Will the Parish Development Model live up to its billing?

by Agaba Michael
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President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday officially launched the Parish Development Model (PDM), a
flagship programme that the government hopes will help lift the majority of Ugandans out of poverty.

According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2019/20, the number of people living in poverty
has increased from 6.7 million in 2012/13 to 8.3 million in 2019/20—with corresponding proportionate
increase in poverty levels among urban residents.

The government has this financial year ending June, 2022 given each parish Shs 17 million for residents
to choose and implement an enterprise. This will be increased to Shs100m in the financial year 2022/2023.

Under the programme, women and youth groups will each receive 30% of the disbursed finances,
Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly will get 10% each while the balance will be shared
between men and other programme implementation costs.

President Museveni says the Parish Development Model will lift 3.5 million households out of subsistence farming to the money economy, adding to the gains of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

But some rights activists and political leaders argue that the formula prescribed by the government to
share the cash between groups will make it hard for the fund releases to have tangible impact.

There is also concern that parishes have no capacity to implement a programme of this magnitude.
The Kanungu district chairman Sam Kajojo says there are capacity constraints in parishes to manage
such monies.

“Without proper capacity building, it will be difficult for some parish chiefs that have never handled any
government budget of, say Shs3m, to handle a Shs 100m project in their areas of jurisdiction,” he says.

Mr. Michael Lakony, the Amuru district chairman, says because the programme lacks the guiding
principles to aid implementation and supervision, it could likely fail like the previous government
programmes in the region.

“There is nothing like sub-county approval and the question is ‘how will the district executives take part
in overseeing the performance of the programme?’ We received no orientation and details about the
programme, which makes it very difficult,” he says.

While appearing before Parliament’s Budget Committee in January, Julius Mukunda, the Executive
Director of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) told MPs that although the Model is a good
idea, Uganda is not yet ready to implement it.

Mukunda said that there are still a number of issues that need to be streamlined like availability and
training of the parish chiefs. He also warned that Uganda risks losing a lot of funds, if the money is sent to parishes when not ready.

“If today we send money down there when they are not prepared, I can assure you that money will be
lost. So to avoid loss of money, it is very important that we invest in readiness. If it means taking off a
whole year in in piloting the model in one or two districts, then let it be,” he said.

He suggested that the Parish Development Model is instead piloted in a few districts, as government
organizes itself to implement the program fully.

Mr. Andrew Awany, the Kole district chairman, said unless the government comes up with unique
strategies to implement PDM, the new programme might collapse just like past poverty-reduction
interventions that he said yielded limited dividends for beneficiaries.

“Segmenting the Shs 100m, with Shs 30m going to the youth, Shs 30m going to the women, Shs 10m going
to People with Disabilities (PWDs) and Shs 10m going to the rest will make the money appear little and
may not even be remitted by the government in time,” he says.

Mr. Patrick Kisekuulo, the Kyotera District chairperson says the district technical team and leaders have not yet been trained about the new government programme because no funds have been allocated for
the activity. The district has 56 parishes.

According to Mr. Moses Banji, a Councillor representing Kyali Ward at Mpigi Town Council, says they have not fully been taught what to do. “We are not yet ready because even some parish chiefs have not
yet reported to office,” he says.

Gender Minister Betty Amongi, recently explained that the Parish Development Committee (PDC) to
implement the PDM shall comprise seven categories of officials.

“The entry point to the PDM is the PDC, chaired by the Local Council II chairperson and it has seven
members, with the secretary being the parish chief,” she said.

She explained that other members of the committee include; the Chairperson Women Council of the
parish, Chairperson Youth Council of the parish, chairperson, Councillor representing Persons with
Disability (PWD) in the parish council, representative of either a community-based organization, opinion
leader or business community, and parish chairperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement
(NRM) party.

She said that under the PDM, the Cabinet ring-fenced 70% of the money for special interest groups, which includes 30% for youth, 30% for women and 10% for PWDs.


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