Hopes high in Busoga as group verification starts

Minister for Presidency Milly Babalanda (centre) interacts with Kamuli District officials while educating locals about Parish Development Model in May. PHOTO/SAM OPIO CALEB

What you need to know:

  • The Parish Development Model (PDM) is a new government programme to lift more than three million peasant households into the money economy.
  • In this eleventh instalment of our series, PDM and making money, our reporters Philip Wafula, Sam Opio Caleb and Ronald Seebe, detail how Busoga is set to benefit from the project.

A Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) 2019/2020 report ranked Busoga Sub-region as the poorest region in the country.

The general poverty level increased from eight million people in 2016/2017 to 8.3 million in 2019/2020.

However, with the Parish Development Model (PDM), government hopes to change the sub-region’s fortunes.

Each parish in the new financial year, which started on July 1, will receive Shs100m annually for the next five years.

In Busoga, the main economic activity has been sugarcane growing, with residents enlisting either as out-growers or labourers.

But the farmers have lately expressed concern over the failure by millers to increase the purchase price of raw cane despite the rising costs of sugar.

The sub-region has six sugar-processing factories, including Kakira Sugar Works, Mayuge Sugar, Kamuli Sugar Ltd, Kaliro Sugar Ltd, GM Sugar Factory and Bugiri Sugar Ltd.
A tonne of raw cane costs Shs120,000, a price it has maintained since April when it breached the Shs96,000 mark or Shs175,000 in 2017. 

The PDM project, which President Museveni launched in the eastern Kibuku District on February 27, aims to lift about 17.5 million Ugandans in 3.5 million households from peasantry to the money economy.

Under the programme, government will disburse money directly from the Finance ministry to parishes to fund execution of enterprises selected and approved.

The Jinja District Production officer, Mr Tom Kasadha, in an interview on Monday, says the residents’ expectations are high.  “Expectations were high among residents who were interested in the money bit of it; they have been told that the government promised them money,” he said.

Mr Kasadha says 34 parishes have each received Shs7.1m, adding that the government promised to top up, so they are waiting. 

“But currently, the verification of the groups is going on after which we shall disburse the money,” he says.

Ms Hellen Tabingwa, the town agent of Polota Ward in Kakira Town Council, says they receive  many applications each day.

“Since the government said as long as the residents are into subsistence, we shouldn’t discriminate, we receive the names and forward them to the relevant authorities,” she says.
 Mr Yona Sabwe, a resident of Market Cell, Polota Ward in Kakira Town Council, was surprised that only Shs7.1m was credited.  “We hear of only Shs7.1m on the account, but when the Prime Minister was moving around, she said each homestead gets Shs1m; how can the whole parish share Shs7m?” he asks.

Mr Richard Hataba, a resident of Nyanza Quarters in Kakira Ward, Kakira Town Council, says they face a challenge of mindset change among the locals. 
“We are looking at the lowest person who has never handled Shs1m in lump sum.  I hope the money will be properly utilised,” he says.

Other interventions
In Busoga, residents tried to ride out of the poverty black hole through the Parish Community Association [PCA].

The initiative aims at streamlining and improving sustainable service delivery to communities and civilian veterans within the sub-region.

Kamuli is among the districts in Uganda where piloting implementation of the PCA model is, and so far, 53 of 80 parishes and 10 wards have received PCA funds, while no parish has received PDM funds.

Mr Moses Wako, the PDM focal person, expressed concern over the delay to release the PDM funds, adding that only 11 parishes have received PDM funds.  
He said: “In Buyende District, of 73 parishes, 22 have received PCA funds, while none has received PDM funds and in Namutumba District, of 111 parishes, 53 received PCA funds.”

The first Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, while educating the public on the PDM model in Buyende and Kamuli districts in May, said those who are members of the PCA must not be beneficiaries or members of PDM.

She also assured that the PCA will be a promoter of the saving culture and the PDM will be reviewed regularly to make it user-friendly and more impactful.

“The PCA is a special poverty alleviation programme for Busoga like those in Luweero, northern Uganda, Teso, and so on; it is a revolving fund of Shs30m per parish to enable the rural poor carry out economic activities and return it with small interest,” she said.

