PDM: The bullet to rescue Bukedi from poverty

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Ms Monica Musenero (centre), launches the PDM sensitisation meetings in Tororo District on Saturday. PHOTO/JOSEPH OMOLLO

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.
  • Under its blueprint, money will be sent directly to parishes, and beneficiaries formed into groups choose most profitable enterprises  in which they have comparative advantage.
  • In this first instalment of our new series, PDM and making money, our reporters Fred Wambede & Joseph Omollo detail how Bukedi is upbeat about the programme.

In the rural setting of Puti-puti Sub-county in Pallisa District, Mr Julius Kirya is known as an early riser.

Apart from practising subsistence farming, Mr Kirya, 30, also ekes a living through fetching water from Limoto wetland and selling it to mostly food kiosk owners in Pallisa Town Council.

Mr Kirya looks weak and hopeless. He is certainly among the 39 percent of Ugandans that live from hand to mouth.

Mr Julius Okanya, a food kiosk dealer, who is Kirya’s client says the latter can spend two weeks without changing his clothes.

“Whatever money I give him ends at the drinking joint, he even takes credit before he brings water,” he says.

Mr Kirya’s life is no different from that of Mr John Kaisi, 47, a resident of Osupa Central in Pallisa Sub-county and a subsistence farmer.

A good day for Mr Kaisi starts with local brew. “Taking local brew makes me forget my biting poverty,” he says with a stern smile.

Just like Kirya and Kaisi, most locals in Bukedi Sub-region are subsistence farmers who only grow food crops to meet their needs and those of their family members. 

In December 2019, the locals in Pallisa informed President Museveni during his visit to Limoto Wetland Restoration Project that they work from hand to mouth.

The wetland on Tirinyi-Pallisa road is shared by the districts of Pallisa, Kibuku, Budaka, and parts of Butebo. 

This is how the President got the catchphrase; Nkolera Kida Kyonka, a Lugwere word meaning (I hustle so much to feed my stomach).

About 88.3 percent of the households in the district with 98 parishes and Bukedi at large depend on subsistence farming as their main source of livelihood.

The current poverty rate in the sub-region is 43.7 percent, with the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of less than $135 (about Shs 515,929). 

The sub region comprises Pallisa, Budaka, Butebo, Butaleja, Tororo, and Busia. 
The NDPIII poverty reduction projections for the sub-region stand at 25.8 percent by 2025.
With the Parish Development Model (PDM), leaders are hopeful that poverty reduction levels will fall below 10 percent by 2025, if the programme is well implemented.

The programme, which was launched in Kibuku District in February, is poised to pull the 39 percent of Uganda’s (about 41 million) population that lives from hand to mouth to the money economy.

Ms Betty Gimbo, a resident of Limoto Trading Centre in Puti-puti sub-county, says they have formed their group, registered it and opened a bank account to benefit from PDM.

“We are ready to go. We had been left behind because of lack of capital. We are happy the government is giving us capital,” she says.

Registration hurdle

Ms Gimbo, however, says the parish chiefs should desist from registering people who don’t qualify to benefit.

“Registering them will disadvantage the genuine beneficiaries,” she says.

According to the programme, each of Uganda’s 10,694 parishes will receive Shs100m. From this, each household is expected to get Shs1m to kick start the project chosen by the beneficiaries.

Out of Shs100m, women and youth will each be entitled to 30 percent at every parish level while men will settle for 20 percent, with the elderly and Persons with Disabilities getting 10 percent apiece.

The farmers have formed groups focusing on the recommended enterprises such as dairy, poultry, fruit and piggery farming. 

Ms Sarah Achieng Opendi, the Tororo District Woman MP, says the sub-region’s climate favours both animal and poultry farming.

“In this region, many households rear pigs, poultry and at least a cow, meaning they are already doing it and they just need to be supported,’’  she says.

