Monday, November 29, 2010

We shall deal with the issues which cause unrest

In today's analysis in Daily Monitor, Margaret Wokuri presents a solid case on the readiness of the IPC government to reconstruct and develop nothern Uganda, and the rest of the country as well. 

Scholars have written that unlike famine, war has taken place in modern democracies when irresponsible leaders exploit grievances for political and economic gain, or when the lure of ‘simple solutions overwhelm common sense’.

In retrospect, either because of personal ambition, or irresponsibility, leaders took advantage of people’s grievances and plunged Northern and North Eastern parts of Uganda into 21 years of armed conflict.

Additionally, because of the allure of simple solutions, a problem that could have been sorted out politically dragged on, partly, as a result of the current leadership’s obsession with military conquests.

War and conflict certainly destroys national economies, deepens poverty and sows seeds of future violence. Indeed, the economic life of the people of Northern and North Eastern parts of Uganda has been destroyed, the once fertile areas like Teso that were food baskets have been reduced to perpetual hunger and famine, and poverty looms highest in this particular region.

While whole communities are destroyed by war and conflict, it is worse for women who often find themselves taking on new roles of fending for the family while subjected to unique vulnerabilities such as mass rape. HIV/Aids prevalence rates in parts of northern Uganda range between 9% and 14%, compared to a national average of 6.4%. The region has the lowest life expectancy and literacy rates. These factors translate into an inability to participate meaningfully in the national economy, even if this were growing.

Predictably, once all these factors are not ably addressed, they remain a powder- keg for future conflict. To borrow the words of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan’s words, humanity cannot enjoy development without security and at the same time cannot enjoy security without development. Northern Uganda has missed out on both security and development.

It is against this background that the Inter-Party Cooperation has designed a comprehensive framework to deal with reconstruction and development of Northern Uganda. The IPC-led government intends to address the economic imbalance faced by the people of Northern Uganda by implementing a deliberate affirmative action policy that will target focused investment such as increasing access to clean water, quality education, and a health care system that works.

The IPC government will also avail tractors to farmers to open up their land. IPC government will compensate all those people who lost their properties and family members during the war.

IPC will take gender focused considerations such as insolvency of women in peace and resettlement; women shall be given legal aid services as well as psycho-social support services to help those that have been traumatised by the war recover.

In the north east, Karamoja has its unique challenges which therefore call for unique solutions. The Karimojong peoples have long been perceived by neighbouring tribes as hostile neighbours because of their armed cattle rustling practices. The policy and practice of the current government to forcefully disarm the Karimojong has resulted in untold suffering, and has not solved the problem of armed violence and cattle rustling in the region.

The IPC government shall therefore engage in dialogue and negotiation with both the Karimojong and their neighbours to end cattle rustling, conduct a peaceful disarmament policy and work with communities to enable them change their life style. All Karimojong people need to begin to see the armed forces of the country as forces in place for their protection, and not violent invaders.

The people of Karamoja will be actively involved in the development of their sub-region. Intensive and sustained investment will be applied to the following key areas: water for drinking, livestock and agriculture, education, healthcare, and security.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

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