By Francis Emorut
KAMPALA - Transformation of the lives of the people living in northern Uganda is “incredible” after a decade of insurgency, the head of a UK government department has said.
Daniel Graymore, who heads the Department for International Development (DFID) says the government should be commended for the progress in the north “as far as peoples’ economic activity is concerned”.
He cited Gulu town, which he said is presently booming with a lot of business activity – shops and markets trading in different commodities.
Gulu was one of the most affected areas during the 20-year insurgency staged by the Joseph Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Graymore spoke of the transformation of the locals’ lives in Gulu as “amazing and inspiring”, as well as a “success story”.
The DFID head made the remarks during celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Send a Cow – a Christian-based charity – at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Friday.
Send a Cow is a UK-based international development charity that works with poor African farmers to promote self-sufficiency through the development of small sustainable businesses based on growing and selling food.
At the event, Graymore praised the Uganda’s increased universal primary education enrollment and reduction of child mortality rate, as well as poverty reduction.
He pledged that DFID would continue investing in the country’s agricultural and education sector.
Earlier, guests were moved by an emotional testimony by a former LRA child soldier Joel Okello who revealed that he was forced to kill his father with an axe.
Okello was abducted at a tender age of 12 and later forced by an LRA commander to abduct a girl of 11 who eventually became his wife. They now have three children together.
He escaped from rebel activity in 2005 and is now a farmer earning an average of sh5m every month.
Former LRA child soldier Joel Okello, flanked by his wife, gives his moving testimony. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
Esther Ssempebwa, the executive director of Send a Cow, informed the guests that the organization has empowered over 4326 households in income-generating activities.
She said apart from empowering the communities with sustainable life skills, the charity also sensitizes the society in areas of family planning, hygiene and basic record book keeping.
The state minister for agriculture, Bright Rwamirama, commended the charity for uplifting the standards of vulnerable communities and exercising transparency and accountability.
He urged other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to adhere to principles of accountability and transparency.