With only a year remaining to the end, chairpersons from 62 districts of northern Uganda under Northern Uganda Social Action Fund project have asked the government to extend the project.
The chairpersons backed by the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) now want NUSAFIII to evolve into NUSAFIV to enhance social development in the benefiting communities.
“Let us recommend for NUSAF 4 because the first NUSAF was problematic but in the second and third we have seen tremendous progress which we need to maintain,” said Lawrence Ariga the chairperson Maracha District.
One by one each of the leaders that took to the floor applauded the proposal saying that poverty in areas where NUSAF 3 has been implemented has reduced and economic production has increased.
They said that since each NUSAF project focuses on a particular area of development such as infrastructure, production risk financing, NUSAF 4 should target improving value addition and marketing of products.
“NUSAF should not end; poverty is still real therefore the project should be maintained to consolidate the achievements made so far,” Johanan Omara the Kole RDC said.
NUSAF3 is a $130m five year project funded by the World Bank that started in 2016 to help the poor and vulnerable households in Northern Uganda to improve their incomes.
The five-year project is currently in its 3rd year of implementation after NUSAF1 and NUSAF2 that was first rolled out in 2003.
NUSAF is a World Bank-funded development project to boost the development of districts in the part of Northern Uganda and some parts in the East, West Nile and Karamoja sub-region that have particularly been hit by war, drought and cattle cattle-rustling to hamper growth.
The first, NUSAF worth $133m, started in 2003 and ended in March 2010 while the second phase, worth $100m, was approved May 2010 and implementation started on 25 November of the same year with each of the phases expected to last five years.
Presenting research findings on the progress of NUSAF 3, Prof. Musa Moya from Makerere University Business School (MUBS) informed stakeholders that 90.9% of the households involved in the project reported that they are at least earning an average income of Sh96, 000 a month which wasn’t the trend in the past.
Although the researchers didn’t provide empirical evidence of their findings to relate the decline of poverty to specifically NUSFA, they claimed that in their poverty categories, households described as poor at the start of the project had graduated to a form of better livelihood with an average income and assets such as radios, motorcycles and mattresses.
The findings also indicated that the number of people who accessed two meals per day had significantly increased as a result of increased food production especially in the drought-hit region of Karamoja.
In terms of savings, prof. Moya said savings among NUSAF beneficiaries had increased from 44.5% to 52%.
"We discovered that money saved at every level had increased with about two-thirds of households participating in NUSAF 3, boosting with some savings,” Moya said adding that the project has achieved its intended objectives.
According to the state minister for Northern Uganda Grace Kwiyucwiny revealed that of the $130m NUSAF 3, a total of $96m has already been dispersed, representing 74%.
The minister was impressed with the findings that most of the youth who received NUSAF’s money as a revolving fund, was able to pay back unlike other numerous youth projects.
“It is also good that poverty in Northern Uganda had decreased and accessibility to services such as health care and education has spiked up,” she said.
Responding to requests to extend the project, Kwiyucwiny said the Government is committed to funding poverty alleviation projects, therefore, the leaders should brainstorm on how to move forward at the end of NUSAF 3.
NUSAF Director in the Prime Minister Office Dr Robert Limlim noted that since 2003 when the project was started, a lot has been achieved despite the challenges.
Limlim noted that NUSAF3 has so far been a success due to a change in focus of the program from concentrating on the inputs to the impact.
“Rather than focusing on the inputs, we are now focusing more on the results. We are happy that we are seeing positive trends in terms of poverty reduction, increase crop production, savings and food consumption among the poor in the project area," he said.