Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Religious leaders in Acholi have called on the government to review the Parish Development Model (PDM) so that it suits the real needs of the sub-region that is still recovering from the two decades of insurgencies.
The clerics said although the PDM is a good initiative by the government to alleviate household poverty, it lacks special components that target the people in the region who underwent untold suffering during the war.
The government rolled out PDM, a program meant to eradicate poverty through the execution of development activities at the parishes in February last year. The initiative targets to lift 17.5 million Ugandans in 3.5 million households out of poverty into the money economy.
The Bishop emeritus of Northern Uganda Diocese Rev. Nelson Onono Onweng said it’s unfair for the government to roll out the same program in Acholi and other parts of the country that didn’t go through the war.
He noted that the region lagged behind owing to the LRA conflicts that devastated the lives and economic development adding that such a program should have been carefully designed to suit the exact needs.
Bishop Ongweng delivered the remarks Friday during the celebration to mark the 19th anniversary of the infamous Lukodi Massacre in which a total of 69 people were killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels on May 19, 2004.
The memorial service was held in Lukodi village in Bungatira Sub-county, Gulu district under the theme “Transparency matters for victim’s reparation and recovery process”.
Bishop Ongweng said components of the PDM should focus on the rehabilitation of the war victims in the north who continue to live in poverty.
Northern Uganda Diocese Bishop Rev. Godfrey Loum in his sermon to hundreds of people who attended the memorial service said it would be wise for the government to roll out the same initiative countrywide if the region was at the same pace with others.
He said other parts of the country are far ahead of the Acholi Sub-region in terms of socioeconomic development and would be unfair for the government to issue the same program hoping to get the same results.
Translation “In this PDM, it’s like a race competition but the Acholi are a distance behind while others are already in the lead. The government should review this very well, they should first let Acholi leave the last position and be brought to where others are for a fair competition. We can’t come from behind and be expected to compete with the rest of Uganda,” He said.
Bishop Loum however asked the residents in the region to stop dependency syndrome and wait for the government’s handout but engage in productive ventures to eradicate poverty in their households.
Gulu Resident District Commissioner Charles Ichogor however noted that the PDM approach rolled out by the government is an initiative that will help people in the region recover and also eradicate poverty.
He called on the beneficiaries to embrace the project and use it for the transformation of their household and community.
During the memorial prayers, the Chairperson of the Lukodi Survivors and Victims Association Wilfred Lalobo noted that their members are facing a number of challenges several years after the gun fell silent in the region.
He highlighted that the majority of the survivors and victims are struggling to access land for settlement and farming due to discrimination, inability to educate their children due to poverty, and trauma as a result of the horrific massacre.
Lalobo however said the association is planning to construct a modern memorial center with detailed documentation of the massacre but called on the government for support.
The association according to Lalobo has already acquired two acres’ piece of land within Lukodi village for the construction of the modern Museum.
The State Minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny who presided over yesterday’s memorial service noted that the government will look into the plans of the association and make an appropriate recommendation.
She commended the members for their vision of a memorial center adding that it’s a tourism idea that can fetch the survivors and victims money.