One of the things that the President has been fighting endlessly is poverty. This is why he set up the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger. The Poverty Alleviation Department (PAD) in State House was established in 2000 as a clearing house for pledges made by President Yoweri Museveni. In 2003, the department was mandated to develop wealth creation models. The department has so far designed more than 12 initiatives aimed at increasing productivity and value addition.
A model parish is an innovation evolved by the President to demonstrate how systematically a high concentration of projects in a model parish can be used to tackle poverty and speed up rural transformation.
PAD works in tandem with other government anti-poverty initiatives. The programme aims at enhancing or supplementing the five pillars of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) and the Prosperity For All programme, especially the element that calls for the creation of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS).
The five pillars of PAP include, Income Generation, Food Security, Home Improvement, Value Addition and Marketing, and Savings and Credit.
PAD has recorded tremendous success. For example, there are more than 19 model parishes being run under the PAD programme. These include Ruharo model parish in Bushenyi, Kasokwe Model Parish in Kaliro, Lwabenge in Masaka, Kikoni in Ntungamo, Busiita in Sironko, Kyanamukaka in Masaka, Sheme in Bushenyi, Bwera in Kamwenge, Petta in Tororo, Nakyesanja in Mpigi, Rwenganju in Kabarole, Mbulamuti in Kamuli, Mwanyagiri in Mukono, Rwentondo in Rukungiri, Kisozi in Mpigi, Mangho in Mbale, Mucuumi in Kitgum, Syanyonga in Busia and Buwemba in Masaka.
To become a model parish, farmers were given better yielding seeds and other farm implements for their farms. For example, by July 2009, 12,400 banana suckers had been given out to farmers. Ideally, since an acre takes around 400 suckers, these were able to cover over 26 acres. A farmer can harvest at least 100 bunches from an acre per month.
In addition, Lwabenge also recieved 22 in calf heifers that were given to 22 house holds. There were also two bulls in the parish, purposely to cater for the calves. These cows produce at least 10 to 14 liters per day. The residents had also formed SACCOS and were ably marketing their produce.
In Ntungamo district, Kikoni was selected as the model parish. As of July 2009, the parish had received banana suckers, goats, cows, hives for apiary and many other income enhancing implements. A total of 2,589 pullets and 249 cocks had been distributed. Chicken beneficiaries were given between 50-200 chicken depending on capacity.
The bananas have drastically improved food security in the parish. As a multiplier effect from earnings from the farms, the houses in most of the model parishes are cleaner. Each of them has a toilet that is equally clean. The use of improved stoves to improve on usage of wood was also practiced.
Another example of a selected model parish is Ruhaaro in Bushenyi. Ruharo, was among the very first model parishes, since it started in 2004. When a team of researchers from the Office of the President visited the parish in 2009, they realized that some of the programmes were not going according to plan. The team observed that some of the inputs were not doing well. For example, they noticed that although some of the families catered for the bananas, others did not do so, hence leading to poor productivity. They also discovered that compared to some of the cattle in other model parishes, those in Ruharo were not producing as much milk.
In the Busoga region, one of the selected model parishes is Mbulamuti in Kamuli district. Like the other model parishes, most of the population here is mainly engaged in agriculture produce. When a team of researchers from the President’s Office visited the area on a fact-finding tour, they realized that many of the residents had not yet adapted to the idea. The team was informed that out of the 1,000 households in the parish, only 24 had benefited from the programme. But the encouraging news was that most of those who had benefited were doing well.
By July 2009, 84 goats had been handed out to the residents and all of them were doing well. The residents had also received over 400 coffee seedlings, 3,000 banana suckers, 2,500 fish fingerlings, chicken and other implements. Overall according to the researchers’ observations, food security was not so good too and needed to improve.
While Mbulamuti and Ruharo were not performing well, this was not the case with Mangho parish in Mbale district. As of July 2009, the parish had received 20 heifers and each of them was producing an average 12 liters of milk per day. Local chicken given to various families was also doing well, while the bananas had also produced and one of the benefiting farmers was already earning sh500,000 from the bananas per month. Overall, the idea of model villages is changing lives across the country.