The plan to roll out a multi-billion shillings Parish Development Model is drawing praise for its potential to get millions of Ugandans out of poverty and benefit the economy.

But as ministers begin upcountry to sensitize the people about it, some Ugandans are skeptical, saying questions remain about whether the program will have any lasting impact.

State Minister for National Guidance, Kabbyanga Godfrey Bakulu confirmed that ministers were this week flagged to different regions to explain how the Parish Development is to be implemented.

Kabbyanga is of the view that the Parish Development Model which is this time around quite targeted will stimulate job creation for Ugandans and stimulate development.

“We are rolling out the Parish Development Model to increase household incomes and improve quality of life. We are saying under financial inclusion; we shall give one hundred million shillings to parishes” said Kabbyanga.

Some Members of Parliament, civil society, and development experts, however, doubt that it will be any different from similar interventions like Entandikwa, NAADS, and many others that President Museveni’s administration has had over the years. Some have said the commencement of the model has been rushed.

While Kabbyanga agrees that people have not been quite sensitized about the model, he believes it will have tangible benefits if the beneficiaries under Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisation or Society(SACCOS) ensure that the one hundred million shillings is seed money which has to be reinvested.

“My ministry is developing the Parish Development model management information system. And we are now collecting data on every household in the country. Because this model is only for the 39% of Ugandans who are still in substance farming,” said Kabbyanga.

The e Parish Development Model (PDM), launched by President Yoweri Museveni in Kibuku district in February this year.

It aims to lift 17.5 million Ugandans in 3.5 million households out of poverty by transforming them from subsistence to a money economy.

Since poverty and unemployment are linked, it is hoped that the intervention will stimulate job creation for Ugandans.

Some of its pillars include Production, Storage, Processing, and Marketing. It also has aspects of financial inclusion as part of the pillars.

It is supposed to be a Parish revolving fund whose beneficiaries will get low-cost loans for investment in income generation.

While Parliament endorsed the budget for the Parish Development Model as part of the implementation of the National Development Plan III’s ambition of job creation and increase in incomes in households, not all of them are convinced that it will be the silver bullet to the poverty crisis.

Bugabula North MP, Kibalya Henry Maurice is one of the legislators that are not in an upbeat mood as the model. He, in an interview predicted that the money will be sent out but no tangle results will be noticed. Kibyala is of the opinion that the Parish Development model is not different from the way NAAD was implemented.

“The Parish development model is not going to work the way Ugandans are interpreting it. Ugandans think the government will take one hundred shillings to the parish for people to divide among themselves. That is what they think,” said Kibalya

“They are going to pick an agent to supply either beans, soya or seedling in the parish. But who are these agents that are going to supply? They are the same people that have been supplying in NAADS and Operation wealth creation,” he added

The government has listed a number of food and cash cops among the 18 priority commodities under the model. Crops like coffee, tea, beans, and sugar among others were selected. The list of priorities also includes fish, beef, and dairy.

Kole North MP, Opio Samuel Acuti said while the Parish Development Model is well-intended, he doesn’t believe that the funding will enable a household involved in framing to earn twenty million shillings annually.

“I did an oversight on emyoga in my constituency. These livelihood programs are great. For example, emyoga. It is likely a very nicely designed lorry but you decide to put an engine of a motorcycle and the tires of a bicycle. You expect it to a distance it will not,” said Opio.

He has information that most districts have not spent 17 million shillings appropriated as a revolving fund for Parishes.

Opio said it is unlikely that a farmer in his constituency that has been earning five hundred thousand shillings from Soya cultivation annually can be jump-started to earn twenty million shillings as envisaged by the government.

“That means they are getting about forty thousand shillings a month. That is the income of a farmer in Kole,” he said

Uganda Bureau of statistic data indicates that the median monthly income in Lango is about seventy thousand shillings. From the statistics, Opio says it is unlikely that a farmer in Lango region will earn more than one million shillings in a year.

“When you go to the median income average for the country, it is about 191,000. That means a half of the population is earning 191,000 per month, which is about 2.4 million in a year. When you want to analyze that go and look at the cost of school fees, I decided to choose the cheapest secondary school and I found that fees per term is 250,000 but the farmer earns 500,000 a year” argues Opio

Anti-Corruption activist, Cissy Kagaba told says that the parish development model was designed without consulting the citizens who are supposed to be beneficiaries.

“What we need to ask ourselves is how different is the parish development model going to be than I would say operation wealth creation, youth livelihoods program?” asked Kabaga, the Civil Society and Private Sector Advisor for a USAID funded project, Strengthening Systems and Public Accountability.

Sawuya Nakijoba, a Research Associate at Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) based at Makerere University in an article published by the Centre wondered how the model would be implemented when 80% of Parish Chief jobs had not been filled by the beginning of this year.

She suggested that Parish Development Model(PDM) should draw lessons from past government interventions for supporting job creation, such as Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) and Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) which suffered several setbacks. URN

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