Wednesday, December 21, 2011

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA H.E. Gen. YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI

RE: COTTON FARMERS CONCERNS

Mr. President , I wish to refer you to the National Development Plan of the Republic of Uganda which you approved and made public, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Campaign Manifesto 2010, and other government flag ship programmes which the government has endorsed as National strategies to creating wealth and employment for the youths.

Mr. President, following the flagship programmes on wealth creation of the Government of Uganda, I personally and single handily mobilized the youths in my village and sub county to embrace the government program and picked on farming. I offered land in Bukangara, Nyakiyumbu Sub county, Kasese District, to begin with the youth planted ground nuts in March, 2011. The proceeds from ground nuts, were invested in Cotton farming for which we thought we shall get a better deal following your advice to the youths to become self employed and to engage in gain full work.

Mr. President, we planted 10 acres of cotton where we invested as follows; hire of land UGX 250,000/ X 10 = 2,500,000/ hire of tractor UGX 80,000/X 10= 800,000/= , 5 bags of cotton seeds 5X 3000= 15000, pestcides, UGX 200,000/=, Food and Water, Shs. 500,000/, labour during weeding, UGX 80,000 X 4X 10 = 2,400,000. Other general costs like air time linking to the tractor managers, transport, supervision UGX 500,000/, total UGX 6,915,000/. This is recorded expenditure for a single group, but there are many more farmers in the cotton sector, if this is multiplied by the total number of cotton acreage, the farmers have indeed invested a lot and paid taxes while procuring inputs like pest cides, cotton seeds thus contributing to the national treasury even before harvesting cotton.

Mr. President this is a single case, Kasese district is a cotton belt but the farmers are concerned about the cotton prices that were announced in the media. At the beginning of November 2011, the Cotton Development Organization announced a price of UGX 1,600/ as farm-gate price in the Media (Kasese Guide Radio) but while the Hon. Minister of Agriculture was appearing before the committee of Parliament on Wednesday, 14th December, the Hon. Minster’s response to the questions by the committee were un satisfactory and I was prompted to seek the audience of the President through the media to expeditiously come to the plight of the cotton farmers who by now have no clear information about farm-gate price for cotton. The sadden news that cotton farmers in Soroti have cut down cotton were shocking, what will the farmers pay back to the SACCOS which you have single handily supported for the last 10 years.

Mr. President, while I support liberalization of the economy, you might recall how you have changed the milk industry , the cotton farmers have not had a chance of engaging with you on how we can change the sector but only relay on the private sector which has decided to cheat us while we had invested a lot of money in the process. I therefore, request you Mr. President, that as a voice of the people of Uganda who entrusted you with power through our vote, and as a revolutionalist and farmer, you use your constitutional powers to prevent the cotton farmers from being cheated and government sets a minimal price of cotton at UGX 2,500/ per KG. If the cotton sector is ignored by you, our economy is likely to lose a lot based on what we earned from the cotton in the last financial year.

For God and My Country


Jimmy Baluku Odyek
Cotton Farmer in, Bukangara, Nyakiyumbu Sub county Kasese District
jimodyek@gmail.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?

At the end of every calendar year, right from the household up-to the public sector, we are all busy accounting for our time. What does this mean, make a call to your friend whom you spent the other month hanging out with, the most likely answer is “ I am busy with end of year report” believe me you, this is a critical moment for both parents and managers. Shop keepers are busy making endless journeys to Kampala looking out for the most recent design on market, what about the tailors, the machines are on rampage what has happened, Christmas or end of year. All this is in the name of Christmas and welcoming the new year 2012.

While I was in Holland, I witnessed how the Dutch welcomed the year 2010. It was real spending, don’t mind about the financial crisis making headlines in the Euro zone, The Americas and sub Saharan Africa, orders for fire works to usher in the year dominated the media. One senior citizen wondered if all the money spent on fire works was put in a pool and spent on food security in one of the sub Saharan African countries how many hungry children would be saved? This alone reminds me of how we spend our time and money during Christmas without caring for the next neighbor walloping in abject poverty, never mind we spend our time debating and arguing advancing theories on causes of poverty.

