Will the Parish Development Model end household poverty?

For more than 35 years, the government has come out with various approaches and mechanisms of fighting poverty with the bigger aim of moving the country into a middle-income status.

Some of the interventions include; the Etandikwa, Bonagagawale, Youth Livelihood Program, the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program, recently Emyooga and the latest being the Parish Development Model (PDM) where the government intends to inject at least Shs30 million per financial year to each of the 12,000 parishes in the country.

The objective of the PDM is to provide incentives and support to smallholder farmers to use their land more productively to boost household incomes, strengthen coordination, monitoring and reporting of government programmes, promote Local Economic Development (LED) by guiding and supporting beneficiaries at village level with economic activities through extension services and increase community/citizen participation in development.

In a recent statement by Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister for Information Communication and Technology (ICT) said, the model will see development activities planned for and executed in parishes, at the lowest level for planning and development, as the government moves to advance the benefits of decentralization.

He said the initiative aims to spring the nearly 39% of households from subsistence economy to commercial production.

With just months if not weeks to the launch of the implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM), in this article, we understand how much the community knows about the model, and whether it can finally sink the final nail on the fight against poverty and the question of corruption.

How much do the community and implementers know about the Parish Development Model?

Godfrey Ojok, the Secretary Gulu East Boda-boda Cyclist’s Association says, he has only heard of the model over radio where politicians talk about it and how it will help in fight poverty.

Ojok says, he is yet to understand how the program will be implemented, what’s the role of people like him in the project and how the money will come and be utilized.

“What I am yet to understand is whether this money is a revolving fund, is it a grant or it will be inform of loans just like other previous government projects like the UWEP, and the Youth Livelihood Fund,” Ojok notes.

“What beats my understanding is, I have heard the technical people coming out clearly to talk about this Parish Development Model. How then will we as the poor people fully utilize it to fight poverty if we even find difficulties in understanding how the program is going to work?” Ojok wondered.

Emmanuel Ocen, a resident of Atoro, in Lakang sub-county in Amuru district just like Ojok has minimal understanding of the Parish Development Model.

According to Ocen, given the distance with the sub-county and district headquarters, they tend to miss out on government programs and predict this could just be among the many programs they have missed.

Ocen says, with the level of scanty information especially for the people in the rural and far to reach areas, this model which requires a lot of engagements and meetings is headed for a failure.

Roselyn Ajum, a 58-year-old resident of Awila village in Akokoro sub-county in Apac district, says that the area LCIII Chairperson has had several engagements with already established groups including women, youth, and other groups to sensitize them on the model.

Ajum is however concerned that the manner in which the information about the model is being released is unrealistic.

“We hear that there’s a booklet on the model which community members should study and internalize to better understand how they can fully participate and mitigate poverty in our communities, but to my dismay, the details about the Parish Development Model are very difficult to access,” Ajum notes.

Michael Lakony, the LCV Chairperson of Amuru district in an interview with theCooperator wondered how the program will be implemented especially at the lower local governments without guiding policies.

“We haven’t read or even seen any clear policy on how the model is going to be implemented, especially by the local government and lower local governments. What we have is the concept of the model and its objectives, implementation is not practical without any guiding document,” Lakony says.

Lakony also noted that in addition to lack of guiding policies, Council as the governing body in the district, has been eliminated in the implementation and supervision of the program.

“Like any other government program, you would expect the district council to have a final say on how any government program or fund will be allocated and utilized upon approval. This is not the case with the Parish Development Model, so how will the monitoring be done?” Lakony argues.

In a recent statement made by Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister for ICT, further sensitizations especially for the community members, the parish development committee members, the Parish Chiefs are among other key stakeholders that will be organized before the eventual launch and implementation of the development model.

Can the PDM give the final punch to the fight against poverty?

Geoffrey Oceng Osborn, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner (RDC) is very optimistic that this model will have a significant impact in the fight against poverty. Unlike the previous government interventions where Oceng says were pushed from Kampala, the Parish Development Model will see the interest of the community funded.

“The reason why other previous programs failed was because the planners sit in their offices in Kampala and think for the people in the rural areas without understanding the scope and the actual challenges affecting the community members,” Oceng explains.

“Under this program, the community members will be in charge of coming out with their area development plans and priorities which will then be funded by the government and this is where I feel if we can plan well, we can definitely eliminate poverty and improve our livelihoods in our respective communities,” said Oceng.

Alfred Okwonga, the Gulu City Mayor, is also optimistic however, he wants the priorities and interests of a given area followed.

According to Okwonga, it would also be necessary for the lower local councils to actively participate in the planning processes so that the plans approved by the development committees are absorbed in the development plans for a holistic development of the communities.

Speaking recently to journalists at the Uganda Media Center, the government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said, “Although NRM has rebuilt a vibrant state, it hasn’t hit a decisive blow in the poverty fight. Consumer goods are plenty but there isn’t much creativity, innovation, and productivity at the household and community levels to push socio-economic transformation, sustained prosperity and enjoyment of wealth.”

Opondo contends that for the fight against poverty to be won, there’s a need to have focused, capable, committed, and motivated personnel.

According to Opondo, in recent years, the government and political parties claimed to have large numbers of activists in rural areas, yet there is very limited success in actualizing wealth creation even among those so-called leaders.

“The fundamental solution is for rural areas to rely on their own people and officials. There is a need to make the training of those engaged in poverty alleviation and wealth creation at lower levels a top priority. We should also make this training rotational so as to shift experience from successful areas to those yet to achieve,” Opondo stated on the Uganda Media Center website.

Anthony Akol, an economist by profession, also the Chairperson Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) fears corruption might still eat up the model just like other previous programs where the largest percentage of the funds remained either in Kampala, for sensitization workshops and monitoring and the smallest percentage given for the implementation of the activities.

Akol says, whereas on paper the model seems “clean and legitimate,” the implementation should not be hurried especially the formation of the parish development committees.

“The members chosen must be honest and impartial so that they are not marred by cadres who will just be looking for where to eat money and frustrate government efforts in fighting poverty,” she added.


Buy your copy of thecooperator magazine from one of our countrywide vending points or an e-copy on emag.thecooperator.news

The post Will the Parish Development Model end household poverty? appeared first on The Cooperator News.