Kasese upbeat as Museveni visits to preach wealth creation

President giving a speech during the launch of yellow bicycles. (File photo)

According to Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), the development plans are based on what the local people demanded, aiming to use the region’s agriculture and tourism potential to spur development.

ELECTIONS 2021

Like the family of a girl, expecting a visit from a suitor, Kasese is this morning upbeat with preparations for the visit of President , who will comb the Rwenzori region seeking votes for himself and NRM party flag bearers. 

Kasese has for long remained an area of ping-pong between the opposition and government, each sweeping support when they say and do the right thing. 

Former Defence minister, Chryspus Kiyonga, who is currently serving as Uganda’s Ambassador to China, represented Bukonjo County in Kasese District from 1994 when he was elected to the Constituent Assembly that drew up the 1995 Uganda Constitution.

He continuously represented Bukonjo County West, in the Ugandan Parliament, from 1980 until 2016 when he was appointed Uganda’s Ambassador to China.  While representing Bukonjo, Kiyonga served in several Cabinet positions and this could be associated with why the district was a government stronghold at the time. 

The ascension of former Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kizza to represent Women of Kasese District in Parliament  caused a major blow to government’s dominance in the area. The Opposition FDC used the strength and popularity of Kizza to establish temporary dominance until recently. With Kizza having withdrawn from elective politics, the mantle is back in the open to be taken by the best player. 

The ruling NRM has not taken anything for granted. The government set camp in Kasese as far back as 2018 when the General Coordinator Operation Wealth Creation, Gen Caleb Akandwanaho, aka Salim Saleh, camped in the Rwenzori sub-region, starting in Tooro and later Kasese, to cool tempers and woo the subjects of the Rwenzururu Kingdom who were at loggerheads with government.

Kingdom loyalists had been known to mobilise the local population to vote for Dr Kizza Besigye, who had promised them recognition. Kasese as a result was the only district in western Uganda to reject President Museveni in 2001.

Even when the government caved in and recognised the kingdom in 2005, the people of Rwenzururu still largely kept with the then newly formed Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), mainly voting Dr Besigye during presidential elections and majority of MPs and local leaders in Kasese are FDC members. 

The ruling party habitually accused the Rwenzururu cultural leadership of supporting FDC. 

Upon pitching camp in the region, Gen Saleh announced what he called a sh600b economic development master plan for the area, designed by the eight districts that make up Rwenzori where Gen Saleh visited and held several coordination meetings.

The district development master plans were then merged to form a regional development plan aimed at socio-economic transformation through agro-processing, tourism and infrastructural development.

This will be a pilot of the implementation of the Local Economic Development Policy that looks at agro-led industrialisation in the country.

According to Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), the development plans are based on what the local people demanded, aiming to use the region’s agriculture and tourism potential to spur development.

He said the development plan will see the establishment of industrial parks for agro-processing factories as the main focus to be funded by the ministry of finance. He said other ministries that have been brought on board for the implementation of the regional development plan include that of tourism, trade, local government, health, and agriculture.

In the masterplan is a sh53b development compact looking at establishing an industrial park in the area, where 500 acres of land have been earmarked for the project. He said the district will partner with Mountains of the Moon University and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) to realise the dream through value addition to agricultural products such as tea, coffee, banana, maize and dairy.

In Kasese, sh119b has been earmarked to bring development through agro-processing for value addition of cotton, maize, coffee and rice. The district boasts of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme and Muhokya mini irrigation scheme and there is a target to boost water for production so that farmers can make use of the more than 10 flowing rivers and the lakes to produce crops across the year. 

President Museveni during his scientific campaigns will meet and address a select team of NRM leaders including the youth and flag bearers of Rwenzori sub-region. He will ask for re-election through enumerating NRM achievements registered not only in the region but the entire country. 

Kasese, popularly known as the tourism district, has 29 sub-counties, 12 town councils and 3 divisions. With NRM efforts, the district has acquired numerous developments in infrastructure, health, education, poverty alleviation programmes among others.

The district has good road network including the Fort Portal-Kasese-Mpondwe road (134km), connecting the towns of Fort Portal, Hima, Kasese, Kikorongo and the border town of Mpondwe. Kikorongo-Ishaka road and Ishaka-Katunguru roads also link Kasese district with its neighbors. The district feeder road network is approximately 386.9km, the urban council road network is 346.9km, and the sub county community access roads is 2338km all of which are under maintenance.  

In the health sector, the district currently has three hospitals, five health centre IV, 42 health centre III and 69 health centre II. At least 90% parishes in Kasese district have a health centre unit implying a well-distributed health services. 

In water supply, Kasese district has a total population of 447,498 out of which 217,890 (57%) have access to safe water compared to 74% National average. There are currently 166 functional boreholes in the district.

Poverty alleviation schemes

In the Financial Year 2016/17 the NRM government introduced the Women Entrepreneurship program to boost women group income-generating activities for livelihood improvement. Since its inception, 199 groups, 2439 beneficiaries have been funded with 962,835,700 shillings.

Under the Youth Livelihood Programme, 468 groups of vulnerable youth have been supported with improvement revolving funds in the district.

Through the Special Disability Grant, the people with disabilities have been empowered which has enabled them to engage in projects that enhance their level of income.

The Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) which was rolled out in the Financial Year 2018/19 to reduce poverty and social-economic inequalities has since benefited 2,545 in the district.

In agriculture, the government introduced the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP). This project is designed to promote the production of Maize and Coffee. Under this project, farmers are supported to access critical farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides through an e-voucher system.

Education 

Kasese has 233 government primary schools with an enrollment of 81,472 boys and 87,276 girls. In secondary education, the district has 22 government-aided secondary schools with an enrollment of 11,526 students.

Before addressing the area NRM leaders, the president will take time off his campaigns to commission Ishaka-Katunguru road and Kasese Market. 

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