In the name of meeting targets, members of Civil Society Organizations, and Government departments will certainly break for Christmas, but ask how all these civilized citizens will be spending their valuable time. Don’t get surprised to hear somebody mention, ‘I did not finish my end of quarter report, I have comments from my donors to respond to, my boss was not around I will be having a meeting with him/her’. What about the family? With such kind of working, what happens to the children who needed to go out to the beach to make fun with the busy parents?

Again in the Hague, new year is spent in style, imagine temperature at negative two degrees, then you jump into the North Sea! I saw for myself on January 1, 2010 brave people of different odds jump into the North Sea, and I have already received invitations for the ballistic event to be at Schevinengen a famous beach in Den Haag, The Netherlands. Wow, don’t forgot the famous Christmas lights lit allover the streets in town and in public places.

While reviewing my agenda for this year 2011, I realized, many local governments were supposed to have council meetings and budget conferences, but wait a minute, as a concerned citizen, I took time off to review my agenda if I had ever attended any of the consultations by the honorable councilors to collect our views. All I read in the news paper of Monday 12, Dec. 2011 page 9, was “Kasese swimming in Poverty” I was struck by this statement and when I made analysis of the budget for Kasese district, I could not locate money on wealth creation save for the Naads funds which is only benefiting the Naads staff instead of the poor farmers who are swimming in poverty. Did you hear Kasese Municipality passing a supplementary budget of UGX 800M on 15th December, 2011? It all focusing recurrent expenditure what about the garbage in town? Be as it may, if we don’t plan for garbage collection in Kasese MC, Mpondwe-Lhubiriha TC, our leaders might answer for the cholera cases in hospital, simply because somebody plans to arrest those dumping garbage.

What can as CSO activists do to bring the plight of the poor on the political agenda? Its our constitutional mandate to take off time and engage with the leaders to change the statue quo of the flagship programmes like Naads , UPE, Immunization, environmental conservation among others. Its un believable for a government flag ship programme like Naads to allocate 60% of its total budget to administration? Isn’t this another wastage of public funds if we must spend our time profitably then we need to take stock of our priorities. Why are farmers swimming in poverty don’t they spend their time wisely or somebody is working to bring them down?

Following the trends in the 9th Parliament of Uganda, one can now believe that, the power of numbers is working and the spirit of nationalism is back on the political agenda. The news of one of the senior ministers resigning her position paving way for investigations into mismanagement of Uganda Broadcasting cooperation (UBC) was greeted with missed feelings on the evening of December 14th , 2011 (New vision 15th December, 2011 page 13, Why I resigned). While my eyes were glued on the 8 pm UBC news, I swear, the said Hon. Minister read out her resignation and did not welcome any questions from the blue eyed journalists of this country. This is perfect and nice way of spending time other than wasting tax payers money on another Adhoc committee to investigate whether the Hon. Minister really spent her time wisely while holding the Information docket. Wamma, Hon. Minister, you are a ‘Heroin’ come the next generation you will be remembered for giving way.

As we celebrate Christmas and usher in the new year on Sunday 1, January, we are all called to spend wisely and think of the little child who had nothing to serve on Christmas day because their parents were caught up attending to another child in hospital.

Friday, December 2, 2011

INFORMATION SHARING CAUSES ACTION TOWARDS SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY.

Information is any relevant news or data or facts gathered, processed and analyzed and shared with other stake holders who include among others; the farmers, health officer, political leader, teachers religious leader and members of Public. The role of information officers is to identify such silent issues in the society that can be amplified. The training took place on 28th November at RIC-Net head office in fort Portal.

The focus of the training was how the information we gather can speak out and influence change in the communities where we work. The main facilitator Ms Alice Mushenene Mbayahi mentioned that “what makes good information is the 5W’s”. Information should have content, evidenced based, having facts and based on the community are facing. Information should be shared and should emphasize on a single issue for action to be realize.

She emphasized on the methods of gathering information as observation, discussions, interview and dialogue. Information officer should easily identify the sources, monitor the project or issues in the community, share with other stakeholders, and identify the local government development project cycle.

In doing all this, it was realized that the entry point is important in information sourcing. Create a good social relationship with people, write a simple description of the issue, make follow-ups’ and if no action is done then engage the community in the issue before a dialogue with the authority can be organized.

