Legislators representing Acholi in the 11th Parliament have expressed their disappointment with the delay in implementing the NUSAF 4 program, designed to reduce poverty in their region.
The issue was raised by MP Ojara Martin Mapenduzi of Bardege-Layibi division, who believes that the delay may hinder government efforts to combat poverty in the area.
Mapenduzi stated, “It appears there are efforts to expand the program to cover the entire country, causing a prolonged delay. This could be a deliberate attempt to keep the people of Acholi and northern Uganda impoverished.”
The Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) is a government initiative aimed at eradicating poverty in regions affected by the LRA war, including Acholi, Lango, Teso, West Nile, and Karamoja.
During a press conference in Gulu city on October 1, 2023, members of the Acholi Parliamentary Group reiterated their concerns. MP Santa Okot of Aruu North said, “The government lacks a proper plan to uplift Acholi from poverty; they seem to want us to remain poor.”
The NUSAF project aims to provide improved resources, investment capital, and value addition equipment. Despite various poverty eradication programs in Acholi, such as the Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan, and the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda, the region has consistently ranked as the poorest in Uganda, with a poverty rate of 68%.
The Members of Parliament present at the press conference included Okin PP Ojara of Cwa West, Amos John Okot of Agago North, Santa Okot of Aruu North, Ojara Martin Mapenduzi of Bardege-Layibi division, and Anthony Akol of Kilak North.
Anthony Akol, the chairperson of the Acholi parliamentary group, emphasized the importance of implementing the program and suggested reviving the 2004 IDP policy to aid the reintegration of displaced individuals into their communities.
Solomon Nokrach, a social worker with experience in poverty eradication programs in Acholi, expressed concerns about corruption within these programs. He believes that mismanagement by corrupt technocrats, including Community Development Officers, is a significant issue.
The NUSAF 4 program, with a budget of USD 290 Million, was originally scheduled for implementation in July 2023, according to communications from the Parliament of Uganda.