Three west Nile districts of Arua, Terego and Madi-Okollo on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on sharing funds worth Shs 11bn from the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development -Additional Financing (USMID-AF) Program.
The fund is part of a USD 360m facility providing additional financing for districts and municipalities hosting refugees over five years for infrastructural development, especially upgrade of roads.
At the signing ceremony presided over by Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Kamya at Gulu City Council, the three districts agreed that Terego district would take 45 % of the funds, Madi-Okolo 35% and Arua 20%.
Kamya said that the influx of refugees into Uganda has put enormous pressure on local governments’ ability to provide services to citizens and refugees given the rapid increase in population.
“In some of these refugee hosting districts, the refugee population is higher than that of the locals. The country therefore has to come up with various strategies to sustain this increasing population,” she said.
It’s estimated that Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, according to the United Nations.
Kamya noted that the third National Development Plan prioritizes infrastructure development as one of the areas that needs to be fast tracked if the country is to attain middle-income status as envisioned in the Uganda Vision 2040.
Joseph Walter Pade, the Commissioner for Urban development in the Land’s ministry, said the funds were divided based on the number of refugees each district has.
“Each of the three districts wanted to take all the money but through a series of meetings, they agreed to share it,” he said.
The funds were in 2019 allocated to Arua Municipality but had to be shared after two other constituencies-Terego and Madi-Okolo were carved out of Arua.
Pade said that works which have been delayed by the conflict between the districts will now fully kick off in February 2021 with the commissioning of a contractor.
He however, said that some preliminary works like physical planning, rapid physical planning assessment to inform the land tenure component had been ongoing even amidst the conflict.
Obiga Kania, the member of Parliament, Terego district who also doubles as the state minister for internal affairs hailed the leaders from the three districts for choosing Gulu as the venue for the signing of the MOU saying they can learn effective use of government resources from Gulu which has done a good job with the USMID funds.
Charles Luwa, the Gulu City Economic Planner while presenting a report on the impact of the USMID project on Gulu noted that the infrastructure had attracted new investments and modern businesses in Gulu which are able to operate even at night due to the good road network and street lighting.
USMID is being implemented in 22 municipal local governments including eight which are hosting refugees.
The eight additional municipal local governments include Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Arua, Isingiro, Kiryandongo, Kamwenge and Lamwo that have faced a high influx of refugees.
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