By Robert Mugumya
Better service delivery simply means adopting best practices that focus on customer requirements. In this case, the Government is the services provider while the people are service users or customers.
Therefore, there is no doubt that better service delivery is one of the indicators of good governance in any given country. In practice, better service delivery as visualised in public services should be pro-people since good governance means putting people at the centre of development process. Allow me elaborate a few areas where NRM Government has scored positively in providing better service delivery to the ordinary people.
· Security of persons and property
It is a constitutional requirement for Uganda Government to maintain the right level of security to ensure that our country is safe, secure and free from threats of danger, crime or other security hazards. For this reason, NRM Government has made national security its top priority. In this context, Ugandans do appreciate NRM Government’s pragmatic security strategy of protecting and defending the nation. The highly disciplined and professionalized army (UPDF) has played a major role in maintaining Uganda’s good record on security service standards. In the same manner, other security agencies have made significant and invaluable contribution to the security of our nation.
Therefore NRM Government’s guarantee for security of persons and property is one of the indicators of better service delivery to the citizens. Even in a few isolated cases where some criminals have been causally linked to the deaths of innocent people, Government has moved quickly to arrest and prosecute the culprits.
I remember, in the past regimes it was a common phenomenon for government soldiers to conduct house-to-house night robberies without any disciplinary action taken against them! The general population not only lived under fear but also constant mourning for their loved ones brutally murdered by ruthless soldiers! However, NRM Government has fundamentally changed the whole trend of Uganda’s security spectrum.
· Healthcare responsiveness
Since 2011, NRM Government has committed itself to improving the quality of general healthcare services in the country. In order to realize tangible results in people’s health standards, NRM Government has intervened in mass immunization of all children under- 5 years to control preventable killer diseases. These include Polio, hooping cough, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus and measles. Government’s preventive intervention against malaria through the countrywide distribution of free insecticide treated mosquito nets has scaled down the impact of the killer disease among children.
Also Government has intervened in treatable or preventable conditions of pneumonia and diarrhea among infants by providing antibiotics and oral rehydration therapy at Health Centre III level. In addition, there is gradual improvement in maternal healthcare due to Ministry of Health’s aggressive maternal healthcare awareness campaign. Consequently, the number of women delivering outside health facilities has reduced. Nevertheless, there is room for further improvement in this sector.
Therefore, NRM Government has responded to general healthcare needs as part of its leadership accountability to the people of Uganda.
a) Universal Primary Education (UPE)
NRM Government introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) in January 1997, abolishing tuition fees and parents teachers Association charges. For a decade now, the programme has given education opportunities to children from poor family background to access primary education. Consequently, literacy levels have increased across the country.
For instance, gross enrolment in primary school increased from 3.1million in 1996 to 7.6 million in 2003, an increase of 145%. In the same vain, since 2003 the number of UPE beneficiaries who sat their PLE has improved from 406,000 to 604,971 in 2014. The performance of primary seven candidates has been improving annually. For instance the performance of candidates in 2014 UPE results was better than that of 2003 with 88.1% of candidates who sat PLE passing. That is, 516,860 candidates passed their PLE.
In order to improve on the quality of UPE, President Museveni has emphasized that under Uganda’s Education Sector Investment plan, at least 65% of the education budget must fund primary education. The President has also put the programme under close supervision of Resident District Commissioners (RDC’s), District Education Officers (DEO’s) and local leaders for its success. In addition, monitoring and learning assessment programme is being implemented by the Directorate of Education standards to measure the progress of learners in the middle of the primary cycle.
The success of this important Government programme vividly reflects NRM’s better service delivery to the citizenry.
b) Universal Secondary Education (USE)
In 2007 Uganda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to introduce universal secondary education. NRM Government introduced the programme to absorb primary school leavers into secondary level. For instance, a total of 310,414 candidates who registered for UCE in 2014, 144567 (46.57%) were USE beneficiaries. 165,847(53.4%) were non USE. Therefore, USE programme has enabled many otherwise, disadvantaged children, who would not have managed to attain Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) to do so. In this regard, NRM Government has practically delivered on its promises.
· Roads infrastructure development
NRM’s better service delivery is also reflected in the nationwide development of roads infrastructure. The road network in Uganda being the country’s most dominant mode of transport, carrying over 90% of passenger and freight traffic and serving as a true backbone support of the economy, remains one of NRM Government’s top priorities. The Government, through Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), has embarked on a countrywide road network construction to enhance Government’s strategy of poverty reduction. On completion, the roads under construction will promote efficient, safe and effective transport services to the people both in rural and urban areas. With an all-weather road network, Uganda will not only experience increased agricultural production but also an industrial boom.
The following road projects under construction are a manifestation that NRM Government is reliable in delivering on its promises. These include: Gulu-Atiak road, Nakapiriprit-Moroto road, Vurra-Arua-Koboko-Oraba road, Atiak-Nimule road, Kafu-Kiryandongo road, Kamwenge-Fort Portal road, Mpigi-Kanoni road, Mbarara-Ntungamo road, Jinja-Kamuli-Mbulamuti road, Mukono-Jinja road, Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi road, Rwentobo-Kabale-Katuna road, Totoro-Mbale-Soroti road, Mbarara-Kikagati-Murongo road, Kampala(Busega)-Masaka road, Kampala-Entebbe Express Highway and Mbarara-Bypass. By undertaking all these pro-people road projects, NRM is lighting the candle for national development rather than cursing the darkness of poverty. More road construction projects have been announced by Government to be undertaken soon. Indeed this is part of NRM’S better service delivery in practice whose tangible results are geared at uplifting the living standards of citizens.
According to UBOS statistical data of 2009/10, 79 percent of Uganda’s working populations (between 14 and 64 years) were self-employed and 21 percent were paid employees. Agriculture sector alone employed over 66 percent of the working population.
The on-going Government’s Wealth Creation Programme is empowering and promoting farmers to embrace commercial farming for increased production, food security and household income.
The rationale of Commercial farming is to maximize the multiplier effect on returns. Hence, Wealth Creation Programme will help farmers overcome the economic hitches of subsistence farming. For the success of the programme, President Museveni has involved soldiers in the Operation Wealth Creation Programme to implement, supervise and provide timely, high quality and cost effective services to the masses. Hence NRM’s promise of better service delivery to the people is being realized on the ground.
NRM’s better service delivery in practice is also manifested in a vibrant communications sector. Since 2011, national telephone penetration has increased with over 4,006,463 new subscribers. Mobile Money wireless accounts have also increased in volume. The service is perceived as the most convenient means of local money transfer in Uganda. Mobile Money services have especially helped the rural population carry out financial transfers where fixed banking services are not available. Uganda’s communications boom has come as a result of the favorable environment put in place by the NRM’s good leadership.
· Vibrant Media
NRM leadership recognizes the important role played by the media in national development. As such, Uganda is one of the few African countries where the media is very vibrant with over 100 FM radio stations and over 10 TV stations operating countrywide. Equally important is the impact of print and social media. These media gateways are channels of information, entertainment and education to the public audience. Hence the public has the opportunity to know what is going on nationally and globally. The Vibrant media has also contributed to good governance, national development and democratization process in Uganda. This positive trend in Uganda’s media reflects Government’s political will to have an informed public.
Finally, NRM Government’s commitment to quality and excellence is a spring board for better service delivery to the people of Uganda. The tremendous achievements by NRM Government since 2011 can neither be exhausted here nor be denied by the opposition.
The writer is a researcher
What is NRM’s better service delivery in practice?