative of the money given to them and all testified that their lives have changed for the better.” 

Mr Geoffrey Okaka, the Lira chief administrative officer, said the IG intervention is timely and good.  

“Challenges will be there and it is part of our function to make sure that we address some of these challenges. The other issue [that we still need to work on] is mindset change,” he said.  

Mr Thomas Okello, the head of production, said: “We have inadequate extension staff, especially for veterinary and fisheries. The government sends us money for recruitment, but we have not been allowed to recruit because of a ban yet we may take back some money [to the Treasury].” 

“Secondly, we have spent all the money on beneficiaries. There is nothing at district level for monitoring and supervision,’’ he added.

Ms Patricia Achan Okiria, the deputy Inspector General of Government (IGG), said the IG will work with the ministries of Public Service and Local Government to ensure that the ban on recruitment [of officials] is lifted and Lira can fill the staffing gap.  

She vowed to deal with people who misuse PDM funds. 

“For me, my job is to sanction arrests, investigations and prosecutions of corruption-related cases. I will happily take on such cases and bring those kinds of people to book,” Ms Achan said. 

The deputy IGG further cautioned beneficiaries who are diverting from PDM planned enterprises. 

“In Soroti District, for example, some farmers were doing poultry, but when they realised that rabbits are now very marketable, they wanted to change to being rabbits. Basically, you have to document and have it properly captured so that it does not look like you diverted [the money],” she added. 

PDM is a multi-social strategy to create socio-economic transformation aimed at moving 39 percent of households out of subsistence economy.  

Launched in the Financial Year 2021/2022, PDM has seven pillars. The IG’s role is under pillar seven of governance and accountability. The mandate is to provide transparency mechanisms at all levels of implementation.    

Funds disbursement

The Inspection of Government established that Lira District, with 58 PDM saccos, has so far received Shs9.4b. So far, a total of 6,467 people have benefited from the PDM. However, two out of the 170 beneficiaries whose projects were inspected had misused the money and had nothing to show.