Author: Odoch Richard Allan
Recently, Caesar Acellam, a former LRA rebel leader called upon the government to come out with special programs that is meant to benefit specifically the war affected persons because the mode of selection for government programs isolated them many times into the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).
Currently, the Government of Uganda is enrolling out a government the recovery development program in the sub-region of Acholi, West Nile, Lango and Teso, which full scale implementation started in 2009 aimed at promoting socio-economic development of the communities of Northern Uganda to bridge the gap between the North and the rest of the country, so that the North achieves “national average level” in the main socio-economic indicators.
Before its full implementation of the cattle restocking, a number of issues were highlighted for considerations and a recommendation and guideline was sent from the Office of the Prime Minister which is the overseer and the coordinating office of the program.
According to the guideline, the each Local government is responsible geographical targeting, using poverty and socio-economic indicators to select beneficiaries and the targeted beneficiaries into the following 10 categories of people;
- Persons Living With HIV/Aids (PLWAs
- Former abductees
- Female headed households
- Child mothers
- Unskilled and unemployed youth
- Persons With Disability (PWDs)
Gulu district for the FY2014/ 15 received 864 herds of cattle at an estimated budget of 956 million under the PRDP program phase two, meant for the 10 targeted beneficiaries.
Gulu district has 12 sub- counties and 54 parishes of which each parish was to receive 16 herds of cattle to be distributed among the ten categories of people from every parish. But it so happened that the program did not benefit the people equally.
Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, the chairman LC5 of Gulu district said selection of the targeted beneficiaries was completely community based and they identified the most needful member from the group to give the cattle to, with guidance from the area LC one, Giso, the district veterinary officer and the sub county chief.
“Selection was community-based and people were in 10 groups as specified by the guideline from the OPM. Each group was to select a person who is vulnerable and have never benefited from any government program like NAADS, CDD, NUSAF, Disability grant so that people who have never benefited from any government program to have the chance. And we made sure every village benefit from the program” he said.
Mapenduzi added that after the selection from within the targeted groups, names were submitted to the parish chief and the Community development officer who tend submit to the Sub County office who then confirm the names and sends to the district without altering the list.
From the recent cattle restocking program in the FY2014/15, the 864 herds of cattle went to the beneficiaries indicated in the table:
TABLE ONE: SHOWING NUMBER OF PRDP RESTOCKING BENEFICIARIES PER SPECIFIC CATEGORY IN THE FY2014/15 FOR ALL SUB-COUNTIES IN GULU DISTRICT.
|SUB-COUNTY||Orphans||Widows||PWDs||Former Abductees||PLWA||Ex-combatants||Female-headed families||Child-mothers||Elderly||Unskilled/unemployed youths||Total herds of cattle|
TABLE TWO: SHOWING NUMBER OF BENEFICIARIES PER GROUP IN GULU DISTRICT
|Orphans||Widows||PWDs||Former Abductees||PLWA||Ex-combatants||Female-headed families||Child-mothers||Elderly||Unskilled/unemployed youths||Total herds of cattle|
- PLWAs- Persons Living with HIV/Aids
- PWDs- Persons With Disability
NB: Two Sub counties of Bungatira and Lalogi never had data for the specific category of beneficiaries who benefitted under the cattle restocking program for the FY 2014/15. Bungatira and Lalogi got 112 and 80 herds of cattle respectively which represents 22% of the 864 total herds of cattle given out in Gulu district in the FY2014/15.
Filder Abalo, a former abductee from Te ogali village, Patuda parish, Ongako Sub County, who said she was forced to missed out on the program yet she was communally selected among the Female headed households to benefit from the program, claiming that the area LC3 of the Sub County connived with a LC 1 chairperson and replaced her name with the name of the LC1’s wife of Te-ogali village.
However, Okumu Emmanuel Luru, the Chairman LC3 of Ongako Sub County denied being involved in that case, saying that the only problem was that there was similar names and that confused them when giving out the animals.
”The Abalos had similar names and the LC1 had them all as wives, but the cow was for the elder wife who was selected by the community but as the Sub County chairperson; I gave the lady who is complaining, two goats under NAADS program to help her boost the poverty in her home,” said the chairperson. “That’s a family fight between co-wives and we cannot give 2 herds of cattle to the same family,” Luru added.
However Abalo Filder denied getting any goat under the NAADS program.
Other Sub Counties that had similar situation of replacement of names are Odek, Koro and Lalogi Sub County.
Tony Aliro, the District Veterinary Officer (DVO) of Gulu district who is among the District Restocking Team said that the guideline that was sent from the OPM had also some other conditions attached to it like available of enough grazing land, money for veterinary services etc
“We are saying we need economically active households who have something to support because we expect them to treat the animals if it’s sick and that is why some targeted beneficiaries missed the opportunity,” he said
“So those ones who are very poor we don’t give because we don’t expect such a person to contribute towards treatment of the animal and we told them very clear during sensitization to have evidence of having enough grazing space,” the DVO added.
In Patiko Sub County which received 48 herds of cattle under the cattle restocking program for the FY2014/15, only youths, the elderly, orphans and widows benefitted from the program and other categories like PWDs, Former abductees, PLWAs, Ex-combatants, Female-headed families and child-mothers missed out.
Moses Awany Andrew, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Gulu district says part of the problem could be that the category of people didn’t turn up at the selection and therefore missed out on the program.
“Situation where some category didn’t benefit means in such Sub County, the intended beneficiary must have not come for the selection meeting because under this program, all the people must come together and identify the most vulnerable persons to benefit. So if you don’t come for the meeting, automatically miss and that’s where the problem. Other factors we failed to notice is the ability of a beneficiary to look after the animal and that’s why some people are already abusing the program by selling off their animals and others keeping the animal in a miserable state,” said the Resident District Commissioner of Gulu district noting that they have handled every complaint they encountered during the implementation of the 2014/2015 restocking program.
Dr. Odong Otara, a veterinary expert attributed the problem to communication gap and inadequate sensitization to the beneficiaries whose needs and the level of their poverty were not well understood at the roll-out of the program.
“It seems investigating whether the intended beneficiaries’ problem could be solved by giving them herds of cattle wasn’t not done well, because there is a big difference between sensitizing the people and coming to talk to the people. For anyone to understand well, you can’t teach that person for only one hour and the same team move in 3-4 places the same day. Like we have been following over the radio, things were done in a speedy way, and the people didn’t understand the whole process and that’s why a lot of people didn’t get the opportunity, said.
Gulu district chairperson, Ojara Martin Mapenduzi advised the people who missed out on the program to wait patiently because the number of the herds of the cattle was too small and there are still other government programs that they can possibly benefit from.
“One herd of cattle for a family is very small, and if you go to parishes, a parish has over 800 people and you only give 16 herds of cattle, it’s really something small. I tried negotiating this at the Ministry but “Acholi Waco ni ma opoto i opony, en aye megi”, said Mapenduzi
The cattle restocking program has evidently failed to benefit the people who were directed affected by the insurgency in Northern Uganda because of the unfavorable selection progress.
Oryem Nyeko, communication and Advocacy team leader at Justice and reconciliation Project Gulu said government programs should have benefitted people equally because the challenge is that there is inadequate data about the number of people in different categories.