By: Ismael Kasooha
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja has said that the government is to empower local leaders in Karamoja to be role models to the communities they lead.
Nabbanja was on Friday addressing over 250 local leaders from Karamoja sub region at Oliver Reginald Tambo school of leadership and Pan African center of excellence Kaweweta in Nakaseke District.
Nabbanja thanked the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs for organising this Ideological Orientation Course, which she said helped the leaders to appreciate their role in forging unity for sustainable peace and socioeconomic transformation.
“As a leader, who cherishes NRM principles of Democracy, Patriotism, Pan Africanism and Socio-economic transformation, you are expected to influence people through leading by example. A leader must persuade and influence people instead of suppressing their feelings,” said Nabbanja.
She said that the principle of democracy was key and once a leader understood and implemented this principle, they would serve the legitimate interests of Ugandans without fear or favour.
“The principle of democracy will help you observe the rule of law, be accountable and make people-centered decisions. Such decisions cushion leaders from various forms of social ills such as corruption and sectarianism. Once you understand these four NRM principles and integrate them into your work ethic, you become ideologically immunized. This safeguards you from social ills like corruption and sectarianism,” noted Nabbanja.
The Premier told the leaders that there could not be socio-economic development without security.
“As local leaders in Karamoja, you can attest to this. Internal and external attacks that Karamoja has experienced for several years have led to huge human and socioeconomic losses,” said Nabbanja.
She said that security creates a conducive environment for all other things, including investments, democracy and socioeconomic transformation, to take place.
Interventions in Karamoja
To deal with the problem of insecurity and reverse its effects, the NRM Government has implemented several socioeconomic transformation programmes in Karamoja. Some of these include;
(i) The Government, through OPM has constructed over 80 valley tanks in Karamoja since 2012
(ii) Constructed five large water reservoirs in Longoromit in Kaabong, Kailong in Kotido, Kawomeri in Abim, Arechek in Napak, and Kobebe in Moroto
(iii) The Government, through OPM, constructed eight small-scale irrigation facilities in the 2016/2017 financial year
(iv) The Government has been implementing the School Feeding Program in close to 400 schools
(v) The Government, through OPM, has since 2015 been implementing the ‘Karamoja Feeds Karamoja’ initiative launched by the First Lady. It is intended to demonstrate that Karamoja can increase food production and inspire other people to engage in food production. The Government injects UGX500M into this initiative per year
(vi) Distribution of over 12,000 Oxen and Heifers
(vii) Distribution of over 34,000 iron sheets by 2022
(viii) Provision of 48 Grinding Mills for Women’s Groups
(ix) Provision of 550 sewing machines to Women’s Groups
(x) Distribution of 10 tractors and 48 walking tractors
The premier said that currently, the Government is pursuing the following interventions to further promote food security and socioeconomic transformation in Karamoja.
(i) Promotion of agricultural production alongside pastoralism to enable the farmers to have food throughout the year
(ii) Provision of appropriate storage facilities to avoid food wastage during bumper harvests
(iii) Support and lease land that is not being utilised to progressive farmers to increase local food production in the region
(iv) Supporting local and opinion leaders like you to act as models by setting up demonstration farms in their respective areas
(v) Introduction of simple localised irrigation farming to facilitate food production throughout the year
(vi) Introduction of fast-maturing crops by providing inputs
(vii) Monitoring drought situation through an Early Warning System and providing relevant information to farmers to guide their farming activities
(viii) Provision of iron sheets and goats to the reformed warriors (K aracunas) as guided by H.E. the President. The Parliament approved a supplementary budget for UGX. 39.9 billion to finance these interventions
(i) Mobilisation of donor support towards the development of Karamoja region
(ii) Fencing off animal conservation areas with electric barriers to prevent the destruction of farms by wildlife
(iv) Construction of strategic water reservoirs in Karamoja for irrigation and animals
(v) Continuous mobilisation of large-scale farmers in areas surrounding Karamoja to produce food that can help feed the sub-region
(i) Ministry of Works and Transport to work on all security roads
(ii) Construction of 16 strategic dams or water reservoirs for both irrigation and animal production
(iii) Provision of tractors by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to promote mechanisation and large-scale food production in the region
(iv) The Parish Development Model and Emyooga
(v) Mindset change
Nabbanja said that the NRM government came with a plan to develop Karamoja and was among the 10 point programmes of the NRM. She said that leaders need to be change agents if they are to help their communities for socio-economic transformation.
The Premier said that President Yoweri Museveni prioritized the wellbeing for the people of Karamoja, the reason he established an affirmative ministry under the office of the prime Minister to address specific challenges affecting Karamoja.
She appealed to the leaders to help the people not depend on cattle keeping alone but diversify incomes.
Nabbanja appealed to the leaders to advise the public against land fragmentation and mobilise them to embrace the four-acre model promoted by H.E. The President for improved household incomes.
“I want to assure you of the NRM Government’s commitment to transforming Karamoja. All you need to do as leaders is to ensure that the Government’s programmes are effectively implemented so that Karamoja can catch up with the other parts of the country,” she said.
Maj. General Henry Matsiko, the UPDF Chief Political Commissar said that the situation the Karamojong were going through was not their own making.
Matsiko said that the training was meant to orient the leaders to the development agenda of the country.
Felix Mark Lochaale, the Karenga LC V Chairperson who spoke on behalf of the leaders, said that they were prepared and energized to develop Karamoja.
The leaders from Karamoja sub region include LC V Chairpersons, District Councilors, LC III Chairpersons under their association Karamoja patriotic Leaders.
They underwent a three-week training emphasizing leadership skills, appreciating government programmes and benchmarking on what other leaders from Nakaseke were doing in the transformation agenda.
President Yoweri Museveni was expected to preside over the closure of the training the next day.