The chief administrative officer of Tororo, Mr Dustan Balaba, says the district received money for 155 parishes out of the 180 and that money had been dispatched to Sacco accounts.

Mr Balaba says they are optimistic that the programmes will transform lives.
“We have trained Sacco leaders on loan management and I am hopeful that if it is well managed, the economic status of our people will improve drastically,” he says.

About 79 percent of households in the district are involved in subsistence farming.  “Out of the 35 percent national poverty index, Bukedi region contributes 10 percent of the poverty index, which is too high,” he says. Monitor learnt from leaders that in the sub-region, 80 percent of the households have more than seven people.

Mr Robert Ongoye, a resident of Putir Village in Mukuju Sub-county, says although they have formed groups, some youth who are deemed Opposition have been isolated.

“The leaders of the Sacco committees are isolating the youth they think support the Opposition. The leaders should come in and stop that,” he says.

Leaders maintain that PDM is a government programme that should benefit all Ugandans and that no one should be left behind in the fight against poverty.

The programme has seven pillars, including production, storage, processing and marketing, infrastructure and economic services, financial inclusion, Social services and mindset change.

Other pillars are parish-based management information systems and governance and administration.

Tororo County North MP Geofrey Ekanya urges Opposition parties to rally behind the implementation of the programmes.

He says whereas they disagree on party ideologies, issues to do with wealth creation should be the uniting factor.

“As we wait for 2026, all efforts should be centered at fighting poverty. This should be a non-partisan issue,” he says.

The Budama South MP, Mr Emmanuel Otala, says Sacco leaders should exercise financial discipline.
“This money is not meant to facilitate your party events like marriage ceremonies, Christmas parties and graduation ceremonies. It is for investments,” he says.

Tororo municipality MP Yeri Apollo Ofwono urges locals to report cases where civil servants ask for kickbacks in order for them to benefit.

“The beneficiaries should engage in value addition for agricultural products since they don’t have enough land to engage in large scale agricultural production,” he says.  The chairperson of Tororo, Mr John Okeya, says the involvement of political leaders is key. 

“We are worried that if the political leaders are excluded, the programme might fail like the previous ones such as the Youth Livelihood Programme,” Mr Okeya says.

President Museveni’s government has attempted various  programmes to alleviate poverty such as Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), Poverty Eradication Action plan (PEAP), Entandikwa, Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP), and the army lead programme–Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), but all have yielded less outcomes.

The Tororo County South MP, Mr Fredrick Angura, says the PDM programme will help government to restore wetlands that have been destroyed by human activities.

“The locals will engage in viable enterprises and abandon rice farming in the wetlands,” he says.
In Butebo, Mr Robert Nalwanda, a resident of Kabwangasi Sub-county and a PDM beneficiary, says the government should improve infrastructure.

“The government should work on roads to link farmers to the market across the region to avoid situations where there products get stuck,” he says.

The district, with 31 parishes, has a poor road network. Locals have also reported cases of mismanagement of the PDM funds.

The Butebo chairman, Mr James Okurut, says anybody found stealing the PDM funds will be arrested and prosecuted. “This time round, the government will not close an eye to whoever dips his or her hands into these monies,’’ Mr Okurut warns.

He cautions beneficiaries not to misuse the money, but put it into productive ventures.
Dr Patrick Mutono, the Butebo County MP, says the sub-region being the second poorest in the country after Karamoja, needs serious attention from the government. 

“There is a need to stimulate the growth potential of the districts in key opportunities in Agric-business, industrial development and tourism” he says.

Mr Mohammed Nakeba, the Kibuku chairman, says lack of capital had sent the population into a state of frustration.

“The beneficiaries will now undertake gainful employment and livelihood support initiatives,” he says.

Mr Philip Okanya, another opinion leader, says well intended government programmes have been failing because of corruption.

The minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero,  said: “In PDM, the district leaders have been left out and the money comes to the parish straight from the centre without any obstacles. It is a corrupt free programme,” she says.


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