Lira – A recent report released by Uganda Local Government Association [ULGA] on the performances of districts in northern Uganda especially those benefiting from Northern Uganda Development Initiative –DINU has drawn mixed reactions from leaders.
The report titled: “Local Government Performance Analysis” was commissioned by ULGA to access the state of service delivery in the 16 DINU districts, and overall, the report exposes gaps in nearly all the districts in the region.
Presenting the report on Wednesday [last week] during a [dialogue] meeting held at Pauline Hotel Lira, Mr. Aloysius Kigongo, a consultant who conducted the assessments observed that a total of seven of the 16 DINU districts improved in their overall performances in the financial year 2018-2019, but even so, it stands at a paltry 44 percent.
In comparison to the 2017-2018 financial year, the seven districts which include Zombo, Yumbe, Otuke, Agago, Omoro, Ajumani and Agago performed above the national average of 65%.
On the other hand, Amolatar, Kole, Pader, Moroto and Amuria are districts that exhibited some improvement in performance but hit below the national average level.
The report further discloses that the districts of Napak, Lamwo, Abim and Amudat declined in performance below the national average.
Meanwhile, the report has drawn mixed reactions from both political leaders and technocrats across the districts.
Jimmy Amone, the council speaker of Lamwo district has asked leaders especially of low performing districts to welcome the report in good faith and act to close the service delivery gaps identified by ULGA consultant.
But Amone, who also doubles as a representative of Northern Uganda Council Speakers in ULGA also advised that political leaders should be engaged in the process of carrying out assessment on districts because politicians play “a critical supervisory role on technocrats”.
Joseph Lonyang, the LC5 chairperson of Napak district, meanwhile said it was unfair for ULGA to use the same parameters while tracking the state of service delivery in the DINU districts.
“Napak district is a hard to reach district and sometimes you will realize that we have staffing gaps not like other districts, so how do you expect us to attain the same level of service delivery? Lonyang questioned ULGA’s report.
His sentiment was shared by Lamwo district LC5 chairman, John Komakech Ogwok who argues that Lira, a fast growing Municipality and almost achieving a city status cannot be expected to perform at the same level like Lamwo, a hard to reach district – he says.
But according to the consultant, districts who claim to be in remote areas should not use this as a scape goat to justify their dismal performance, saying they carefully paid details to their challenges.
“Sometimes the standards are the same,” Kigongo stated. “Because if you are to do a kilometer of road then the ratings have to be the same like other districts.”
He then went on to cite an example of a district which he declined to mention where a human resource officer was at loggerhead with those in the health department and this, he said, “affected the recruitment of 35 nurses in the district.”
“Tell me, you have mothers dying in your health centers but you have failed to recruit 35 nurses whose wages are available and the district chairman says he is not aware?” The consultant charged.
On the other hand, another district chairman advised that funding under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda DINU should be concentrated within the traditional greater north districts if its impact is to be realized.
“I was traveling through the East and I see your [DINU] cars in districts like Iganga and I keep wondering if this is also northern Uganda,” he said, sending the house to a warm laughter.
Much as leaders have expressed concern, Bosco Odongo Obote, the LC5 chairman of Otuke said he is impressed with the interventions of DINU, citing support towards community engagements also known as Baraza.
The two days engagement ended with regional leaders discussing raft of issues.
Some of the key concerns captured in the report is that DINU districts had weak scores in the areas of accountability requirements, planning, human resource, budgeting and execution, among others.
ULGA: This is an association for local governments in Uganda. ULGA was formed in 1994 by the district chairpersons as Uganda Local Authorities Association (ULAA) which was later re-named Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA).