5 December 2012

Uganda: Northern Uganda Picks Up the Pieces

Okello Godfrey, a former student of Angorom Primary School has finally returned home after 9 years of captivity by the LRA rebels in the Central ... ( Resource: Ugandan Returns Home After Being Kept by LRA Rebels For Nine Years )

Northern Uganda has witnessed tremendous development in the last five years because people who had been displaced by the LRA war started returning to their homes.

The development is attributed to the various interventions by the Government, non-government organisations and development partners that have injected billions of shillings into the region to assist in reconstructing the area.

The northern region was ravaged by the rebellion that lasted for over 20 years. For instance agriculture and business are booming. Farmers are now engaged in growing various food and cash crops and earn big from farming.

Several commercial houses have sprung up in various trading centres that had been deserted during the war. Most of the farmers are engaged in growing rice, maize, cassava and sim sim to take advantage of the fast growing small scale industries and Mukwano industry that has established a plant in the area.

It is common today to see trucks loaded with food items crisscrossing each other in the region transporting them from one place to another for sale.

A community volunteer ferries bricks in Gulu

Some of the programmes that have been employed by the Government to rebuild the region include the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP), Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) phase two and the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS).

Under the PRDP and NUSAF the returnees have been assisted to pick up the pieces by building them water sources, schools and hospitals.

They have also been provided with planting materials and ox-ploughs to enable them engage in large scale agriculture. Community roads identified by the people have been constructed to ease transport under these projects. Since NUSAF and PRDP are demand -driven projects, only enterprises selected by the community members are supported.

This has ensured that the people take part in the development process. Schools that were dilapidated and deserted as a result of the war have been reconstructed. Teachers' houses, have been built for teacher's to restore the glorious educational standards in the north.

Like in other parts of the country, NAADS has greatly contributed to the efforts to uplift the standards of poor families in northern Uganda.

Movement across the region has been eased by the periodic maintenance and rehabilitation of roads in the region by the Uganda National Roads Authority.

The Lira NAADS coordinator, Godfrey Acuti Ojuka Okello says, there are number of farmers supported by the programme each year. The farmers are selected by the community members according to their needs.

This has helped to speed up development. Bernard Watmon, the District NUSAF2 coordinator for Pader says the area has made significant strides in development, courtesy of the programme.

"A lot of changes have been registered and it is hoped that by the end of the programmes a lot more will have been achieved as far as development is concerned," he observes.

The Zombo district production officer, Tom Ofoyuru says Zombo has become the leading Irish potato producer in the entire northern Uganda as a result of NAADS interventions.

He observes that NAADS and other programmes the Government and development agencies are using to enhance development in the region are paying off.

"Business is booming and the population is more industrious because there are several development partners and interventions to take advantage of today," Ofoyuru adds.

He says the region is slowly becoming a food basket for the country. Another factor that has spearheaded development is the booming business and food market in South Sudan.

"We cannot satisfy the market within our districts and South Sudan. There is a big opportunity in agriculture than ever before because every food item is selling like a hot cake today," Ofoyuru explains.

State minister for Northern Uganda Rebecca Amuge Otengo (centre) and World Vision staff inspect new classroom blocks at Mutema Primary School in Amuru District in july last year

As a result of NAADS intervention, the district programme coordinator, Dr. Walter Komakech says there is food security in all households of beneficiaries, increased volume of trade in agricultural products and a steady transition from grassthatched houses to permanent structures.

Food security, he observes is a prerequisite for development. "Food market centres are being set up. Zombo is now a food basket for West Nile and northern Uganda in general," he adds.

The Adjumani District chief administrative officer, Habit Abubakar is optimistic about the pace of development in the area. "In the past a farmer would own just three acres of crops, but today people have several acres," he says.

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