With barely three months left to close shop, the call to renew a programme looking to improve livelihoods in the sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile, is gaining momentum.
The government is urging funders to extend the project duration, this time with an objective of consolidating the gains registered thus far.
The Shs602 billion Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) is set to draw the curtains in April after a positive review of its impact on livelihoods and household income in the 41 districts in the five sub-regions from 2017 to 2023.
Despite the high potential of agriculture in the five sub-regions, it also emerged that its contribution to poverty reduction and improved nutrition is still lacking, notably as a result of poor nutrition knowledge, malfunctioning value chains, and poor transport infrastructure.
And it is for that reason that leadership at both local and national level believe the DINU project still comes in handy.
In an interview last week, the Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Ms Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, said: “This is one of the most successfully implemented programmes. It deserves an extension because of the positive outcomes it has registered so far in northern Uganda.”
She continued: “The next stage should concentrate on infrastructure such as storage, and aspects of marketing because these two are critical in turning around the fortunes of entire northern Uganda region.”
According to Ms Kwiyucwiny, DINU, which is supported by the European Union (EU), was developed with a view to promoting relevant value chains in the agricultural sector while at the same time working with the local governments and the private sector to deliver quality services to the citizens.
To that effect, in May 2019, a contract was awarded by OPM and partners to Caritas Switzerland and Advance Afrika, Agency for Accelerated Regional Development, and Gulu Women Economic Development and Globalisation to implement the Action for Livelihood Enhancement in Northern Uganda (ALENU) project, whose result has been commendable, necessitating an extension of the programme, according to Ms Kwiyucwiny.
The chief executive officer of Advance Afrika, Ms Sharon Atukunda, said in an interview after the multi-stakeholder dialogue that the project has strengthened farmer groups’ marketing and advocacy skills and enhanced household income.
She also said it has firmed their confidence while engaging with value chain players, including key government structures to leverage policy coherence between production, trade and consumption.
Ms Atukunda further noted that emerging issues such as further livelihood enhancement, access to market for smallholder farmers, value addition, and sustainability concerns need focus going forward.
In her remarks during the dialogue, Ms Kwiyucwiny noted that while the project comes to an end, the existing structures and institutions at government, civil society, community, and private sector levels, whose capacities were built, should ensure effective supervision, technical backstopping as well as maintenance of project results.
“As a result, they will have stronger capacities to continue to play a key role in the development of Northern Uganda, especially with the implementation of parish development model,” she said.