Gulu City Misses out on Special National Disability Grant

GULU – The Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in Gulu City have demanded government inclusion for the national special disability grant.

The national disability grant is from an Act of Parliament to support persons with disabilities in groups with start-up capital to eliminate poverty among the people living with disabilities.

The fund was established under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development targeting at least between five to fifteen members from each group with a livelihood support of Shs 5 million.

The Chairperson, Gulu district Councilor for disability, Patrick Komakech, revealed that 22 groups from Gulu district have received the money to support their businesses since the implementation was launched three years ago.

However, he noted that none of the groups from Gulu City received any support for the special program, a situation which he blamed on lack of structural organization in the City.

“We are hopeful that Gulu City will start getting the same support now that the Council has instituted the Disability Council,” Komakech added.

The Chairperson, Gulu Disabled Persons Union, Geoffrey Alli says, the Members of the Disability Council are directly charged with the identification of the beneficiaries and will oversee the implementation of the different government projects targeting the persons with disabilities in the City.

The Council is composed of the five members that include; Komakech Patrick, the Former Chairperson Disability Council Gulu District. Patrick Komakech who now represents the youth and Peter Ouma who represents the Development Partners supporting disability in the City.

Others are the former male Councillor V, Roland Anywar, Maltrix Apiyo and Rose Aparo who represented the families of children with disabilities in the Council. Unfortunately, she passed on after her appointment.

Sections of the Persons with Disabilities which have opposed the appointment of the Committee have withdrawn the petition and agreed to work with the team.

Bosco Oryem has urged the new Council to work with the structures in the villages as he withdrew the petition against the Union and Gulu City Council.

“If it’s the petition that will block us from getting this support, then we have withdrawn but that doesn’t mean we will sit and watch over the Council if our interests aren’t protected,” Oryem added.

The team will jointly work with all heads of departments within the City Council in the enforcement and the implementation of the different projects and programs.

The Area Member of Parliament Joyce Acan says, conflict of interest arising from the different groups did not only affect the Union but the livelihoods of the vulnerable persons in the City compared to the other districts.

She revealed that while persons with Disabilities in Gulu are yet to be considered for the national disability special grant, at least 84 groups from Kitgum have benefitted from the project worth Shs 440 million.

“The fund can only be supervised when the structure is established and this is the challenge, we are facing in Gulu City. The problem will likely continue if they have failed to put aside their differences and work together,” Acan told theCooperator in a recent interview.

Florence Acen, the Chairperson Persons with Disabilities at Alokolum in Bardege-Layibi division says, they had been applying for the grant in the last three years in vain.

Betty Aol Ocan, the Woman Member of Parliament for Gulu City also urged the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to consider supporting the vulnerable persons within Gulu City in the second quarter of the financial year.

Just like Acan, Aol equally has appealed to the union to strengthen coordination and to account for the support being channeled for persons with disabilities in the City.

According to the 2014 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the prevalence of disability in the Country was at 12.5% with a projection of 4.8 million people living with disabilities.

Meanwhile, the report by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development indicates that 17% of adults in the country are living with disabilities, 7% are children aged 5-17 and 4% are children below five years.

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