By James Karuhanga

Senior Researcher East Africa, GLCSS

 

In the wake of the on-going peace talks in South Sudan, there is hope for peace, recovery and development in northern Uganda as the number of Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) attacks have reduced dramatically since the beginning of July this year.

 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) President, George Rupp, recently visited the war ravaged northern region and revealed that there were promising signs of peace and recovery as calm had returned. People in Lira district were returning home as post conflict reconstruction by government in conjunction with development partners is ensuing.
 

‘’What northern Uganda needs is, first and foremost, a bottom up approach to development,’’ emphasized Hon. Betty Aol Ochan, Gulu District Woman Member of Parliament and opposition parliamentarian. She urged that the government                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     shouldallow Peace, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Development Programmes for the North to be handled by a commission.

 

‘’Parliamentarians from the region, cultural leaders and religious leaders have to be involved in vetting names for people to hold office,’’ she urged.

 

Ochan also claimed that corruption has hampered development programs for the North. She pointed to the North Uganda Rehabilitation Programme (NURP) and Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) as being hindered by corruption. The northern region of Uganda has for twenty years lagged behind others in terms of development due to the effects of the LRA’s insurgency and cattle rustling by Karimojong warriors in the north east.

According to the 2005 Uganda Poverty Status Report, close to 80 percent of the population in different parts of north and eastern Uganda continue to live in refugee camps. As of July 2005, the total number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the north and north east stood at 1.8 million people distributed across 250 camps.
 

Using the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) baseline number of 1.6 million IDPs in 2002/03, this translates into a 14 percent rise in the number of IDPs in the country and, according to the report, unless drastic measures are taken the PEAP medium term target of zero IDPs by 2007/08 is likely to be unattainable.

 

The report also states that assessments by various government and non-government agencies, including the UNHCR, reveal that living conditions in IDP camps are very poor: inadequate shelter, inadequate health services, lack of drugs, shortage of personnel, and high instances of disease due to poor sanitation, inadequate and congested housing facilities and unprotected water sources.

 

The UNHCR is assisting in joint efforts with other organizations in aiding the IDPs. An agreement was reached on limited involvement with IDPs in refugee-hosting areas and a commitment to assess other populations within the UN Country Team framework.  

 

In August 2004, the government launched the national policy for IDPs. The policy’s mission is to ensure that IDPs enjoy the same rights and freedoms under the constitution and all other laws like rest of the Ugandan population.

 

The 2005 report suggests that insecurity in the north and northeastern parts of Uganda over the last 20 years is the most important explanatory factor for the high poverty incidence in the region. It has resulted in death and human displacement, grossly undermining the productive sector and leading to poor service delivery.

 

In a bid to address this problem the government, in conjunction with development partners, is in the process of preparing a comprehensive Recovery and Development Plan for the North which provides a broad framework for short, medium and long-term actions. This plan aims to consolidate on-going programs so that the new initiatives are complimentary to existing ones.

 

The programs focus on strategic issues identified on the basis of conflict prevention, management/mitigation and resolution. The plan includes deep analysis and mapping of the conflicts, and addresses socio-economic and political factors affecting development in the region.

 

The recovery and development program’s goal is to achieve peace, recovery and development in the north and northeastern Uganda by 2015. According to the report, this will be achieved by pursuing the following objectives:

 

  1. Consolidation of State Authority thereby providing an enabling environment for peace, recovery and economic development of the region through – a) cessation of armed hostilities, b) re-establishing and consolidation of law and order in communities, c) strengthening the judicial services functionality and, d) strengthening local government capacity.

 

  1. Rebuilding and empowering communities by – a) enhancing quality of life for non-displaced populations, b) return and resettlement of displaced population – urban, semi-urban and rural, c) socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants and other returning populations and d) initiating of community rehabilitation and development activities.

 

  1. Restoration of the economy through a) re-activating productive sectors (agriculture, services, industry), b) rehabilitating critical infrastructure, and c) reinforcing mechanisms for sound management of environment and natural resources.

 

  1. Peace building and reconciliation through a) ensuring increased access to media or information, b) strengthening social capital in communities, c) reinforcing mechanisms for preventing local intra or inter communal conflicts and d) strengthening partnership with civil society and the private sector.

 

 

As of December 2005, an inter-ministerial technical committee had been formed following president Museveni’s directive. Consultations with all government sectors, local governments, members of parliament, civil society and development partners were undertaken. The US government has already designed a post-war recovery program for northern Uganda to cost $88m (estimated sh158.4b).

 

William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at wchurch@glcss.org. GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.
 

Be Sociable, Share!