Ker Kwaro Acholi moves to re-align the agricultural and business sector to cooperative societies

ACHOLI – Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi Cultural Institution is in the final stages of rolling out a new cooperative society which seeks to organize and re-align the agricultural and business sector in Acholi sub-region.

In the proposal dubbed “Ker Kwaro Acholi Cooperative Society,” the cultural institution will bring together all the other smaller cooperative societies especially farming groups and other businesses in Acholi sub-region.

David Amone, the Minister for Production and Investment at Ker Kwaro Acholi says, the major focus of the new society is to unite, strategize and give focus and direction to the farmers and business communities in order to eliminate conflicts in business as well as boost bargaining capacities of the farmers.

Amone says, whereas Acholi sub-region is blessed with vast fertile land, almost 90% of the people are practicing agriculture. Less than 50% have grown to succeed in the sector majorly due to lack of focus and market knowledge and strategy.

“In this cooperative society, we will bring together all the farmers in their various smaller societies, train them, provide them with market knowledge and instill the spirit of unity and farming as a business, which should be able to change production,” Amone said.

Amone observed that most businesses in the Acholi sub-region seem to be competing and fighting amongst themselves instead of uniting and supporting each other in order to grow as a region like other areas have grown.

“When we see the current businesses in Acholi sub-region, there’s a lot of unnecessary competition, fighting among our own children who are actually brothers and sisters. We want to bring them together, help them have a holistic approach to the various business opportunities the region has,” said Amone.

“This cooperative society will give a big boost to the socio-economic transformation that the region has been undergoing though at a slow pace,” Amone notes.

Rwot Otinga Otto, the Deputy Paramount Chief of Acholi Cultural Institution says, they want to bridge the gap between private sector led and lower local economic development which has seen disparities in growth.

Otinga, who is also the clan Chief of Lamogi says, the major reason why the Acholi sub-region was recently ranked the poorest despite the availability of vast fertile land is that Acholi farmers are not focused and seemingly don’t know what they want and where they want to go.

“You can have your land or business but what do you want or where do you want to be? You find that most times our people upon starting business and breaking even, they get relaxed and now start to only sustain their business and not continue to further their growth. How then can we develop if we have such mentalities among the business community?” Otinga wondered.

Anthony Akol, the Chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) agrees with the concept but worries that there are too many cooperative societies coming up and this might affect their focus.

“Because now, we have the Parish Development Model (PDM), and several other cooperative societies in the region, having another one will likely jeopardize the focus and development intended beneficiaries,” Akol worries.

“We need to instead organize our already existing cooperative societies in order to achieve the main focus and vision of the new cooperative society that the cultural institution wants to rollout,”Akol proposes.

Denis Onguti, a businessman in Gulu City says, the already established and functional societies like that of the business community should instead be retooled on withering the threat being brought about by the foreign investors in the region.

“We have very many foreign businesses cropping up in the region and for us as business people, we need to be supported to compete so that we can as well develop our region,” Onguti appeals.

Acholi sub-region currently has hundreds of cooperative societies which are functional and these include;the Acholi East and West Cooperative Union, Kilak Cooperative Society, among others. Most of the societies majorly focus on agricultural production.

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Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) to establish an office in Masindi

MASINDI – As one way of bringing services closer to the people, Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) has decided to put an office in Masindi district to cater for the three districts of Masindi, Kiryandongo and Buliisa.

This was revealed by Hellen Masika, the deputy Executive Director of MSC on Wednesday while meeting Masindi district leaders, technocrats, and the religious leaders at Masindi district headquarters.

“Residents from the three districts have been finding it hard to access our services. I want the district leaders to identify for us space. We shall beautify it and equip it. Make sure that the people in that office are residents of this area who are well versed with the local language,” said Masika.

She warned the district leaders to desist from any form of corruption while recruiting the two officers who will be working in the office.

She explained that the regional office which is in Hoima is not enough for the whole region to provide adequate services.

The regional office caters for 10 districts and a city, eight from Bunyoro sub-region and two from Buganda region.

Those from Bunyoro include; Masindi, Hoima, Buliisa, Kiryandongo, Kibaale, Kakumiro, Kikuube, Kagadi and Hoima city while Kiboga and Kyakwanzi are from Buganda.

A team from MSC led by Emmanuel Kiiza Aliba, the Chairperson board had come to Masindi to explain to the leaders the opportunities available if they partner with MSC.

“There are very many opportunities if you partner with us. I am imploring organized SACCOs, Cooperatives and groups to partner with us such that we can support you financially and fight poverty. MSC was put in place to support organized and active groups as well as one way of changing social and economic status of Ugandans,” noted Kiiza.

