President Museveni’s Ugx 850 million Youth Project wasting away in Kanungu District

President Yoweri Museveni feeding the fish as he officially launched the project in 2018 (Photo by Patson Baraire Mushija)

KANUNGU– On May 5th, 2017, President Yoweri Kwguta Museveni was invited and hosted to a dinner by Kanungu Youth Development Association (KAYODEA), an Organisation of youth from Kanungu District.

The Organisation was formed by aimable youth who wanted to start holistic developmental projects in Kanungu District with a focus on job creation and improving the welfare of the youth and the people of Kanungu at large.

President Museveni did not disappoint and he personally attended the function which took at MacKinnon Suits in upscale Nakasero, Kampala.

Given the high profile organisation  of the function, the event was also attended by all Kanungu District Members of Parliament, the LC 5 Chairperson Canon Josephine Kasya and the Diocese of Kinkizi Bishop Dan Zoreka.

During the function, KAYODEA Leadership led by Godfrey Niwagaba presented to the President their work plan that included a fish farming project proposal which would be implemented at a cost of Ugx 850 million.

Kanungu Youth Development Association had carefully carried a baseline survey in Kanungu District and established that the fish farming project was one of the projects that could transform the welfare of the youths because of it’s multiplier effect by providing a chain of employment opportunities from farming to marketing.

Godfrey Niwagaba assured the President that KAYODEA had engaged fish farming consultants who assured them that the project was going to be implemented using modern professional fish farming methods.

KAYODEA Chairman Godfrey Niwagaba receiving President Museveni in Kanungu in 2018 (Photo by Patson Baraire Mushija)

The President was impressed with the brilliance of the Kanungu Youth Development Association ( KAYODEA) and agreed to fund the project and the President directed the State House Comptroller Lucy Nakyoobe to immediately find source of funding for KAYODEA Fish Farming project as it came to be known at the time and work closely with the Youth Leaders to ensure that the project was implemented.

The team that consisted of Nakyoobe and KAYODEA Leadership immediately started serious work by assembling a team to ensure that the project was implemented since Ms Nakyoobe assured the team that the funds for the project had been secured.

One of the contentious issues in the proposal was that KAYODEA needed to procure a piece of land where the fish farming project would be carried out. KAYODEA did not own any land but had provided a cost of procuring a piece of land in Kanungu District where the project would be carried out.

KAYODEA Secretary General Juma Mugisha confided to this Online Publication that on one of the site visits in Kanungu District to scout for where to secure a suitable place which could be procured for the Youths to carry out the fish farming, they we’re reliably welcomed by Kanungu District Local Council and District Executive led by Canon Josephine Kasya who pledged to support the project.

Kanungu District Local Council went ahead and passed a motion allocating them a piece of land located at Maizimera in Kihihi Town Council where the Kanungu Youths farming project would be carried out.

Whereas KAYODEA was the lead Organisation working with State House team led by Nakyoobe to ensure the implementation of Ugx 850 million fish farming project in Kanungu, the District Youths Council felt that it had been sidestepped and left out in the field implementation of the project.

They therefore courted the District Local Council to prevail over State House to ensure that they are wholly involved into the project implementation since they represented the bigger youth structures of the Youth across the district unlike KAYODEA which was an Organisation set up  membership only.

The Ugx 850 million fish ponds in Kanungu district which is wasting away (Photo by Patson Baraire Mushija)

The then District Male Youth Councilor Eliab Nasasira vehemently opposed the ownership of the project by KAYODEA Leadership and asked the District Local Council to put the ownership of the project under Kanungu Youth Council.

On December 21st 2018 President Museveni visited Kanungu district to commission the construction of Kanungu – Rukungiri Road and used the opportunity also to launch the huge fish farming project which had been completed and he personally fed the fish fingerings which had started breeding in the 6 fish ponds which had been put at Maizimera.

The President was pleased with the progress of the  project and even directed Nakyoobe that an extra funding for fish hatchery and feed mill be provided to ensure that Kanungu Youth Fish Farming project becomes the model project in Western Uganda so that other youth can learn from the same.

However, behind the president’s back, Kanungu Youth Council and Kanungu Youth Development Association (KAYODEA) were engaged in ownership struggle and this compelled the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Hajji Shafque Ssekandi to step in and form a committee where the two warring youth parties were brought on board to form a Management committee.

The project was run by the committee and the implementation process went on uninterrupted for another year in which the first harvest was carried out where it’s reported that fish worth Ugx 45M was harvested.

By this time State House team had handed over it’s responsibility to the Management Committee for future sustainable management.

However, it’s reported that the Management Committee failed to put together the implementation process since the initial project was born by KAYODEA Leadership who had pulled out of the management of the project after it became apparent to them that the project had been hijacked from them since no funds were ever handled by them including the proceeds from the sale of the harvested fish.

“The District officials were determined rooting the project and KAYODEA officials opted to sign out of the project  initially the project had a project committee which was formed by the RDC and KAYODEA was represented by 4 officials but when we tried to engage the officials that the project was meant for all the youths in the district, they seemed determined to have fish harvest alone” Juma Mugisha the Secretary General of KAYODEA, who had been put on the management committee told this reporter.

Juma Mugisha also said that after harvesting the first cycle, they stole everything and decided to kill the project and as KAYODEA, they are following the right procedures to reclaim the project from the hands of those mismanaging the useful project.

Kanungu Deputy Resident Commissioner (DRDC) Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaju admitted that the Presidential Youth Fish Farming project has been put to waste and it has become a ‘white elephant’ yet it’s objectives were well intentioned to help transform the lives of the youth in Kanungu.

Rugaju acknowledged that the fish giant Ugx 850 million Kanungu Youth Fish Farming Project was wasting away due to mismanagement.

“The challenge is that the fish have not fed for the last 8 months, the youth leaders harvested fish and sold it, but they never restocked the ponds while the workers who include the porters and the security have not been paid for the last 8 months” Ahimbisibwe Rugaju who visited the fish ponds on Tuesday March 2nd 2021 said.

Members of KAYODEA Leadership present a gift to President Museveni in 2017 where he pledged Ugx 850 million fish project (Photo by Patson Baraire Mushija)

DRDC Ahimbisibwe Rugaju said that he would pursue the matter and someone must give accountability because it’s saddening to see what is happening at the project.

Rugaju said that it’s unfortunate that the little fish still serving have started dying due to starvation and demanded that the President funded project is not frustrated and put to waste.

Godfrey Niwagaba who personally handed the project proposal which  attracted funding from President Museveni  to a tune of Ugx 850 million, said that their good project was politicised and this hindered the development of Kanungu.

He is so disappointed with the district leadership including the only Minister in the district, Area MPs who attended the function where President Museveni announced the release of funds for the fish farming project, the District Chairperson and her Council who allocated the land where the fish ponds were put but kept silent about mismanagement.

“Hundreds of Millions of tax payers money have been put to waste when the top leaders in the District are watching yet they know the truth, because they all witnessed it right from presentation of the project proposal, and subsquent events, but they have let it go to waste” Niwagaba lamented.

Niwagaba however said that as vision bearers, KAYODEA as a group will not be frustrated to give up on such developmental project and will use all available means to ensure that the project serves the purpose it was meant to for.

He called upon the Deputy RDC who has now picked interest in the Kanungu Youth Fish Farming project to make timely intervation and save the giant project from going to waste.

When contacted, the Kanungu District LC 5 Chairperson Canon Josephine Kasya promised to get back to this reporter over the matter when she gets back to office next week.