OPINION– The NRM government has continued to engineer and cook ways of improving the livelihoods of Ugandans, but all in vain. The most recent on agenda is the Parish Development Model. All these ways are geared towards poverty alleviation in the Ugandan citizenry.
Incidentally, almost all the policies that government has put up to do this have not yielded much result. Previously we had the Plan to Modernize Agriculture, Boona Bagagawale, NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation, Entandikwa, the Youth and Women funds, Emyooga etc.
Most of these were not well thought-out, planned and later on thoroughly implemented projects; no wonder they have not effectively and massively impacted the lives of Ugandans as was intended.
In most cases, these are not born out of an open, conscious and well informed process that exposes them to an all-round analysis in which the public is privy to their formulation, assessment and implementation. And the price we have paid for this mistake has been very heavy on the Ugandan society – economically, socially, or otherwise.
Now, the Parish Development Model is supposed to be a pro-people grassroots oriented model for initiation of services needed by the wanainchi right at the lowest level of planning, which will now be the Parish. It is supposed to encompass seven pillars of production, infrastructure and economic services, financial inclusion and social services, community data, governance and administration, and mindset change. All these are supposed to be implemented through a revolving fund of about 40 millions per parish (parliament has since cut the money by half). There are a number of issues to look at as far as this new model is concerned.
There are 10,594 parishes in Uganda which must all be transformed by this new model. My concern here is how we expect a parish to be impacted by just 20 or 30 or even 50 million shillings. According to the plan, the parishes are supposed to form SAACOs which are supposed to borrow this money and use it. The money then revolves through other SAACOs after recovery. This has no difference from the projects we have been having in the Youth and Women Funds and the other projects.
Secondly, the administration of this model is meant to be implemented by parish chiefs who are not in place in a number of parishes. The government has to recruit over 5000 parish chiefs. It must also operationalize quite a number of sub-counties and town councils which are not operational to enable the smooth running of the parishes under them.
But also, we can’t talk about the implementation of the model with out talking about the corruption that has eaten up our society. The funds that are allocated for the implementation of projects are often not only reduced by administrative costs from top to bottom but also in many cases swindled along the way. There’s no discipline that can guarantee the smooth transfer of money money from the center right to the intended beneficiaries. We must therefore first fix these gaps in financial administration.
In establishing the Parish Development Model, essentially, we’re also admitting our failure in empowering our already established local government structures to transform the lives of our people. Our districts and sub-counties could have already created the success we desire to achieve in this model only that we have not empowered them to do so. If planning, ‘financing’ and implementation of of public policy was semi-autonomously done at the Local Government level, we wouldn’t need to be struggling to patch up.
Talk about issues of infrastructure development, provision of education services, health care, water, electricity etc and how the presence or absence of them affects socioeconomic transformation. I really believe this is going to have the same fate as those projects that have gone before it; to the dustbin. And that Ugandans will still come out as poor, as struggling and as less empowered as ever before.
Seith Kangume Barigye,
Commentator on strategic social and political issues.