He added that he doesn’t want to leave office when the people of Bunyoro are poor and yet Bunyoro is home, adding that he came to Masindi with the whole team to open the doors wide for the residents to benefit.

Rev. Can. Francis Kajura, the Archdeacon Masindi Archdeaconry asked the Deputy Executive Director MSC to ensure that religious leaders are also supported, explaining that they are also organized in a SACCO but benefiting from government is a hurdle to them.

“We formed our SACCO about seven years ago. We thought we would benefit from Emyooga program but all was in vain. As religious leaders, we also need to be supported because apart from the ministry, we also do other economic activities,” he explained.

In her response, Masika noted that they couldn’t benefit from Emyooga because they were not among the categories, adding that since they are organized, they can benefit from other programs which are supported by the MSC.

She added that even the Muslims are going to be supported under the Islamic financing where they’ll not be required to put interest on the money given to them.

“There has been an information gap, but all this is going to be bridged when we establish our office here,” Masika added.

Pamela Nyakato, the Secretary for Finance at Masindi District Local Government promised to expeditiously work on the issue of identifying the office space to enable people access the services which will enable them to move out of poverty.

Abdallah Serunkuma, the Chairperson Masindi business community commended the team from MSC for coming to them to explain various opportunities which are available noting that they have been in total darkness but now their eyes are opened.

Ronald Businge Kyomuhendo, the Mayor Masindi Municipality asked for intensified sensitization and monitoring of different government programs, explaining that the government is injecting a lot of money through different programs but with no impact on ground.

“We need to find out why there’s not much impact on ground and yet government is investing in a lot of money. We need to move out of offices and understand where the problem is,” he added.

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Ker Kwaro Acholi wants local leaders oriented on the Parish Development Model program

ACHOLI – Ker Kwaro Acholi (KKA), the Acholi Cultural Institution has appealed to the government to consider orienting local leaders if the Parish Development Model (PDM) is to succeed in the region.

In May this year, Parliament approved the implementation of the Parish Development Model, with activities rolling out in phases, including the recruitment of Parish Chiefs, setting up a Community Information System (CIS), training and establishing Parish Development Committees, as well as massive mobilization of the public both locally and nationally.

Rwot David Onen Acana II, the Acholi Paramount Chief says, with the failure of several government projects including; NAADs, NUSAF, among others, there’s need to psychologically prepare the local leaders who will be at the forefront of implementing the new project that will see the government investing Shs 100 million per parish for the next five years.

Speaking recently, President Museveni urged the National Resistance Movement MPs to approve a proposal to increase the funds from the current allocation of Shs 200 billion to Shs1. 9 trillion.

Acana says that cultural institutions must be included among those who are to receive orientation since most of them are key opinion leaders in the community.

Ambrose Olaa, the Ker Kwaro Acholi Prime Minister said that, already the cultural institution is engaged in a series of community projects and having members of the institutions along with local leaders oriented on the program will help in shaping the mindset of the communities towards embracing it.

According to Olaa, the people need to understand their role in the Parish Development Model so that they own the program.

Recently, the government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa said that local leaders such as Parish Chiefs will take the lead role in designing the community development agenda under the Parish Development Model (PDM).

Santa Okot, the MP for Aruu North constituency, Pader district says, with the increasing rate of corruption and misinformation regarding government programs, the Parish Development Model will also fail if the mindset of the targeted beneficiaries are not changed through mass sensitizations and community engagements.

“We have seen several programs either failing or struggling to succeed in the region, this has been mainly because there was no orientation from the initial stages of the projects. so, for this Parish Development Model to succeed, the government needs to orient the community members and leaders on their roles so that it is easier to monitor and account for the funds,” Okot explained.

Richard Todwong, the National Resistance Movement Party (NRM), Secretary General says, that the concerns of the cultural institutions and leaders will be discussed. He also rallied the local leaders especially those from the NRM party to disseminate information regarding the Parish Development Model.

The Parish Development Module has been adopted into the 3rd National Development Plan as a strategy for rural and socio -economic transformation. The parish will be the epicenter of multi-sectoral community development planning, implementation, supervision, monitoring and accountability.

The LC2 Chairperson and Parish Chief shall be responsible for political stewardship in the implementation of the parish model in their respective parishes with support from the sub-county and district technical planning committee.

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Kikuube RDC orders the arrest of police officers for acting unprofessionally

KIKUUBE – Several police officers in Kikuube district are in trouble over corruption and failure to carry out their duties professionally.