By the end of the training, the information officers agreed that in order to cause change in the community, there is a great need to develop interest in serving the community, share timely information, improve the means of communication, improve our resource centers with timely information and engage our leaders to practically be accountable to the community they are serving.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LOCAL LEADERS VOW TO FIGHT INSECURITY IN THE REGION

As the festive season draws near, there is a lot of social unrest in the Rwenzori region characterized by stealing, domestic violence, accidents and recklessness. The police, RDCs, Chair person LC Vs and LC IIIs in the districts of Kabarole and Kyegegwa have put up measures to fight insecurity in the districts. This message was communicated by the same leaders during a radio program sponsored by RWECO under the invitation and coordination of RIDE AFRICA (IWDP).

Three radio programs were held on Life FM radio by different leaders from the districts of Kyegegwa and Kabarole. The sensitization campaigns started in September/November 2011 to discuss the strategies for improving the security situation in the two Districts.

Strategies to improve the situation include;

  • Revitalizing security committees at District, Sub County and LCI so that crime can be detected early and prevented.
  • Establishment of Police Posts in trading centers with high crime rates such as Nyabagahya in Kakabara Sub County, Kyegegwa District.
  • Conducting of police patrols with vehicles and foot to arrest evil doers.
  • Conducting community policing to sensitize communities on how to live peacefully, people’s rights and the legal process.
  • Sensitization on how to prevent crimes and corruption especially among traffic police officers.
  • Local Leaders especially LC I to report cases of bad behavior to relevant authorities before they yield crime.
  • Encouraging all drivers to service their cars to avoid accidents
  • Encouraging the individuals to stop moving at night.
  • Holding village meetings to sensitize and warn communities to avoid bad behavior.

KALI Supports Cholera Task Force in Kasese District

In attempts to curb cholera outbreak in Kasese District, Karambi Action for Life Improvement (KALI) has mobilized volunteers to disseminate information on disease/cholera to the community especially the already affected communities like Kayanzi landing site.

The upsurge of cholera cases is attributed to the lack of clean water and proper sanitation facilities coupled with the current heavy rains and high population movement from neighboring countries.

This effort intends to assist the already established Cholera task force and the Kasese District medical team in sensitizing the communities on the outbreak of the epidemic.

Cholera hit Kayanzi landing site in Nyakiyumbu sub-county in Kasese district and later spread to some other parts of Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council and Busongora County.

Four people are said to have perished following the outbreak of this epidemic.

According to the In- Charge Kayanzi Health Centre II Mr.Balinda Simon the death of the four residents was enhanced by the ignorance of the residents who delayed the patients and kept attributing their illness to witch craft instead of taking the affected for treatment. He noted that those who died did not visit the HC in time and ended up being dehydrated.

Karambi Action for Life Improvement was the first Non-Governmental Organization in Kasese that came up to empower stake holders to sensitize the masses on the outbreak of cholera in the already affected areas of Kayanzi and Mpondwe Lhubiriha Market.

The team named “Cholera task force” was supported by KALI; it moved to Mpondwe Lhubiriha market sensitizing the market vendors who were selling juice, sugar canes, and some other food stuffs to halt their business until the disease ends.

The same team went to Bwera Hospital where they met the hospital administrators and laid modalities to boost massive sensitization of the communities. During the visit the team learnt that the four Cholera patients who had been admitted at the Hopsital were steadily improving however, unit allocated for cholera patients was in a sorry state in terms of its infrastructure.

In Kayanzi, the team visited the landing site and Kayanzi HCII where Cholera patients were being admitted. The team established that latrine coverage at the landing site was alarmingly low, and that the water facilities being used by residents are in a poor state- sanitation and safety.

In addition to this the team learnt that residents in Kayanzi drink and use lake water which same lake some residents use to dispose off their human waste. It was observed that under such circumstances, an epidemic is inevitable.

Commenting on this situation the Kasese District LCV Chairman Lt. Col. Mawa Muhindo noted that the district leadership had created a treatment centre in Kayanzi such that the disease doesn’t easily spread to the rest of the parts in the district. He also revealed that modalities to construct the road to Kayanzi are underway such that Cholera patients are not delayed on the way in case there was need for them to be transferred to Bwera, Kagando and Kilembe hospitals.

