The government has finally rolled out the Parish Development Model (PDM) after close to two years of back-to-back discussions.In the Budget, the government has allocated a trillion shillings this financial year to bankroll the programme that is meant to get 39 percent of subsistence farmers out of poverty.Under the arrangement, each parish will receive Shs100 million as a revolving fund for households who have been organised into groups.PDM is an extension of the whole-of-government approach to development as envisaged under the NDPIII, with the parish as the lowest administrative and operational hub for delivering services closer to the people.
A guideline for PDM operations released by the Ministry of Local Government in February states that the programme underlines the spirit of harmonisation of government interventions with every Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to transform the subsistence households into the money economy.The guide further explains that in order for the transformation to be achieved, it requires organised, integrated, well-coordinated and results-based efforts.
Seven pillarsThe model has seven pillars that include production, storage, processing and marketing, infrastructure and economic services; financial inclusion; social services; mindset change, parish-based management information systems, governance and administration.The data generated and interpreted will improve the understanding of households across the country and provide the basis for targeted interventions.The government in June suspended both Cabinet and Parliament and sent the leaders to their constituencies to sensitise locals ahead of the implementation of PDM.In a recent interview with this newspaper, Mr Raphael Magyezi, the Minister of Local Government, said the leaders needed to mobilise the masses and sensitise them about the programme’s implementation.
“We are all in it, all the ministers were assigned to go to the countryside to mobilise for the rollout of the Parish government model and because of the importance of this exercise, the President directed [then], that Cabinet business is suspended,” he said.Mr Magyezi added that there will be dedicated efforts and investments in the organisation and coordination of farmers at parish level and other value chain actors through area-based commodity clusters. He said this will create sustainable agricultural production, regular provision of agricultural extension and education to farming households.
“Strengthen participatory planning by local communities to collectively identify and address systemic bottlenecks that affect local economic development is key. We will ensure access to financial services to households that operate in the subsistence economy, but with bankable projects along the value chain of the 18 priority commodities,” Mr Magyezi said.According to the operational guidelines, the purpose of the PDM is to deepen the decentralisation process; improve household incomes; enable inclusive, sustainable, balanced and equitable socio-economic transformation; and increase accountability at local levels.PDM is premised on the principle of organising Ugandans around their local enterprises in a way that links them to quality inputs and tailored technical assistance, including business development services, extension services, guaranteed markets, and subsidised credit.
“This organisation will be done either through cooperatives or other formal organisational structures that will enable Ugandans at the parish/ward level to overcome; diseconomies of scale, poor quality inputs/output, lack of reliable production advice, information (on) and connectivity to commodity and financial markets and post-harvest losses,” the guidelines state.The plan also indicates that PDM shall encourage market-based approaches that strengthen the value chains, incentivise competition, efficiency, and innovation that will drive government support over time.“Local economic development in Uganda shall be inclusive and shall take a value chain approach ensuring that all value chain actors (including women, youth, smallholder farmers and other agri-MSMEs), can access appropriate services to support their needs,” the guide add.President’s word In the implementation guide, President Museveni said the PDM is in fulfilment of the National Resistance Movement party manifesto of 2021 to 2026.
“The NRM promised to use the PDM as a strategy to reach the homesteads that are still in subsistence economy to support them to join the money economy. These guidelines, therefore, have been prepared to direct the implementation of this transformative intervention. Through the model, we are going to move the 3.5 million households that are still in subsistence farming to the money economy. Using Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), we have reduced the proportion of homesteads working for only the stomach from 68 percent in 2016 to 39 percent. The parish is going to be the vehicle for data gathering, area-based enterprise selection, provision of financial services, provision of basic infrastructure; particularly roads and electricity, as well as community mobilisation and mindset change. The parish will also be the focal point for services such as soil testing, quality farming inputs, extension services, and mechanisation,” Mr Museveni said.He said PDM is the solution to high post-harvest losses, bulking and marketing of agricultural produce by elimination of middlemen that have been exploiting Ugandans through offering low commodity prices. The president said there will be easy access to markets at local, regional and international level. “Through the PDM, we are going to take the government to the people in a more effective way and receive actionable feedback from the people on wealth creation to quicken socio-economic transformation,” he said.
