How to fly PDM above weather red flags

Ms Pelucy Biira in her dried-up maize garden in Rugendabara-Kikongo Town Council, Kasese District. PHOTO / JOEL KAGUTA

What you need to know:

  • The Parish Development Model (PDM) is a new government programme to lift more than 3 million peasant households into the money economy. In this fifth instalment of our series, PDM and making money, some farmers want government to provide water sources, while others fear losing their crops to floods.

Ntoroko and Kasese districts are among the blackspots for disasters such as droughts and floods.

The two districts have seen lives lost and property destroyed, rendering several families helpless.

But with the introduction of the Parish Development Model (PDM), there is a ray of hope that this issue could be addressed to enable residents thrive, since several of them were displaced by the floods. In Ntoroko, for example, most people largely depend on cattle rearing, fishing, and farming.

The district commercial officer, who is also the PDM coordinator, Mr Edward Musana, said Ntoroko has a total of 48 parishes. Out of these, 47, have received cash from the first phase of the programme.

He said Kamuga parish in Kanara Sub-County was left out because residents had been displaced by floods in 2019, adding that they are still a common occurrence in the area.

Mr Musana, however, said the district embarked on training affected beneficiaries in disaster prevention and management, as well as financial management before money can be allocated to the groups.

 “We trained all stakeholders and PDM  beneficiaries in financial management because we don’t want them to make losses,” he said.

Mr Musana said currently, 354 enterprises have been selected from 47 parish saccos, with more than 10,000 beneficiaries.

Majority of the beneficiaries opted for cattle rearing, fish processing, and goat rearing.

The Rwebisengo Sub-county chief, Mr Robert Irumba, said majority of the people selected cattle rearing and bull fattening, while  a few are in tomato and cassava growing, and poultry rearing.

The sub-county is comprised of Makodo, Kiraga, Harukoba, Majumba, and Mukimba parishes .

Mr Irumba said the biggest fear is that the programme may be disrupted by the dry spell if mini-irrigation schemes and valley dams are not availed.

The area also neighbours Tooro Semliki game reserve, with high human-wildlife conflict cases where animals cross from the park and destroy crops.

Ms Christine Kasemire, the chairperson of Tomato Growers’ Enterprise, said there are 30 members in the group, who  hope to benefit from the parish model.

“Previously, we were planting tomatoes on one acre of land but with this support from government, we hope to increase to three acres,” she said.

Ms Kasemire said they have already dug a small well to start harvesting rain water for irrigating their crops.

Mr Francis Kabagambe from Butungama Sub-county, said the dry spell is a challenge to PDM since the area experiences water scarcity.

“The PDM programme is the best initiative but for Ntoroko, we still need another intervention to address the challenge. Our wells have started drying up before the dry spell intensifies, my crops have also dried up,” he said.

Mr Charles Isingoma, the parish chief of Makodo, said he had mobilised 95 people to benefit from the PDM. About five enterprises, including goat rearing, bull fattening, tomato and cassava growing, and cattle trade have been selected.

In Kanara Sub-county and Kanara Town Council, majority of enterprises selected are fish processing and boat making. These areas border Lake Albert.

The two areas have also been prone to floods due to rising water levels from Lake Albert and River Semliki.

Mr David Kor, the Kanara Town Council chairman, said he is optimistic that if the floods don’t re-occur ,  his people will benefit from PDM.

Mr James Kabagambe, who picked fishing, said he is ready to benefit from the programme because they were given a chance to select enterprises.

“I have been in this business over the years, this time, I am going to buy the recommended fishing gear and continue with my business. Previously, soldiers have been chasing me from the lake because I have been using illegal fishing gear,” he said. The Ntoroko production and marketing officer, Mr Patrick Businge Bagonza, said they have identified model farmers who will train  PDM beneficiaries on how to select enterprises.

A resident at a drying well in Butungama Sub-county, Ntoroko District. PHOTO / ALEX ASHABA

Mr Bagonza said for those involved in cattle keeping and bull fattening, they will be trained on how to make silage, hay, pasture growing so that they can overcome the dry spell.

The February district livestock census report indicates that Ntoroko has a total of 230,671 head of cattle, of which 99 percent are beef type indigenous.

The report also indicates that as a result of drought, the milk production has dropped by 69 percent from 10,630 litres to 3,295 litres per day.  The sales of milk also declined by 64.5 percent from 3,713 litres a day to 1,318 litres hence impacting negatively on household incomes.

 The milk daily consumption also reduced because of the scarcity of milk. Before May last year, the consumption per day was 7,102 litres and by January this year, it had reduced to 1,977 litres per day.

By January, a total of 996 head of cattle were reported dead due to effects of drought.


Floods

From October 2019 to date, about 10,000 people remain displaced by floods due to rising water levels from Lake Albert in Kanara Sub-county and Kanara Town Council.  In October last year, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja promised that government would relocate affected people and also construct a new health facility to replace Rwangara Health Centre III that was submerged. The relocation of affected people still hangs in the balance but only the Rwangara health facility is almost complete.

The district chairman, Mr William Kasoro, said they have been requesting the government, through the Office of Prime Minister, to add the district among the beneficiaries of Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) to address such challenges.

As the government rolls out PDM in 197 parishes of Kasese, the locals, especially those who live in flood-prone areas, are still living in fear that the initiative may fail to improve their livelihoods if the issue of floods is not addressed.

 Ms Alice Katsombyo, a resident of Kivegenyi Village, said she will not risk participating in PDM  for fear of floods.

In 2020, the farmer lost all her four acres of crops where she had banana plantation and cocoa to floods.

“The government has come up with a good programme but I am not sure if I will apply for that money because I don’t have any enterprise that will survive the current disasters in Kasese,” she said.

 Mr Everest Serujendo, another resident of Karusandara Sub-county, said all his gardens were destroyed in just hours when River Mubuku burst its banks in 2020. The sub-county is a food basket for Kasese.

 Mr Charles Mukiza, the Karusandara Sub-county chairperson, said if the PDM is to work better, the government should first desilt River Mubuku.

“This river has always been stubborn in May but if the government carries periodic desilting, the challenge of floods destroying people’s enterprises will have been addressed ,”  Mr Mukiza said.

Ms Pelucy Biira, a farmer in Block B cell in Rugendabara-Kikongo Town Council, said her three-acre maize garden dried up before harvesting. She appealed for an irrigation scheme.

Govt response to flood-prone areas

The State Minister for Local government, Ms Victoria Businge Rusoke, said they are working with relevant ministries that will ensure all challenges that intend to affect the progress of the programme are addressed. She said people living in disaster-prone areas have been guided to select enterprises that will not be affected by such calamities.

“Beneficiaries of the PDM programme have been guided technically on enterprise selection, they should not worry at all, our technical team are ready to guide them throughout,” Ms Businge said.  She said the Ministry of Water and Environment will extend water for production to dry areas and also provide irrigation schemes. “We know these days the weather has changed, rain seasons are not predictable,” she said.

Ms Businge said for areas with poor road networks, the Ministry for Works will ensure roads are renovated, while the Ministry for Energy will provide power to support industries.

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