Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arachek Dam set to transform agriculture in karamoja MS For decades, long dry spells have wrecked havoc in the Karamoja sub region leaving thousands of people to move long distances in search of water. But with the construction of new dams across the region under the supervision of the first lady Janet Museveni who is also the Minister in Charge of Karamoja, the Karamojong’s agony is nearing an end. A new three kilometer long valley dam- the biggest in the country has been constructed at Arechek in Napak district to provide clean water to thousands of people. “ If it weren’t for the Minister in Charge of Karamoja Affairs, Janet Museveni, this project wouldn’t be here. Can you imagine it has taken less that two years to complete it yet the people of Karamoja have waited for a long time to get a valley dam here. This is because Mrs. Museveni has made everyone here accountable including our contractors. The people of Karamoja are very excited about the valley dam project and are looking forward to the benefits especially provision of water for human and animal consumption. We are now in position to have water throughout the year and this is going to boost agricultural sector in this region,” Joseph Lamongin ,Chief Administrative Officer, (CAO) of the newly created Napak district says. The multipurpose Arechek valley dam, which has been constructed at shs.6.2bn will provide 2.5M cubic centimeters of water. “This is value for money. We are now planning for irrigation. The valley dam will also provide water for the communities who are now agro-pastoralists. We shall treat the water for human consumption-something that has never been heard of in this region,” Lamongin stated. And the valley dam is not only set to transform the livelihood of the karamojong –it’s also fast becoming a tourists attraction. “ People who are coming to the region including foreign visitors pass-by to see this beautiful development. Many are mistaking it for a lake,” says one of the residents. Napak district with it’s new symbol of development is one of the seven districts that been carved out of from Moroto district in the Karamoja region. With an estimated population of 176,000 (Males: 87,300 (49.5%); Females: 89,200 (50.5%) Napak has 28 government aided Primary Schools and 11 Community Schools. There three secondary Schools, 1 Technical School –Nawaikorot and 40 Sedentary -Alternative Basic Education for Karamojong (ABEK) Centres (29 in Nawaikorot and 11 in Naitakwae Parishes of Ngoleriet Sub County). By 2010 , Napak had registered an enrollment of 17,651 primary school going pupils-,9,919 of them boys and 7,732 girls. Kangole Senior Secondary School there are 775 students and Andrew and St. Daniel Comboni SS with a student population of 190 and 585, respectively. But with all these achievements registered in Napak district’s education sector , there are challenges too. Lamongin says that while the district is registering an increased enrollment of pupils and students, there are still very few teachers. “ Many schools are also located in hard to reach areas due to a poor road network, lack of transport for monitoring, Supervision and inspection.” About the health facilities, the district has no government hospital but there is a Matany missionary hospital with a nursing school. This hospital is supplemented by 11 health Units. . General Health Indicators for Napak District are Infant mortality rate 105-1000 compared to the national average which is 76/1000,Under 5 mortality rate 174/1000 while national average is 137/1000;Maternal mortality rate 620/100,000 national is 435/100,000;Women in child bearing age 47.8% national48%. The life expectancy in Napak is still very low at 32 years compared to the national average which is now 50 years; the district fertility rate of 7.2 is high and above the national average of 6.2. At 57% of the population in Napak walk 5km to reach a health unit and the nurses per population ratio is at an alarming 1: 2,300 and doctors per population1:40,000. The immunization coverage in the district is 55%compared to the national average at 59%. The people of Karamoja are also changing their way of life from living a purely pastoral life style where they move from one place to another largely in search of pasture for their big herds of cattle to agro-pastoral and thus settling in communities. “ The are now adopting to farming and we have introduce new improved crops like cassava and matoke. Now you are beginning to see the Karamojong settling down in communities. And because of this, we now have 50 functional farmer groups per sub county supported by various development partners and the central government through the Naads and Peace Recovery Development Programme (PRDP) which being implemented in eastern, karamoja and northern regions. The district officials are also making efforts to extend clean water to the communities. At least 256 boreholes have been sunk with the water coverage now standing at 78%. Piped water is only found in Kangole urban center. The Matany water supply was constructed by the Ministry of Water and Environment complete with a Solar Systems but the scheme is non functional. “ The scheme has been revisited by the Ministry Engineers but with no feedback on when it will be rectified, the Cao says. There is also a mini water scheme in Iriiri constructed under ECHO project mainly to serve the health centre in the Trading Centre. The construction and maintenance of roads has been taken over by the Uganda National Roads Authority. The roads include Matany – Lokopo 16Km ,Lokopo – Turutuko – Apeitolim 60Km ,Lopeei – Turutuko 20Km,Kangole – Lotome 13Km,Iriiri – Apeitolim 30Km. “Our road network although not tarmacked its very motorable. It used to take 3 hours to drive from Napak to Iriir now it takes less than 45 minutes. Local revenue generation is still a problem in Napak just like many other local governments. Out of annual budget of shs.10bn only shs.125m is collected locally . “ We are just recovering from insecurity and the people are very poor. The central government should allow us to collect more taxes so that we deliver on the many demands from the people,” says the Cao. He was however happy to note that through Nusaf II and PRDP, the central government was supporting Alternative livelihood by training the community to engage in income generating activities like improved agricultural techniques to increase crop and animal production and household incomes. “ You know our people have not been business oriented but they are slowly changing their attitude to commerce. Very soon we shall be ok.” Lamongin said that the district was also promoting tourism in raise the much needed revenue for development. “Recently a skulls of human beings believed to be 20m years old have been discovered in Napak mountains, we have wildlife-ostriches ,the scenery, leopards among others. We are protecting all these tourists attractions and encouraging people to come and see the beauty of this place,” he says. Lamongin also said the district was rich in minerals and called upon mining companies to express interest in the virgin mineral fields in the area. The district’s development partners include, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which has offered shs.350m to construct an office block , UNICEF helping to eradicate malaria, world Health Organisation (WHO) helping with disease surveillance, Moroto Catholic Diocese, health facility, UNFPA focusing on reproductive health, equipment Support World Food Programme supporting Maternal and child and health care and ACF providing nutrition for malnourished children. The district started its operations on July 1st 2010. Napak district lies in the north eastern Uganda and comprises of one County Bokora; Seven Sub Counties of Iriiri, Lopeei, Lokopo, Lotome, Lorengecora, Matany and Ngoleriet; Two Town Boards of Kangole and Matany; and one Town Council of Lorengecora. Currently the District Offices are in Kangole. Led by the LCV Chairman , Mr Paul Lomonyang Joseph, Napak district council is made up of 19 councillors. Profiles: Mr. Joseph Lamongin, the Chief Administrative Officer, Napak, was born in Lomorimong village 40 years ago and he has been in public service since 1998. This article was first published in Government Review a monthly magazine that focus on national development issues The writer is a development communcations ,media consultant and advocate of High Court

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