The accused police officers are; the Officer in-Charge (OC) of Kyarushesha police post, Yosia Kisimba and the OC Kasonga police post, Steven Mawa.

Others are, police officers attached to Kikuube police station.

The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Kikuube, Amlan Tumusime ordered the arrest and transfer from his work station of Kisimba and the arrest of Mawa. He also ordered for the investigation of other police officers from Kikuube police station.

The RDC’s orders come after residents of Bwera village, Kyangwali sub-county in Kikuube district sought his intervention over the continued misconduct of police officers in the area.

In the petition signed by more than 400 residents, the police officers at Kikuube police station and Kyarushesha police post were accused of being corrupt and unprofessional.

During a security meeting chaired by the RDC, in Bwera village on Sunday evening, Kisimba was accused of releasing suspects who were found torturing one of the residents, John Turyamureba.

According to Godwin Munara, the Chairman LC I, Bwera village Butole Parish, Kyangali sub-county, on August 19th, 2021, arrested a group of people who were accused of torturing Turyamureba but a day later, they were released without being charged.

It is alleged that the police officers connived with Pastor Living Kangenyi of Bwera Miracle Church to release the suspects on police bond.

It is alleged that the released suspects on the day they were released connived with the children and wife of the Turyamureba and killed the man whom they had earlier tortured. Turyamureba’s body was found dumped on a farm.

The suspects who included Stephanie Uwimaana, the wife to the deceased, Twekabe James and Richard Musiguzi, sons to the deceased, Samuel Mugisha, Alloys Habineza, John Mbabazi and Jackson Tushabomwe all members of Bwera Miracle Church were arrested after the death of Turyamureba.

After the arrest of the 7 suspects on 21 of August, 2021, they were detained at Kikuube police station; however, 6 of the suspects who included the children and their mother were released on police bond.

In their petition, the residents also accused Steven Mawa, the OC Kasonga of demanding Shs300,000 to carry out a post-mortem for the deceased (Turyamureba).

According to Munara, the release of the suspects and unprofessional conduct angered the residents and petitioned the office of RDC calling for his intervention.

He added that the release of the suspect is giving the residents sleepless nights fearing that the group may attack and kill another resident since the motive of killing a fellow resident was not known.

Munara says that police are not helping the local communities adding that instead of providing security; they (police) are fueling conflicts.

In his response, RDC Tumusime ordered for the arrest and transfer of the OC for Kisimba and Mawa from the police post and also ordered for the re-arrest of the suspects. He directed that the police officers accused of conniving to release the suspects be investigated.

“Such police officers are the ones tarnishing the image of police and the government, so the OC of Kyarushesha and Kasonga must be arrested and must make a statement,” the RDC ordered.

However, Daniel Kata Mugisa, the Kikuube district CID Officer explains that, the six suspects were released after one of the suspects, Jackson Tushabomwe confessed to having killed the deceased alone. He noted that Jackson Tushabomwe is currently detained at Masindi prison.

He asked the residents to provide police with more evidence and promised to re-arrest the suspects after investigation and getting enough evidence.

The OC Kisimba failed to defend himself and said that he was misled by Pastor Mugyeni and asked for forgiveness.

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Acholi leaders question the contribution of investors in community empowerment

ACHOLI – Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) and Ker Kwaro Acholi (KKA), the Acholi Cultural Institution has questioned the contribution of the several investors in the sub-region on socio-economic empowerment of the community.

This was during last weekend’s Investors Forum organized by Acholi Parliamentary Group held in Vila Kazi in Got Apwoyo sub-county in Nwoya district.

Tony Awany, the APG Secretary for Lands and Investments says, despite the influx of several investors setting up farms and factories in the sub-region, the community has remained poor.

Awany faults some of the investors including Bukona factory which is located in Nwoya East for rallying farmers in larger numbers to plant cassava promising ready market yet they did not buy even a kilo of cassava.

“About three years ago, thousands of farmers were rallied to plant cassava because there was a ready market. But when the cassava got ready, not even a kilo of cassava was bought by Bukona which rallied people to plant cassava,” Awany notes.

According to Awany, several community members, especially those who stay around the factories, have been reduced to casual laborers who are mistreated and in some cases, not even paid their due allowances.

“We have heard cases of investors failing to pay their workers for several months and yet while lobbying for funds from the government; they claim they want to empower the community around them. One wonders whether this is an empowerment or adding more salt to their injuries,” Awany said.