Mr Museveni outlined four sectors under which the PDM will advance. “These are commercial agriculture, industrialisation, modern services, and information and communications technology (ICT). The implementation of these sectors is going to enable us achieve middle income status at a much faster pace, despite the Covid-19 pandemic that slowed down economic growth. The parish chief is going to be the coordinator of all government efforts at each of the 10,594 parishes and will report to the Sub-county Chief (as provided for in Sec 69 in the Local Government Act of 1997). Each parish is going to have a co-operative society through which the government support will be channeled. I urge leaders at all levels to support the implementation of this intervention,” he said.
Why PDM?The PDM is a result of review of the government development plans both medium-term aspirations and long-term vision according to the PDM guide.The NDP I End-of-Term Evaluation and the NDP II Mid-Term Review, recommended the adoption of the PDM. The evaluations identified the strategic role of a parish in improving service delivery and strengthening production, productivity and value addition for social economic transformation and realisation of NDP results. In line with this, the NDP III (Section 10, page 10 and 11) adopted the PDM as a vehicle for increasing household income and welfare. b) The Comprehensive Evaluation of the Decentralisation Policy commissioned by the National Planning Authority (NPA) in 2019 also recommended action of the government by deepening decentralisation and devolution to support planning and development at parish level.There is general concern on whether PDM will work since some previous government programmes have failed to deliver Ugandans out of poverty.
Farmers harvest simsim in Gulu District in 2021. The PDM is intended to uplift Ugandans from subsistence to money economy. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE
Such programmes include the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA), Wealth for All Programme (Bonna Bagagawale), Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Entandikwa Credit Scheme and Emyooga Wealth Fund implemented at constituency level, among others.But the Ministry of Local Government explains that PDM is anchored on the multi-sectoral, all-inclusive approach, in order to provide holistic improvement in livelihoods and incomes of the households across the country. The PDM centres on the parish as the last mile of administrative structure of the government for community-based planning and development. It has a unique integrated M&E framework and implementation mechanism that emphasises transparency, accountability and results.
Poverty levelsDifferent entities have given varying figures to Uganda’s poverty levels, ranging from between 39 and 41 percent people are said to be living on less than a dollar per day. According to the World Bank, Uganda’s Human Capital Index is low; a child born in Uganda today is likely to be 38 percent as productive when she grows up, as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. A child who starts schooling at the age of four is only expected to complete 6.8 years of school by their 18th birthday, compared to the sub-Saharan average of 8.3. However, actual years of learning are 4.3, with the 2.5 years considered “wasted” due to poor quality of education.
Data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicate that Busoga, Karamoja and Acholi sub-regions still top the list of the poorest, though with some slight improvements.Through the PDM, the government is hoping to pull out the 39 percent from subsistence economy to money economy through commercialisation of agriculture.Mr Magyezi said the government will achieve this through the seven pillars already identified.
“Pillar one is aimed at supporting the creation of more productive jobs and wealth for all Ugandans; especially in the Agro-Industrialisation, private sector development, digital transformation and manufacturing programmes under the NDPIII. Under this pillar, the government will roll out the e-voucher for farm inputs, the e-extension and e-certification systems to strengthen service delivery at parish level,” he said.He said the money for PDM is not for everybody.“You cannot say every poor person comes here with money. No, the parish model is for households, which are living in subsistence and right now the exercise which is ongoing is to identify those households. You know that there are some people who are poor yet they have a huge chunk of land,” he said.
