Alebtong gets two new health units

ALEBTONG – The construction and upgrading of two health units in Alebtong district to improve access to health services delivery in the district has been completed and now awaits handover.

The health facilities upgraded from health center II to III status include Angetta and Awei according to the local leadership.

Four years ago, the government earmarked Shs 1.8b to upgrade three health units in the district in the first phase of an intergovernmental fiscal transfer program funded by the World Bank.

But according to Bonney Ocen, the Chairperson Works and Technical Services of Alebtong, Anara health unit which was among the construction projects to be completed is not convincing the district leadership.

“The construction of Angetta and Awei are complete but for Anara, we are not satisfied with the work and we want the contractor to come back on the site and correct some areas,” Ocen says.

For Angetta and Awei, Wangi Gen Company Ltd was undertaking the work and Anara was awarded to Power and Bay Company Ltd.

The scope of the work was construction of general ward, improvement of out-patient department, putting in two twin houses, construction of VIP latrine, placenta pit and medical waste.

The district Secretary for Education and Health, Jamila Kasim says the construction of another two health units which include Abia and Akura are ongoing in this second phase of the projects.

“Anara is almost complete and is due for handover but during our monitoring and supervision, we identified some defects which need to be corrected before we receive it,” she said.

Kasim says the five sub-counties didn’t have health center III as required by the government and the Ministry of Health.

She says, by establishing and uplifting the facilities, delivery will be conducted, an increased number of health workers, services shall improve and immunization will be conducted.

There has been a delay in the completion of the three health units since 2019 after Otada Construction Company Ltd encountered financial challenges and they abandoned the sites.

Since there was an urgent need for health services because of the high population, the government gave the district a blessing to source for a new firm to finish the work.

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Alebtong residents offer land to UPDF

ALEBTONG – Residents of Aloi sub-county in Alebtong district have offered 46.89 hectares of land to Uganda People’s Défense Forces (UPDF) to establish military barracks.

The residents led by John Odepe handed over the land to State Minister for Defence, Jacob Oboth Oboth on 1st March 2, 2022 in a meeting held at the district council hall.

They urged the government to refund Shs11m they spent in an attempt to pursue the matter before court, establish a primary school, health unit and connect pipe water in the area since it is hard to drill a borehole in the area.

The barracks located near Ogini hill was established in the Obote I regime to train soldiers on heavy weapons such as artillery, mortar, anti tank among others. It was also used by Koreans to train the army.

The district LC5 Chairperson, David Kennedy Odongo said the area has 50 households and there is need for the establishment of secondary and primary schools, a health facility and put special consideration during UPDF recruitments.

“We are requesting you (UPDF) to give us four slots for our qualified young people during the recruitment exercise,” Odongo says.

Minister Oboth Oboth welcomed the development saying, the government will consider the request including meeting the cost incurred by the communities to pursue the matter before court.

Few years ago, the communities in the affected villages dragged UPDF to court claiming the soldiers should be evicted because they have settled in the land illegally.

But in 2017, the former 5th division commander, Brigadier Micheal Kabango held a meeting with the communities, local leaders and MPs who include Samuel Okwir Odwee of Moroto, Denis Hamson Obua of Ajuri and Christine Achen of Alebtong and put the matter to rest.

Odongo also requested the UPDF to consider giving the people income generating activities such as a SACCO, and train them on village saving and loan association to enable them become economically empowered.

He said the level of poverty in the district is so high and there is urgent need to join hands such that the vice is eradicated.

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Government releases Shs1.5b for two new seed secondary schools in Alebtong

ALEBTONG – The government has released Shs1.5b to kick start the construction of two seed secondary schools in Alebtong district.

State Minister for Sports, Denis Hamson Obua says, the two new schools will be established in Awei and Angetta sub-counties. The two administrative units didn’t have secondary schools since its creation a few years back.

Delivering the good news to LC1 and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders at Angetta Primary School on Saturday 12th February, Obua said, Adwir sub-county created out of Omoro, missed the opportunity because they failed to avail land for the construction of the new school.

Obua says, four administrative units which include; Amugu, Adwir, Awei and Angetta in Ajuri county have no secondary schools but the government is struggling to ensure that it’s established to help the communities’ access secondary education.

