As the country dilly-dallies on having local council one elections,I would like to prophesy that forty years from now, we shall be regretting why this small yet so important facet in nation building and development, was ignored. Already we are paying a price following the wave of insecurity that has struck the nation most specifically in the central region. However, my thoughts regarding what we might be missing out knowingly or unknowingly, on the absence of Local Council 1’s are economically driven.
Scholars and economists in Uganda have given numerous reasons why we were’ left behind’ by the Asian tigers;including the detriments of political instability from the late 60’s up to the early 90’s inclusive of the Kony war in Northern Uganda that lasted over 20 years. Also, I would like to agree that the destruction of cooperatives was uncalled for owing to the fact that farmers were doing well then compared to how they are fairing today. Already holes have been poked in the method government has employed in fighting army worms due to a lack of coordination at the grass roots. National Agricultural Advisory Services(NAADS),Bonna Bagagawale and operation wealth creation are also victims.
My father was a District Cooperative Officer and I was mature enough to notice the merits of the system,however, he too complained about government negligence towards that sector. Let me focus on LC1s,Uganda has not conducted elections for LCI (village) and LCII (parish) for the last 15 years, the last one having been held in 2001 before the country shifted from the one-party Movement system to the multiparty system of governance and this is why we are paying dearly economically!
According to a paper authored by the World Bank on social mobilization and enhancing livelihoods Social mobilization, along with economic empowerment and graduation, should be at the heart of the rural livelihood development strategy. By far the most dramatic growth and consequent shift in poverty has occurred in China. The World Bank, looking at several countries during the quarter century between 1981 and 2005, concluded that poverty rates for China went from 84% to 16% a drop of 81%, and for India from 60% to 42%—a drop of 30%. At the beginning of this period (1981) only four countries had a worse poverty rate than China—Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda. But decades later these four countries remain more or less where they were, while China moved ahead. Why? India began to move ahead rapidly after 1991. Why?
The benefits of broad economic growth trickle down very slowly when the poor have little access to key physical, social and financial endowments. To overcome highly unequal distribution of these endowments and achieve rapid pro-poor growth, poor people need new opportunities to organize, to generate business and to link with mainstream development activities.
Social mobilization,(local councils) as a way to develop institutions of the poor as opposed to institutions for the poor, is a central component of effective rural livelihood development.
Mobilizing poor people provides them with the “voice” and the scale required to more effectively engage with the range of institutions and individuals providing public and private services. A second component, economic empowerment, through micro-credit, grants or skills training, facilitates access to assets, increases income, and demonstrates creditworthiness of individuals and groups. Ultimately these self-help groups may graduate to form other federative and associative movements involved in income-earning activities including public-private partnerships, various types of franchising and contract farming arrangements
With only 7431 parishes and 57, 842 villages in 1403 sub-counties,why should rapid economic development take us ages ?The answer is complex—a mix of culture, changes in government policy, and changes in arrangements in the political economy.