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Relief as PDM rolls out to South Karamoja.

A beneficiary in Nakapiripirit after receiving her cash

By Edward Akaki – Karamoja

A sigh of relief engulfed the faces of many as they witnessed the first beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model in Karamoja receiving their loaned cash from Post bank agents in Nabilatuk, Nakapiripirit, Moroto, and Amudat.

About 25 people from each of the above districts whose loan applications were already processed and approved through the different bureaucracies were handed cash amounts that they had applied to get.

According to Michael Ayepa, Karamoja Regional coordinator PDM, over 47.2B has been disbursed to the different SACCO accounts (472) in the region with each parish SACCO receiving 100 million.

He said this money has been lying idle in the different accounts since February and could not be rolled out because the collected data was not adequate for the people to receive cash but relieved that the money is now being handed to the beneficiaries.

Michael Ayepa, PDM coordinator, Karamoja region

Ayepa called upon the people to continue borrowing the money and putting it into positive activities so that it’s repaid and revolved around the parish for people who will not benefit this time round to also benefit later.

He said other regions have already disbursed monies to Sacco’s but in Karamoja, only less than 100 m out of the 51b has been disbursed.

Paul Lokol the district chairperson Nabilatuk said he is finally relieved of the pressure that he used to get from his electorates adding that at least after witnessing a few (27) receive the cash, he will spread the news that PDM is no longer a myth.

He called upon the beneficiaries to put the money into businesses or profitable agriculture to help save some money so that by the time of refund, they have enough to continue with the same venture that the loan is received for.

Angelina Achia a beneficiary from Nakapiripirit explained that life has not been easy before but is hopeful that the money will now transform their lives moving on.

Helen Angolere, a beneficiary from Lorengedwat Sub-county in Nabilatuk district, explained that most of the people in the villages had lost hope of ever receiving PDM money. Still, now the hopes have increased as people have started receiving their requested loans.

She however claimed the delays in the delivery of the cash affected their business plans as most of the people had planned to do agriculture, but now the season has passed.

David Pedo, a beneficiary from the Nakapiripirit district, said that now after receiving the money he will make sure his family no longer goes hungry as he will start large-scale agriculture alongside produce dealings.

According to the statistics shared by the District production and marketing department in Nakapiripirit, about 450 households in the 35 parishes will benefit from the program when all the money is rolled out.

Paul Lokut, the youth councillor of Nakapiripirit district highlighted that PDM now that it is launched will help the youth to develop and in addition, reduce the raids that have badly affected the region.

In Nabilatuk, 24 parish SACCOs registered (26 but 2 not yet coded) with a total of 139 groups, 4170 members and each parish receiving 107 m (all money disbursed into the different accounts).

Kyeyune Ssenyonjo, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Nabilatuk cautioned the different politicians who blatantly misguide the community whenever government programs come up.

He blamed some politicians for misleading the masses, saying such funds are a thank-you gift from the president for voting him. He explained that voting is paid for through better services to the citizens such as roads construction & maintenance, security, healthcare among others.

Hon. Esther Anyakun said the government decided to bring money down to the parish level because in the past, most programs were mismanaged due to the corruption involved during the process from central to local governments.

She tasked area leaders to take the lead in sensitizing the masses and also provide oversight so that the PDM program in the region can flourish.

She said it is wrong for politicians to always engage with their people only when the electioneering period approaches. Furthermore, she urged the community to be keen and chose leaders who will always represent their interests.

During the launching of this rollout of PDM cash in the different locations, many challenges were realized during the data collection, accounts registration and paying of the beneficiaries;

Bank costs

During the launch at Lorengedwat sub-county, Nabilatuk district, beneficiaries were handed money less than 40,000/= of the requested amount, something that caused commotions between bank officials, leaders and the beneficiaries.

One Helen Angolere explained that she had applied for 800,000/= to help her start a piggery farm but received only 760,000/= which she says has affected her planned estimates.

Angolere added that she does not understand why all that money was cut, and now she will have to go back to the drawing board to adjust her budget to fit the amount she received.

Bank officials handing over cash explained to beneficiaries that; 10,000/= for account maintenance, 15,000/= for ATM cards, and 6,000/= for over-the-counter withdraw totalling 31,000/= was the amount being deducted from initial loan amounts. An amount that does not reflect the 40,000/= being deducted.

Esther Anyakun, the woman Member of Parliament for Nakapiripirit who was the guest of honour called for the immediate rectification of this abnormality calling upon the different stakeholders to harmonize and give every the exact amount they requested.

Michael Ayepa promised to forward the issue to the national coordinators at the PDM headquarters to harmonize with Post Bank and those who received less money be sent the cut amount. Something he confirmed was worked on, as only a 10,000/= account maintenance fee was removed from the loan amounts during the launch at Nakapiripirit.

In Nakapiripirit, the bank officials confirmed that after harmonising with the stakeholders and their top bosses, they have agreed to only deduct the 10,000/= maintenance fee.

Facilitation for monitoring

Paul Lokol, LC5 chairperson Nabilatuk called for funding of supervision and monitoring as the district uses local revenue which is meant for other activities in the district.

He said as a district, they used money from the local revenue to facilitate the district technocrats in village-to-village movements while mobilizing and registering the different beneficiaries.

Emmanuel Olaboro Ejuku, the Chief Administrative Officer of Nabilatuk said data collection, insecurity, operational funds, and gadgets are among the key reasons for preventing people from easily accessing money.

He said since the secretariat did not provide a budget for administrative costs, it has been hard for the officials to perform their best but through the chairperson of the district and his council some small facilitation was allocated and has helped finalize the processes.

In his final remarks, he committed to making sure that not a single coin of PDM is misused either by technocrats or the beneficiaries.

Michael Ayepa said “the issue has been noted, and it is a national concern that the PDM secretariat is working on, hopefully in this new financial year the local governments will be getting the monitoring package in the budget.”

Mobile money and ATM use

Karamoja is a highly remote area with fewer mobile money outlets and countable banks, most people are wondering why the bank had made it a must that all accounts opened for PDM get an ATM card that costs about 15,000/=.

Additionally, the bank officials during the launch at Nabilatuk pointed out that soon the beneficiaries will be receiving money through different mobile money numbers, something that was not taken easily by guests in attendance.

Reports that confirmed is that the community was not well sensitized during the time of account opening and most (if not all) ticked for almost all the available packages without considering financial demands and the viability of the service they were applying for in their locality.

According to Sylvia Awas a woman member of parliament, Nabilatuk the community within Karamoja do not need mobile money or even ATM cards as the majority have never used them before.

She claims that this would be a waste of resources and most of the monies would be lost in the process due to the technicality of the means.

Upon noting such concerns from the different technical and political leaders, the bank officials halted the planned use of mobile money transactions and as well the handing of ATM cards to the beneficiaries.

Currently, over 50 billion shillings still lie idle in the different SACCO accounts, awaiting loaning out to the communities.

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