Celebrating 20 years of Decentralisation in Uganda: UNDP recognised
KABALE- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Uganda has been recognised for its support to decentralisation and local development in the country.
This recognition was made during the first ever celebrations to mark the African Day of Decentralisation and Local Development held in Kabale district, South Western Uganda, these celebrations coincided with the 20 year anniversary since the decentralisation process in Uganda started.
Handing over the award, the Minister of Local Government, Honourable Adolf Mwesige thanked the UNDP and other UN agencies for supporting the decentralisation process from its inception to the present day.
“Due to the decentralisation process, the country has witnessed key milestones that brought about tremendous socio economic and political transformation in Uganda, such as having popularly elected leaders both at parliament and the local level, having basic services such as primary education, primary care health, periodic and routine road maintenance and agricultural services delivered at local levels with public servants delivering them,” Hon. Adolf Mwesige said.
He added that Government alone would not have achieved all these without the support of various development partners including UNDP, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), various other UN agencies and development partners.
Ms. Almaz Gebru, UNDP’s Country Director who represented the development partners thanked the Ministry for the recognition and pledged UNDP’s and development partners’ continued support of the government of Uganda’s efforts to achieve a transformed and prosperous society.
She added that since the early 1990s, UNDP together with UNCDF, Danish Development Aid (DANIDA), Irish Aid, Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank have proudly partnered with the Government of Uganda to support the development and implementation of decentralization.
“UNDP and UNCDF particularly provided support under the District Development Project 1 that piloted the testing and refining of the Planning, Allocation, Investment and Management Procedures in line with the Local Government Act, in five districts. This pilot was later scaled up to cover the entire country by the World Bank and other bilateral donors under the Local Government Development Programme (LGDP).” Ms. Gebru added.
Other development partners such as DANIDA, supported the foundational legislative framework that led to the enactment of the Local Governments Act (1997). While, Irish Aid, DFID, DANIDA and the World Bank funded Public Service Reforms up until 2010 through a basket funding arrangement, while Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands also provided additional support to the sub-sector until 2009.
The above support since the adoption of decentralisation led to various successes in the country and had enormous impact on the political, economic and social landscape of this country. Uganda for example has a decentralisation policy strategic framework and a local government sector strategic plan to guide investment, implementation, and planning of the local government sector.
“Ugandans are participating more actively in planning, and decision making in local governance, while a majority of local governments are now meeting the minimum conditions and performance measures that have been set by the Ministry of Local Government as central aspects in professionalizing delivery of government programme through the decentralized approach,” Ms. Gebru said.
Despite this, a few constraints such as inadequate financing of decentralized services, human resource gaps, delayed local council elections, inadequate infrastructure remain.
His Excellency Hon. Edward Ssekandi, the Vice President, speaking on behalf of the President of Uganda, said that to contain some of the gaps, they intended to introduce a grant to local governments that will specifically target local economic development.
“Using this grant, local governments will be able to set up industrial and processing parks, extend electricity to service centres, set up vocational training institutions and train private sector players among other things. I would therefore like to call on local governments to turn their localities into investment and job creation for sustainable economic growth particularly for the youth of this country,” Hon. Ssekandi said.
Although this was the first African Day of Decentralisation and Local Development celebration for Uganda, the day was first celebrated in 2012 after being set aside by the African Union (AU) to remember the important contribution that local governments make to the economic prosperity of the African continent and the progress of its people.