Besides the field sensitization exercise, Karambi Action for Life Improvement offered a one hour live talk show on Kasese Guide radio to sensitize the masses on the epidemic and how the disease can be prevented.

It is important to note that massive community awareness on how to prevent, identify and treat cholera was created.

HIGH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE REGION CLAIMS LIVES

Domestic violence is something that society tends to sit on/ignore yet it has a negative impact on the development of the Society. Over the last three months there has a lot of murder arising from domestic violence and negligence. IWDP was able to establish details on some the incidents in Kabarole and Kyenjojo Districts as seen below;
Family Perishes Over Rat
Rukidi Sam, Coordinator, IWDP
Trouble emerged in Bufunjo Sub County, Kyenjojo District when a rat fell in drum of water. One Omuhereza Mutende returned home tired only to find a rat in their drum of water. He was so bitter that he started beating his wife for this mess, in retaliation the wife picked a panga and cut him to death. When the children realized that their father was dead, they immediately pounced on their mother and beat her to death. Currently the children are in prison detained for murder. I appeal to members of the community to curb this vice.
Man Kills Lover Over 90,000 Shillings
Kahunde Erina, RWECO-IWDP
Tayebwa aged 28 years and a resident of Harukooto village Fort Portal Municipality allegedly killed a one Kamakune Priscilla aged 26 and her son over issues of money. According to the residents Tayebwa lent 90,000 to Kamakune which she has since failed to pay. It is also alleged that Tayebwa had bought Kamakune a TV set and a DVD player and that the duo had been in love for more than one year. On the fateful day Tayebwa was seen drinking beer at Kamakune’s bar and all over a sudden started demanding for his 90,000 shillings from her. The two love birds picked a quarrel and Tayebwa rushed to his home and picked a gun and killed Kamakune and her three year old son. In retaliation the neighbors beat Tayebwa and burnt him to death. By the time police arrived, Tayebwa’s dead body was burning like a furnace.
Child Hanged For Stealing Mandazi
Kahunde Erina, RWECO-IWDP
On 3rd October 2011 a primary five pupil from Kinyamasika primary school was killed on his way to school by one Alimanywoha Felix of Kanyambeho village, East Division Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole District. On the fateful day the little boy as usual left his home early morning for school, on his way he branched to a shop by the road side to pick some mandazi for breakfast since he was hungry, unfortunately the owner of the shop saw him and ran after him, caught him and dragged him to the shop and hanged him. The killer is being detained at Katojo prison, Kabarole District.
Parents and guardians are strongly warned not to send children to school without food, a factor that led to the death of the little boy. At the same time all community members should be parents, Alimanywoha would not have killed the boy over stealing mandazi if he had a parental heart!

Monday, November 28, 2011

RWECO-RIC-NET TRAINS PAC AND ACORD IN E-PLATFORMS

The journey started on a bright Sunday (20th Nov.2011) after noon from Kampala through the east to Soroti District where we arrived late in the evening.
On a Monday morning the RIC-NET team visited Public Affairs Center (PAC)-Uganda where we had a session of training with them in as far as the e- platforms are concerned.
Betty-ICTO RIC-NET led the participants through the Uchaguzi (http://www.uchaguzi-uganda.blogspot.com ) platform that was used during the election process. This was a review.

She was later joined by the Executive Director RIC-NET who also took the participants through a number of other online platforms like the Rwenzori Peoples' voice blog (http://rwecovoice.blogspot.com), CEW-IT (http://cewit.or.ug ), http://wwww.uchaguzi.co.ug and more blogs.

He also took participants through other information sharing platforms like the use of skype. Members signed up and started using this. Twiter was yet another communications media introduced to the members.
This was a long session characterized by practicals, questions and answers. The team carried along with them a dell projector that was officially handed over to PAC by the Executive Director RIC-NET. He took them through its procedures of operation.
ICTO-Yosia also ran some Networking maintenance for the PAC Network and made sure their wireless internet was enabled and security protected and more security issues for their router were done.
The session ended at around 3:15 pm and the team set off for Gulu at around 3:45 pm.