Friday, June 14, 2024

Over the years, the Government of Uganda has made significant strides in poverty eradication since assuming power in 1986. Household poverty rates have notably declined from 19.7% in 2013 to 8.4% by 2020. Various government programs like Bonna Bagagawale, Youth Livelihood Program (YLP), Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP), Emyoga, Parish Development Model (PDM) and Micro Scale Irrigation project have been introduced to bolster the participation of citizens in the economy.

These initiatives aim to directly increase the income-generating capacity of the poor, facilitating their integration into Uganda's monetary economy. During a fact-finding mission by the Uganda Media Centre, a random sampling focused on Emyoga, PDM and Micro Scale Irrigation projects in the districts of Katakwi, Soroti, and Bukedea.

According to Maj. Godfrey Katamba, the RDC of Katakwi District, numerous government programs have been implemented to transition people from subsistence to a commercial economy. Notably, the Parish Development Model (PDM) allocated UGX 11.7 billion for the Financial Year 2023/24 and part of 2022/23 to Katakwi District. Almost all this funding, 99.5%, has been disbursed to the people. Additionally, Katakwi District received an extra UGX 5.4 billion for PDM.

To enhance accessibility to these funds, the district has streamlined the process through ordinary commercial banks to 'Wendi,' the government wallet managed by Post Bank. Maj. Katamba highlighted that livestock, particularly goat, sheep, and cattle rearing, is the primary enterprise where people have invested due to Katakwi's status as a cattle corridor.

Katakwi District hosts 42 Emyoga Saccos, which received UGX 1.9 billion. Initially, they were allocated UGX 1.6 billion, with an additional UGX 20 million awarded to the best-performing Saccos, totaling UGX 3.7 billion. These investments have transformed the livelihoods of individuals who ventured into various businesses such as mechanics, produce selling, and boda boda operations. Opio Andrew, from Southern Ward Emyoga Sacco, Katakwi Town Council, received UGX 1,500,000 and established his motorcycle garage. Opio subsequently trained six others who launched their garages, and some are now employed. Through this venture, he has acquired goats, expanded to 25, purchased land, and funded his children's education and he thinks this venture will help achieve a lot more as he also pays back.

In the Western Ward of Katakwi Town Council, the Dokomeri Sheep Rearing Enterprise Group consists of 25 members, with 11 so far benefiting from PDM funds, each receiving UGX 1 million. These members chose sheep rearing due to the high reproductive rate of sheep, which can breed three times a year with proper care. 

The rural setting of Dokomeri ensures ample access to pasture. The group has also established a small savings scheme, which has proven invaluable for unexpected personal and medical emergencies and has helped members achieve personal goals such as paying school fees. One member, Asele Stella Ruth, received UGX 1 million and purchased four sheep, which have since multiplied to eight. She shared that before the PDM program, she had never possessed one million Uganda shillings of her own.

In Soroti City, Achaloi Jane Francis, a member of the Senior Quarters Sacco, received UGX 1 million in July 2023. She invested in 200 one-week-old Sasso chicks, which she raised for a month and then sold for UGX 8,500 each, earning a profit of UGX 1.8 million. Achaloi reinvested her earnings to purchase 300 more chicks, repeating the process and selling them for UGX 2.55 million. She now reports a monthly income of UGX 1,550,000 from selling her one-month-old chicks. Achaloi's experience highlights the potential of the Parish Development Model program to empower individuals and boost household incomes.

The Micro-Scale Irrigation Project, supported by the Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfer Program (UgIFT), was introduced in the Teso region to help farmers purchase and use individual irrigation equipment through a matching grant scheme. The program, which caps support at 2.5 acres, is designed for smallholder farmers looking to transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture. It enables farmers to cope with dry spells, produce during the dry season, and transition to higher-value crops like horticultural crops, oranges, and coffee, capitalizing on more advantageous market prices.

According to Mr. Were Mark, the Agriculture Engineer in Bukedea, this is the second year of the project, which involves co-financing: the government contributes 75% and the farmer 25% for solar micro-scale irrigation systems, while for fuel-powered systems, the government contributes 25% and the farmer 75%. This policy aims to discourage fuel use and reduce air pollution. To qualify, farmers must own land for at least 12 months, have a reliable water source, and be willing to co-finance the project.

Sarah Kongai from Akulet Village, Getom Parish, Katakwi District, received solar micro-scale irrigation equipment worth UGX 22 million. The equipment includes a solar pump, a 5000-liter water tank, and a piping system. From her garden of oranges and vegetables, Kongai saves UGX 500,000 per month.

Mzee Tegu Joseph, a retired teacher from Komongomeri village, Kolir Sub County, Bukedea District, also benefits from the micro-scale irrigation project. Mzei Tegu grows onions for sale. Initially, his onions suffered from a lack of water and ineffective herbicides. Despite this setback, he has established a new nursery bed and plans to transplant it in two weeks. He remains optimistic that year-round crop cultivation will improve his life and provide a legacy for his children.

Looking at the above projects, its visible that government is supporting its people through these various programs and surely they are benefiting and their lives are getting better each day.