The minister, however, asked everyone to get involved in mobilisation, regardless of their political affiliations. He said poverty doesn’t affect political parties, but everyone.“We all represent a certain parish. There is nobody who doesn’t come from a certain parish in Uganda. We all have households who are in subsistence and we have to help them transform to get out of this situation so that they can transform into a monetary economy. So, this is not about politics. It is not about your individual ideology. It is about a change for the community you represent,” he said.
However, a section of Opposition politicians, especially in Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), say they have been side-lined by the ruling party.Mr Zacchy Mberaze Mawula, the mayor for Rubaga Division, said as political leaders within KCCA, they have not been involved yet they are supposed to mobilise and sensitise locals and monitor the programme.“In KCCA, we have been left out. We only come to know about it when we are invited for a meeting and by then, decisions have already been made, so we don’t feel part of the programme. Because most of us are from the Opposition, the NRM people have taken this as a party thing and have pushed the elected leaders out, yet we were elected to serve the people,” he said.Mr Mberaze said duly-elected political leaders irrespective of their party affiliations should be allowed to execute their mandates.
“I propose that all of us must be involved. This programme is not only for NRM members, but for everyone,” he said.Mr Mberaze said there are still vacancies to be filled for the parish chiefs in rural areas and town agents in urban centres. He wondered how the programme will be implemented in such places.According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Local Government, the parish chief is the overall coordinator of the programme and the principal signatory to the bank accounts of all the group members within the parish.“This poses another challenge because without a principal signatory, you cannot open an account and transact business. These issues must have been handled before rolling out,’’ Mr Mberaze said.
The government has enlisted the support of both state and non-state actors, including religious and cultural leaders. Mr Magyezi said he has been in touch with cultural leaders, religious leaders and has encouraged the ministers and Members of Parliament to interface with them over the programme.He said the government has recruited parish chiefs in all parishes across the country and they are ready to roll out the programme.“We have also enhanced their [parish chiefs] salaries from U7 grade, which was about Shs270,000 to U5, which now stands at Shs475,000. We have also enhanced their consolidated allowances to cater for other expenses, including transport to monitor the implementation of the PDM,” Mr Magyezi said.The minister said 83 percent of the parishes have formed Saccos and the exercise is still ongoing.
He said the cooperatives and associations shall be formed and registered at the districts and that members of the groups will not be charged for registration of their groups with the district authorities because all the requirements have been centrally handled.“I want to inform the country that these Saccos do not have to pay registration fees because registration of circles has been centrally handled by the ministry in charge of cooperatives. They are registered at the district and they don’t have to send their application here. They are compiled by the district commercial officer and they are given certificates for these households to say I am a member of the circle,” Mr Magyezi said.
Leaders speakMr James Okurut, the chairman of Butebo, District said the people are eagerly waiting to kickstart the PDM.“We are very optimistic that the PDM will address our challenges that have kept us in the poverty cycle for generations. When the individual household is targeted then there is hope at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Okurut said.He said more than 95 percent of the people in Butebo District depend on rain-fed agriculture, which has greatly affected production and productivity.
“Despite the fact that we have swamps in the area that can supply water for small scale irrigation, we still depend on rains which are not reliable and lead to losses on the farm,” he said.The State minister for National Guidance, Mr Godfrey Kabyanga, said the PDM will stimulate job creation.“We are rolling out the PDM to increase household incomes and improve the quality of life. We are saying under financial inclusion, we shall give one hundred million shillings to parishes,” said Kabyanga.
“My ministry is developing the PDM management information system and we are now collecting data on every household. This model is only for the 39 percent of Ugandans who are still in subsistence farming,” said Kabyanga.In KCCA, the authority has moved to establish community centres at parish level to be used for different activities.The KCCA executive director, Ms Dorothy Kisaka, said the centres will be used for community dialogues, meetings and sensitization.“We are going to establish community centres at parish level where people can go to read and do any other activities without being charged. It is something we are thinking about and we will engage the government,” Ms Kisaka said.