Uganda: Locals Threaten to Reclaim Unused Health Centre Land

24 November 2021

The local community of Mazanga Village in Nyori Parish, Lodonga Sub-county, Yumbe District, have threatened to reclaim a piece of land they donated for constructing a health facility.

The community had donated land for the construction of Nyori Health Centre III to improve the health services in the area but it remains non-operational.

The district constructed an outpatient department (OPD) and the sub-county constructed a five stance pit-latrine on the donated piece of land but it is not operational.

The structure on the bushy land is now home to rats, snakes and lizards.

Mr Mahamoud Ijoviga, the former owner of the land, said he donated two acres to construct the health facility to save the community from walking long distances in search of better health services.

"The district constructed this Outpatients Department (OPD) in 2015 but up to now there are no drugs brought here and no plan of opening this health facility. This means that my offer is being abused," he said.

Ms Fatuma Onoko, a resident of the area, said they have to trek more than six kilometres to access the nearest health centres.

Dashed hopes

"We had high hopes that the construction of the health facility would help to reduce the burden of travelling to far distances to access health services but the structure remains idle," she said.

Ms Zabibu Dawa, another resident, said the non-functionality of the health facility poses a great risk to expectant mothers.

"Some mothers in the area have resorted to delivering at home due to long distances and lack of money to pay for the services in the private health facilities," she said.

Mr Kassim Sebbi, the chairperson of Lodonga Sub-county, said the idea of constructing the health facility in the area originated from the government policy that every parish should have a health centre II.

He said from that point, they started negotiations with the landlords to secure the land because Lodonga is one of the sub-counties without a health facility in the district.

"The landlord agreed to offer the land and an OPD was constructed in 2015/2016 financial year. This health facility has been abandoned for six years without being operationalised," he said.

"We were requested by the district to put some investments on the land so we accepted the request and we constructed a five-stance VIP latrine, opened a community access road linking to the facility using the road fund and we also repainted the whole OPD and fixed some of the broken fascia boards because they were wearing off," Mr Sebbi added.

Mr Zubeir Ojjo, the assistant district health officer-in-charge of environmental health, said the construction project was halted due to lack of funds.

"As a district, we had put up an OPD structure in the area and that was the starting point to roll out the construction of other structures but as we were proceeding, funds became limited because our District Development Equalisation Grant (DDEG) was removed, so we had to halt construction of other structures in the area," he said.

He added: "The only major fund that we have is the sector development grant and the decision for constructing health facilities is made at Cabinet level."

Mr Ojjo said about four sub-counties in the district don't have health facilities and due to limited resources, they have only prioritised Amanyiri Health Centre III in Kuru Sub-county this financial year.

He urged the community to be patient, adding that they should continue accessing health services in the facilities of the neighbouring sub-counties.

About health unit

Mr Kassim Sebbi, the chairperson of Lodonga Sub-county, said the idea of constructing the health facility originated from the government policy that every parish should have a health centre II. He said they then secured the land because Lodonga is one of the sub-counties without a health facility in the district.

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