Uganda currently has 116 districts
State minister for local government Jennifer Namuyangu on Wednesday said for every "new distinct" or "sub-county" that is created, they required additional funding to start them off, trying to justify a 38% budget increment the ministry is seeking.
But journalists attending the briefing at the Uganda Media Centre, where the new minister attempted the justification, were adamant to know what the increment is for exactly, in a government where more and more of public funds keeps getting swindled.
Bukedde Radio journalist Benon Nsubuga asked for the catalogue which needed to be spent on; others asked why government "keeps formulating" new districts and other administrative units when it was ‘broke'.
But the minister said formulation of new administrative units was primarily instituted to "trickle down" service delivery to the grass-root populations.
"That is the importance of local government. To move services closer to people," the minister said ahead of the Africa Day of Decentralization, which will be commemorated on August 10 at Masaka municipality.
"But whenever you create a new district or a new sub-county, you need finances to fully equip it," she said.
She said a number of new districts are understaffed by close to 50%. Schools don't have teachers; health facilities don't have midwives; and many roads (in the districts) are still ‘undone'.
Uganda currently has 116 districts. But plans to create more administrative units are underway. There is also a proposal to elevate 27 Town Councils to city status.
But less than sh2000 billion was allocated to the local government ministry in the 2016/2017 financial year.
August 10 was declared by the 20th session of the African Union as a day when all member states commemorate the Africa Day of Decentralization. The purpose is to provide a platform for AU member state governments to popularize decentralization and educate the public on the various decentralized governance programmes, within their respective countries.
The Uganda celebrations are expected to be graced by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, under the theme "Decentralization at 24; Re-Engineering Locally Initiated Development."
Masaka municipality Mayor Godfrey Kayemba said the celebrations will be preceded by a Street Carnival on Sunday, August 7 at the main Masaka Street. The carnival will be an opportunity for the local governments in Greater Masaka to sensitize the public on the services they provide while at the same time allow the private sector to market their products.
"Uganda today boasts a significantly mature decentralization policy that has evolved from an administrative structure to a conduit of social-economic development and wealth creation," he said.
"Local governments have successfully taken full charge of field activities of decentralized services in key social sectors such as health, education, water, transport and agriculture," he said.