He requested the communities to offer land for the construction of schools to show their seriousness as part of their contribution.

“If there is no land, there will also be no school because the government cannot build the school on air,” Obua tells residents of Angetta.

Last year, Obua wrote to the Permanent Secretary requesting to consider establishing secondary schools in the sub-counties since it’s a government policy to set one seed school for each sub-county in the country.

He also informed the District Education Officer (DEO) to link up with the sub-county political and technical leadership to identify at least five hectares of land within the sub-county where the school will be established.

The Angetta LC3 Chairperson, Robert Okullo said, when he received the communication, he descended on resource mobilization and identification of land.

He says, each household in the sub-county raised Shs 13,000 which made them realize Shs 13.5m within seven months.

“We put our heads together without any resistance and raised the money,” Okullo says, adding that the communities were cooperative and wanted development.

Obua says, he was impressed because the community moved fast and offered land for the project.

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8 Alebtong schools request for government intervention

ALEBTONG – Eight primary schools in Alebtong district are calling for urgent intervention from Ministry of Education and Sports after their roofs were blown off by heavy wind during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The schools calling for urgent intervention include; Telela, Angopet, Amugu Quran, Alela morden, Omarari, Angicakide, Teamyel and Amononeno. The schools also have dilapidated classrooms, staff houses and poor toilet facilities.

“The schools are without a functional water source for the learners and teachers despite water being critical in the fight against COVID-19,” said David Kennedy Odongo, the district LC5 boss.

Late last year, President Yoweri Museveni announced the reopening of the economy and education institutions after two years of lockdown.

According to a report by Communication for Development Uganda, 23,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the Lango sub-region during the lockdown as most parents abandoned their roles as guardians to their children.

Approximately, 15 million learners were sent home in March 2020 and resumed classes on 10th January 2022 with challenges ranging from dilapidated structures, collapsed toilets, shortage of classrooms and cracked structures.

Odongo said, the situation is alarming and it is beyond the capacity of the district as it is an emergency.

“The borehole which was serving the schools broke down and we need government intervention to repair it,” he said.

The District Education Officer (DEO), Moses Olwit appealed to development partners to support the rehabilitation and repair of the broken water sources.

He said, there is an urgent need for an emergency fund to support the fixing of the dilapidated and risky classrooms including toilets.

In Apac, the district Secretary for Health and Education, Sam Opira said though the schools have reopened, there is need for the government to undertake major rehabilitations.

“Most of them need rehabilitation but other schools have done due diligence and worked on them,” he said, adding that they advised them to improvise and bring the school to a manageable state to ensure learning takes place.

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Government launches study materials in Lango sub-region

LANGO – As the government prepares to reopen schools, Ministry of Education and Sports has launched home study materials in Lango region to cover both primary and secondary schools.

The home study materials will cater for primary one, four and senior five to ensure continuous learning, remedial learning and reawaken the learners.

State Minister for Sports, Denis Hamson Obua launched the distribution of the materials which will cover Kole, Alebtong, Lira, Kwania, Apac, Dokolo, Oyam and Amolatar districts.

President Yoweri Museveni closed education institutions last year as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as a result 15 million learners were sent back home. On the 1st November 2021, the government ordered the institution to resume studies.

Obua said, as they fully plan to re-open schools, stakeholders who include teachers, parents and pupils should prepare so that the exercise doesn’t take them by surprise.

Obua expressed concern over teenage pregnancy in the country saying children are not safe in the hands of their parents except in school.

He said children have become unsafe which means parents have abandoned their responsibility to guide their children.

“If children are not safe because schools were closed as a result of Covid-19, where else do you think they will be safe,” Obua asked.

According to the police and local leadership in Alebtong, 2,190 cases of teenage pregnancies were recorded in the district within the period of January to July, over 2500 in Kwania, 1,800 in Apac, 2,074 in Amolatar and more than 2,000 in Otuke.

“If nothing is done to save the situation, it will be worse in the next few months,” said Alebtong LC5 Chairperson, David Kennedy Odongo who is also the Chairperson of Lango LCV Chairpersons.

