ANKOLE — Preliminary reports from the ongoing countrywide Parish Development Model (PDM) Baseline data collection exercise has revealed that the pillar of financial inclusion has effectively eclipsed the other six pillars of the model—with further details indicating political leaders are misrepresenting or giving less information to the population about the programme.
Interacting with different enterprise groups in Ankole sub region particularly, Bushenyi District, during the ongoing exercise being conducted by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Ministry of ICT& National Guidance who are closely working with local administration units, locals informed a group of reporters that they only understand one pillar out of the seven pillars that make the programme.
In February 2022, Government of Uganda launched the PDM, as a masterstroke to lift the 39% of Uganda’s population from the subsistence to money economy.
The much sought-after programme has seven pillars including Production, Storage, Processing and Marketing; Infrastructure and Economic Services; Financial Inclusion; Social Services; Mindset change; Parish Based Management Information System; and Governance and Administration.
It has however been, noted that politicians and some of the technical officials only front financial inclusion, a development that has since made the population believe that the whole model is about the revolving fund— with experts warning that the disjointed understanding of the programme is likely to cause challenges in its implementation.
Codius Natuhuuera, (35) a member of Kitagatta Twetunguule Group in Kitagatta Parish says they were asked to form a group so that they can receive the money from government.
Asked what her group would do with the PDM money, Natuhuuera who also didn’t know any other thing about PDM said:
“As a group, we don’t know yet. Maybe we shall engage in trade”.
Mzee Elisam Njunwoha, (70) also a resident of the same parish said he had heard about the PDM money on one of the local FM stations and that he would use it to buy himself a wheelchair since he is unable to walk—citing backrelated challenges.
Asked if he was a member of any of enterprise groups in his village, mzee Njunwoha said he wasn’t but “I want to be included because I want to buy myself a wheelchair”.
Jane Njunwoha, his wife, said when she heard about the money and immediately joined an enterprise group — Nyakatoma Coffee Growers also to benefit — “but we haven’t seen any money.”
Erias Bingana, Nyakatoma LCI who is currently disseminating PDM information to his electorates said he had been briefed about PDM but the major emphasis was put on SACCO formulation.
Bingana urged government to sensitize local leaders on PDM so that they are able to influence the model on ground. He also rallied opposition groups to stop politicising the programme, saying that they should be looking at how they can improve the people’s lives on ground.
Mr. Douglas Mucunguzi, the Bushenyi District Local government speaker said that local leaders including councillors do not understand how the PDM works yet they are the one interacting with the members of the public.
“Its true that most of our people only know financial inclusion pillar in the entire model because the councillors who reach the grassroots were not equipped to pass on the right information,” Mr. Mucunguzi said, adding that, “as leaders, we have just heard about the programme once”.
“Ideally, government should have first invested in popularising the PDM to ensure that there is a common understanding of the model across the different spheres,” he said, adding that involving councillors would help to make the public understand the model in its entirety.
“We need more training from the government so that we can also get back on ground and train our people on how PDM works. We need to include all people so that they all benefit,” Mucunguzi said.
Ms. Monica Mpirirwe Rutahanda, a UBOS senior statistician who supervised the PDM Baseline data collection exercise in Ankole sub region said some people don’t want to listen to any other thing other than the financial inclusion aspect of the model.
“We have had a challenge of people’s mind set. These people, when you talk about PDM, they first thing that comes in their mind is financial inclusion. They don’t want to hear about any other thing. They ask you, have you come to me money?, Ms. Rutahanda said.
Ms. Rutahanda who has supervised the exercise in 17 local governments urged leaders to desist from misleading the public —noting that all pillars are important for PDM to take off.
“With time, I hope people will get to know that, for example, this very pillar (data collection) is the backbone of all the pillars. Without information, planning is not there,” she said, adding that the exercise is helping the generation of reliable statistics required for the effective implementation and monitoring the PDM.
Dickson Bamusiima, Bushenyi District Local Government Planner and PDM focal person noted with concern that whereas PDM had been rolled out by the government, there has been an information gap, especially amongst councillors but said the district was in the process of engaging all the stakeholders.
He said the ongoing data collection exercise was necessary to improve the understanding of the different and unique characteristics of households across the country and hence provide the basis for the delivery of targeted interventions.
UBOS officials have for last two weeks been overseeing the collection of PDM Baseline data
in all the 15 Statistical sub-regions including Kigezi, Teso , Rwenzori, Ankole, Bunyoro, West Nile, Buganda North and Buganda South.
Other regions include Kampala, Busoga, Acholi, Lango, Bukedi, Elgon and Karamoja.
In the 2021 to 2026 manifesto, President Yoweri Museveni said his administration would use the PDM as a strategy to reach homesteads that are still in subsistence economy to enable them join the money economy.
The PDM follows many of the past revolving funds such as Entandikwa, Prosperity for all, Youth Livelihood Programme, Operation Wealth Creation, NAADS, and the most recent Emyoga, meant to improve the livelihood of Ugandans(Carter, 2013)
Under the Parish Development Model, each of the 1,0594 parishes received Shs17m and Shs100m in 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 national budgets respectively meant for the roll-out and establishment of social cooperatives at parish level.
Speaking at the launch of the Parish Development Model on February 27 at Kibuku Primary School, Kibuku District in Bukedi Sub-region, President Museveni spoke with certainty about the targets of the fund.
He asserted that the Parish Development Model will increase household incomes and lift the 39 percent subsistence population to the money economy, adding that it’s an extension of government approach to development as envisaged under the National Development Plan III, with the parish as the lowest administrative and operational hub for delivering services closer to the people and hence fostering economic development.
While appearing on a TV talk show, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja informed the country that for the first time, the government had invested in data collection to ascertain the genuine beneficiaries of these funds.