Parliament Of Uganda:
Karenga district officials (L-R): John Bosco Okello (PDM Focal Person), Hellen Auma and Charles Uma (CAO, Karenga district) appearing before the Committee on Public Service on Monday 23 October 2023.
Members of Parliament on the Public Service and Local Government Committee have expressed concern with the level of implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme in the Karamoja sub-region.
MPs raised the concern while meeting with district leaders from Karenga, Kole, Napak and Otuke districts on Monday, 23 October 2023.
According to Committee Chairperson, Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the status of implementation of PDM in Karamoja sub-region stands at 15 per cent, following a report by area MPs who visited their respective constituencies.
“This is very worrying. Karamoja received money which is lying on SACCO accounts but the beneficiaries are not able to access it,” Mapenduzi observed.
The report made by area MPs from their field assessment of PDM progress cited a number of challenges including access to bank services and other administrative requirements.
“In a district like Karenga, people have to travel all the way to Moroto to access the services of banks. Someone has to move over 140km and this has very serious implications on the implementation of the programme,” Mapenduzi added.
Charles Uma, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Karenga district, said he had recently been appointed to serve in the position, having moved from Nakasongola district.
He attributed the slow uptake of the programme in the district to poor administration.
“The CAO whom I replaced was not physically at the station, but was operating from his home in Mbale. The district being run remotely did not make it easy for the PDM team to do what was expected of them,” said Uma.
He responded to Mapenduzi’s concerns that only four wards out of the 37 in Karenga district have been brought on board, saying the purpose was to ensure success in a small area and then escalate it.
“We prioritised two administrative units in Napore West and Dodoth West constituencies. But because the issues were too many, we realised we needed to concentrate to have impact and that is how Karenga Town Council was heavily supported,” Uma added.
Hon. Paul Omara raised concerns that authorities tasked with disbursing money for PDM activities were charging beneficiaries a percentage to activate their accounts.
“They are extracting some of this money as part of their allowances. They justified it saying that they do not have money to undertake activities. The beneficiaries have to part with money for administrative purposes,” Omara said.
Hon. Philiphs Lokwang Ilukol (NRM, Napore West County) faulted PDM authorities for their failure to sensitize the public on the purpose of funds disbursed under the programme.
“I asked the youth in my area what the PDM money was for, and they told me they knew it as a handshake from the president or some kind of personal drinking money,” said Ilukol.
Hon. Ben Baatom (NRM, Dodoth West County) said internet connectivity is one of the biggest challenges that ought to be addressed to support activities like data entry.
“If the issue of connectivity is not addressed, it means that however much they put in effort, the beneficiaries need a lot of money to move to where there is good network to process their payments,” Baatom said.
John Bosco Okello, the PDM focal person in Karenga district, said there is need for telecom companies to improve internet connectivity, and also called for support to procure laptops and printers at sub-county level.
“This will enable the organisation and printing of payment vouchers for beneficiaries,” he added.