He also advised the government to fix the roofs of four primary schools in the district whose roofs were blown off.

“Alebtong district is more than ready to teach effectively if the situation allows next year,” he says.

He identified the schools whose roofs were blown off as Baropiro, Omarari, Amononeno and Amugu quran.

He said the district is setting up village education committees, parishes and sub-counties to mobilize the community to embrace education.

On secondary education, Odongo said if the government is to improve on sciences, they should build laboratories in all the schools in the sub-region and equip them.

“Unless we have functional laboratories in our schools, science will still be history,” he said.

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Alebtong district failed to recover Shs. 840m from youth projects

ALBETONG – Alebtong district has failed to recover Shs 840m which the government released to support various youth projects in the district.

The money was disbursed to supplement Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) and Youth Venture Fund (YVF) in three financial years (2014/2015, 2017/2018, 2019/2020) according to the district LC5 boss, David Kennedy Odongo.

He said the district received Shs1.4b in these financial years to support the projects but since then they have recovered only Shs153m.

“The financial support was given to youth groups and they were supposed to get, use it and repay but a number have failed to repay,” Odongo said.

His comment followed the recent concern raised by the District Youth Chairperson, Robert Ocen during the youth day celebration. He further said, government was at the stage of scrapping the Youth Livelihood Program and redirecting the funds to the Parish Development Program.

“The youth are leaving in fear that Youth Livelihood Program which was the only program to facilitate youth activities will soon be no more,” Ocen was quoted as saying during the celebration held at Alebtong primary school.

Odongo said with the figure of Shs 840 unrecovered, it means a lot of money is still with the youth though they are crying for government support, marginalization and scrapping of youth development projects.

He also said, the government has already invested a lot on youth and their budget for this financial year 2021/2022 to the tune of Shs29b and allocated Shs14b for education.

“When you talk about education, it means you are talking about the youth who are going to be future leaders,” he added.

“The government injected Shs 2b for the construction of Abia Seeds Secondary School, Shs1.8b for Awei and Shs800m for Angetta Secondary School,” said Odongo.

He advised young people to embrace government programs such as Emyooga and Parish Development Program which are due to be kicked off.

“Work on your mindset and avoid the blame game if you want to progress,” he added.

He said under the Emyooga program, the district has received Shs 1.1b and what has already been disbursed is Shs 370m.

Ocen requested the government to extend the repayment period of Emyooga to one year and relax other conditions required to access the money.

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COP26: UNEP calls for more efforts on climate finance and adaptation plans

GLASGOW – Finance for climate change adaptation as well as implementation plans are still very low, despite increasing policies and planning for climate change mitigation, a new report published by United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, has said.

The Adaption Gap Report, 2021: The Gathering Storm, says although the world is focused on stepping up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, there is a need to “dramatically up our game to adapt,” as climate impacts continue to outpace attempts to adapt to them,” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP.

The report was launched on Thursday as world leaders continued to hold discussions at Glasgow in the 26th UN conference on climate change, to jointly attempt to limit global warming, in fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

In 2001, the Adaptation Fund was created under the Kyoto Protocol to finance real adaptation projects in developing countries that are most vulnerable to the harsh effects of climate change.

Adaptation and climate finance are the first two goals of the COP26, aiming at urging countries affected by climate change to “protect and restore their ecosystems and build defenses, warning and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives,” through various programs.

However, Anderson said, adaptation financing is still a huge concern because the gap between what we need to spend to adapt and what we are spending is widening, and could reach $ 280-500 billion each year by 2050 for poor countries alone.

The report adds that although international public adaptation finance has risen by 50% between 2017-2020, it is still low.

The report recognizes that climate change adaptation is increasingly being embedded in policy and planning worldwide by countries. At least 79% of all countries are said to be using at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument, showing a 7% rise since 2020.

Andersen said, all these efforts are not yet enough, even if the tap on greenhouse gas emissions were to be turned off today.

“We need to scale up further and increase public adaptation finance including but not limited to overcoming barriers for private sector engagement, as implantation at current rates may not keep pace with increasing levels of climate change.”

“This UNEP report clearly shows that we need to change our adaptation ambition for funding and implementation, to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change. And we need it now,” she said.

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