Ms Kadaga also said key stakeholders such as sub-county chiefs and other local leaders were left out, adding that the programme lacks infrastructure safeguards that require documentation, among others.

The Minister for the Presidency, Ms Milly Babalanda, tasked the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) to popularise, supervise and monitor government programmes and be champions through helping  people to benefit from the PDM.

“This is the most inclusive wealth creation programme that doesn’t require collateral security to trigger development through the value chain,” Ms Babalanda said.

Mr Richard Bwamiki, the Nawansaso Parish Chief in Bugabula Sub-county, who has been at the centre of mobilisation, sensitisation and recovery of the PCA model funds, in Namasagali and Nawanyago sub-counties, says the uptake of the PCA funds is encouraging.

Mr Bwamiki says Nawansaso and Kisaikye parishes in Namasagali Sub-county conducted self-mobilisation and devised a system of raising more funds for others to benefit through shifting from annual repayment to monthly repayment hence having more money coming back and more people benefitting.

“While the PCA initially had an annual interest of six percent, the local PCA members, especially in Nawansaso and Kisaikye parishes have taken on monthly charges on capital, giving many a chance to repay and borrow,” Mr Bwamiki says. 

He adds that Nawansaso PCA has already hit Shs50m in capital after making Shs20m in profits with flexible terms and conditions.

Ms Grace Nakirya, a beneficiary from Kasongoire Parish, Nkondo Sub-county, Buyende District, says when the funds were disbursed, women were hesitant to register while others were wary of repayment, adding that after mobilisation, they pooled and boosted their silver fish business. 
“We got the funds, invested in the silver fish business and have bought the right fishing net gear and sold fish to repay the PCA loan,” she says.

At Iringa Parish, Kidera Sub-county in Budiope West, Buyende District, Ms Abigail Namulondo, says such funds should include value-addition, market supply and modern farming practices for them to create positive impact.

She emphasizes that in the cattle corridor, fishing zones, such as Budiope West, the government should subsidise commodity prices, have quality supply of fishing nets, ox ploughs, and vegetable sprayers knapsacks, which all enable peasants raise more yields for both food consumption and income sales.

“We still dry cassava on rocks, homes and keep running to hide from army marine patrols in the waters; but if money can be enough to buy cassava processors/driers, buy fishing nets, then money will come,” she says.

Ms Lydia Namasoga, the Bugulumbya Sub-county in Kamuli District, says PCA is making impact because the beneficiaries invest in what they understand unlike the PDM which targets rural farmers with many “risks and disasters”.

In Namutumba District, the locals say the PDM programme will not transform them to a money economy because of bureaucracy and corruption.

According to the locals, for PDM to be successful, it should be handled like the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment programme (Sage), where cash is directly given to individuals.

“The government would have revised the challenges in Emyooga, YLP and other programmes and given PDM money to individuals, not groups,” Mr Kanene Waiswa, a resident of Namato East Village, Namutumba Sub-county, says.  
Mr Kanene tasks the RDCs to make a prompt monitoring visits to villages and tackle challenges.

Mr Johnson Nabongho, a resident of Namato West Village in Namutumba Sub-county, described the Sage programme as “one of the most successful and well-managed government programmes” because “it has no forgeries”. 

According to Mr Nabongho, it is high time those in-charge of the PDM programme copy Sage procedures.

Mr Bernard Mugabi, a resident of Namakoba Village, Kigalama, Namutumba Sub-county, says PDM will not work because of poor enterprise selection.
 “Under PDM, we were discouraged from growing maize and rice which are our traditional food crops, but we were encouraged to embrace bee keeping and fish farming which are expensive,” he says.
 The Busiki Constituency MP, Mr Paul Akamba, calls for sanctions on PDM defaulters.

 Ms Persis Namuganza, the Bukono County MP and State minister for Lands, says the PDM programme in Namutumba District needs to be revised through selecting viable enterprises which will make locals move to money economy.

*Written by Philip Wafula, Sam Opio Caleb and Ronald Seebe,


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