Local leaders in Okere Parish successfully trained on the Parish Development Model

The NRM government has been experimenting with various local development programmes since it came to power in 1986. Some of these programmes include but are not limited to; prosperity for all, Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Operation Wealth Creation, EMYOOGA, among others. Particularly in Northern Uganda, many local development programmes have also been implemented, such as Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF I, II, & III), Plan for Reconstruction and Development of Northern Uganda (PRDP), etc.

In Uganda’s third National Development Plan (NDP III), the Parish Development Model (PDM) was presented as a local development agenda to drive Uganda’s vision 2040, i.e. “A transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”. The Parish Development Model (PDM) is a strategy for organising and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and employment generation at the parish level as the lowest economic planning unit. Indeed, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has already allocated UGX 4O4.3 billion to capitalise on the Parish Revolving Fund in FY2O21 /22. Specifically, the PDM seeks to;

a. Accelerate the implementation of Area-Based Commodity Development (ABCD) planning which is vital for realising the quantity and quality of agricultural production required for agro — industrialisation and export development.

b. Extend the whole-of-government approach for development to the parish level in a consolidated manner as opposed to working in silos; and

c. Localise Vision 2O4O and the National Development Plan for effective measurement and management of development interventions.

Whilst PDM aspires to become Uganda’s flagship model for rural transformation and local economic development, its success and effectiveness won‘t be spared by challenges such as the limited local capacity and negative attitudes of implementers, political intrigues, information gaps, disinformation, among others.

It is upon this background that Okere City with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organized a workshop with the major objective of strengthening the capacity of LCI&II authorities and Parish Development Committees (PDCs) in Okere Parish to effectively understand the Parish Development Model and be prepared for its succeful implementation. Among other successes, the workshop enabled the local leaders in Okere to fully grasp fundamental aspects of the PDM such as the pillars, focus, and key priorities. The workshop also gave the local leaders the opportunity to have a free exchange of ideas with other key stakeholders who were in attendance, namely, the Parish and Sub-County Chiefs.

Ojok Okello, the CEO of Okere City stated that the Parish Development Model is one of the most robust rural development models being attempted in the African continent. He likened the Okere City model which attempts to provide holistic solutions to socio-economic development challenges to the same spirit upon which the PDM is based. “Focusing and intensifying development interventions at the Parish level will spur the transformation that rural Uganda so much desires,” Ojok said. Ojok also emphasized that developing the capacity of local leaders to be knowledgeable and equipped with organizational, managerial, and coordination skills will lead to mindset change and significantly contribute towards making the PDM succeed. “That is why, Okere City and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung are supporting local leaders in Okere to become one of the best implementers of the Parish Development Model in Uganda”, he remarked.

The facilitator of the workshop, Mr. Kiptum Denis — the Chief of Ogwette Sub-County took participants through the Implementation Guidelines for the Parish Development Model, a key document published by the Ministry of Local Government. The document details the objectives, pillars, monitoring and evaluation strategy and results framework of the PDM. According to Kiptum, “when local leaders who are the implementers of the PDM have gotten the logic right, implementation will significantly be eased thereby leading to success”.

For Mr. Thomas Apule, the Chairperson II of Okere Parish, the training workshop was both an eye-opener and a unique call to action. This is because he was able to learn that his Office is the central pillar upon which the success of PDM hinges. “I have learnt that the Office of the Chairperson II together with the Parish Development Committee (PDC) are so crucial to the operations of PDM. This calls for more coordination and enforcement of cooperation from my side — which I am being readied for by this workshop training” he said. As a call to action, Mr. Apule summoned a special meeting meant to address some of the coordination and collective action challenges faced by the PDC.

Mr. Odongo J.C, the Parish Chief of Okere also called upon all the local leaders to collaborate and ensure that Okere is a model parish for PDM. “As a public servant and the accounting officer, I will work tirelessly and ethically with every stakeholder to ensure that all initiatives under the Parish Development Model fulfil their intended objectives of societal transformation and building a robust rural economy in Okere Parish”.

The training workshop was organized under the aegis of Okere Leadership Lab, a flagship grassroots leadership development programme meant to build a movement of servant leaders and conscientious citizens in Okere Parish, Otuke District, Northern Uganda. Okere Leadership Lab is being supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a German political foundation.

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