Paska Achiro Menya, the Pader district Woman MP says, despite the government of Uganda through NAADs and the Uganda Development Cooperation (UDC). having supported the investors to set up their investments, the socio-economic status of the communities in the region who are used to lobby for funds from the government has remained miserably low.

In some factories, the owners recruit casual workers from other parts of the country and in some cases import workers from other countries other than training the community members to have the required skills and then employ them, said Achiro.

Anthony Akol, the Kilak North Member of Parliament who also doubles as the Chairperson Acholi Parliamentary Group says, as leaders, they have resolved that if any investor is not ready to employ community members in the Sub Region, they will not be allowed to operate in the sub-region.

According to Akol, as leaders, they want the investors to prioritize local content while employing workers and establishing various corporate social responsibilities.

“What we want is that for any investor operating or who wants to operate in Acholi sub-region, they must ensure that they have local content as far as their employment is concerned. They should also design some corporate social responsibility activities which cause real time impact not just games per say like some companies have been doing,” Akol noted.

Mohamoud Abdi Mohamed, the Director of Agriculture from Atiak Sugar speaking during the forum says that most of the people around their factory are lazy and often opt out of the jobs even when given opportunity.

According to Mohamoud, depending on various factors, there’s generally low skills level from the community which has forced them to in some cases import workers from other countries. He says that in 2016, they imported 600 welders from India because they could not access highly skilled people in the local market.

Julian Omala Adyeri, the Director of Delight says, in some cases they are constrained by finances which make them struggle to reach the communities.

According to Omala, for Delight, they have distributed Ipads, seedlings among others to more than 3000 farmers in Nwoya district.

Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister, Ker Kwaro Acholi, says that in most cases, the cultural institution is left out by the investors which is why in some areas; people have continued to languish in abject poverty.

Olaa says that as the cultural institution, they have a clear demand from any investor who intends to establish an investment in the sub Region that seeks to ensure that the livelihoods of the community members in the areas are elevated.

Recently, a study conducted by Uganda Bureau of Statistics put the poverty level in Acholi sub-region at 68%.

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Government injects Shs 527m towards the completion of two health facilities in Alebtong.

ALEBTONG – Government has committed Shs 527m towards the completion of two health facilities in Alebtong district to improve access to healthcare services.

The health facilities were among the 60 in the country to be upgraded to Health Center IIIs by the World Bank program of Inter-governmental Fiscal Transfer in 2019.

The government awarded the contract to Otada Construction Company Ltd and the State Minister for Sports, Denis Hamson Obua, who is also Ajuri county legislator handed over the two facilities to the contractor.

More than Shs 1.2b was earmarked to undertake the construction and upgrading of Angetta and Awei health centres respectively.

The scope of the work was to construct a general ward, improve the out-patient department, construct two twin houses, and ventilated improved pit latrines and a medical waste management system.

But as time progressed, the work stalled and the contractor disappeared according to the area local leadership and the community.

The company abandoned the work due to lack of funds according to sources. The remaining work was roofing, fixing of doors, windows and painting.

The district LC5 Chairperson, David Kennedy Odongo says, the two Sub Counties had no health facilities and service delivery was being hindered due to long distances to the health facilities and high population in those areas. Angetta has 32 villages and Awei 48 respectively.

Through guidance from government, the district sourced for another contractor, Wangi Gen Company Ltd and started undertaking the work in August.

“Right now, they are at the finishing stage,” Odongo said.

“After completion, it will save our people from travelling long distances to seek health services.”

Angetta was carved out of Omoro Sub County in 2018, while Awei was split from Abako six years ago. The two Sub Counties had no Health Center IIIs and the community were travelling between 10 km to 12 km to access health services.

Besides, they don’t have a public secondary school as per the Ministry of Education and Sports guidelines.

The Angetta LC3 Chairperson, Robert Okullo applauded the government for the timely intervention towards the project.

“We were very disappointed when the company [Otada Construction] abandoned the site and vanished without informing us,” Okullo said.

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“They left the work at the ring-beam and since then, they are nowhere to be seen,” Okullo adds when contacted.

Efforts to reach Otada Construction was futile since their known telephone contacts were not available.

Another health facility, Ogwette Health Center II, in Otuke Sub County whose contract was awarded to the same company but was abandoned, has prompted the district to secure another service provider. Approximately, Shs 600m has been earmarked to upgrade the facility.

Peter Okweda, the Ogwette LC3 Chairperson says, the work started on a good note and they thought when accomplished it was going to address the problem of access to health services.

“One year down the road, it has become another big problem again for us as leaders and the community,” he said.

He says right now, a new contractor has been identified and they are just waiting to start the work.

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