No new cases of nodding disease, Acholi elders say as President unveils government plan to address social dislocation in northern Uganda

Sunday 28th October 2012

President Yoweri Museveni has said there is urgent need to rehabilitate the north and northeastern Uganda and empower elders as a way of addressing the social dislocation in the region following years of conflict, adding that his government had a grand plan to re-launch the restocking exercise in the region.

The President was also happy to learn that following the mass treatment campaign he launched against river blindness in March at Angura Health Centre in Pader district, there have been no reports of new cases of the nodding disease registered by the Ministry of Health.

Medical experts have linked the nodding disease to the Black fly which also causes river blindness. According to the President, he received reports that the majority of children with nodding disease were also found to have a high load of river blindness, thus his decision to direct for massive treatment and spraying. The President said he would investigate reports of the delay by the ministry of health to spray river beds against black flies.

The President was last Friday meeting members of Pader District Elders Forum, led by Mr. Francis Odida, who called on him at his country home in Rwakitura in Kiruhuura district. The delegation had earlier visited progressive farmers including Ms. Kiiza in Masaka to share experiences on how to optimally land use.

President Yoweri Museveni pledged 50 indigenous cows and 20 Friesian cows, one tractor, 100 ox-ploughs, 50 bicycles and Shs.50 million to Pader Elders Forum to empower them economically to be able to implement their activities of mobilizing their people in the fight against river blindness and nodding disease, social dislocation and youth sensitization about cultural morals.

Using a local proverb, the President said a grandfather with sweet banana is the one respected by the grandchildren, adding that this social dislocation is a problem in the region, including in Karamoja. He said government would use the Pader Elders model to support the elderly across the region including seeking guidance from the office of the Prime Minister on the housing scheme.

Mr. Museveni cautioned the people of Acholi Sub-Region against land fragmentation.

“If you cannot stop traditional land inheritance practices now, the land will be fragmented and will not be of any benefit in the future. I urge the people of Acholi to divide what you get out of the land rather than parceling out the land into small pieces because of inheritance pressures”, he said.

He explained that the practice of land fragmentation adversely affects the volume of the economic activities leading people to become poorer.  He warned that if traditional land practices leading to fragmentation continue unabated, the region would lose consolidated chunks of land in the next 20 years for meaningful large scale commercial production.

The President highly commended the people of Northern Uganda for voting for the National Resistance Movement Government in the 2011 National Elections.

Mr. Mokili Amoi, one of the elders, thanked President Museveni for his efforts to uplift the economic development of Uganda in general and of Northern Uganda in particular. He said that it was because of the President’s commendable leadership that the country had registered positive developments since the assumption of political power by the National Resistance Movement. He lauded the President for his unwavering commitment to fighting negative forces in Northern Uganda and also for his personal commitment the eradication of the river blindness disease in the same area.

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