Report: Poor People Being Discriminated in PDM

A recent report has highlighted the discriminatory implementation of the government’s Parish Development Model (PDM) project, which aims to eradicate poverty.

The report reveals that the poorest individuals are being left behind in accessing the benefits of the initiative.

The PDM was launched by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in February 2022 as a means to uplift those in subsistence economies and enable them to join the money economy at the Parish level. The Ministry of Finance has released over 264 billion Shillings for PDM activities, with 8,931 parishes receiving funds and implementing the program.

However, a pilot baseline report conducted by the non-profit organization Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) in Kaliro and Mukono Districts has revealed that the minimum requirements for qualifying as a beneficiary of PDM funds were unaffordable for the poorest women. For example, one acre of land was required to qualify for a Dairy Enterprise Group, while other SACCOs demanded the establishment of structures for poultry, goats, or fish ponds.

CEFROHT’s Executive Director, David Kabanda, noted that the criteria for SACCO loans were based on capacity to repay, which relied on asset bases. This disproportionately affected women who lacked a strong asset base, leading to discrimination based on their low economic status and obstructing their registration with any of the enterprise groups.

The report also identified other reasons for non-registration, including administrative or procedural issues such as the absence of a national identification card, non-participation in preliminary PDM activities, and not belonging to government priority enterprises. Furthermore, the report highlighted the confusion caused by the PDM Secretariat’s frequent amendment of implementation guidelines, leading to complaints and wrong choices of enterprise groups among women.

The selection criteria used by the committees under the SACCOs were found to abuse the overall repayment period, as the assessment was based on the ability to pay, which favored individuals with higher economic status. During the launch of the report, a woman from Mukono District, Robinah Kayaga Nalukenge, shared her experience, expressing difficulties in understanding government guidelines written in English, which she and other ordinary women couldn’t comprehend.

She emphasized that the funds received were insufficient for her needs, considering the various investments she had to make, including employing others.

The report also noted that women relied on local leaders as their primary source of information, often communicated verbally through physical interactions. This reliance placed a burden on local leaders, potentially leaving out those who were not on friendly terms with them.

Fred Mbalumya, the Kaliro District PDM focal person, supported the report’s findings, acknowledging that the frequent changes in guidelines caused disturbances in their implementation. Unfortunately, mismanagement of PDM funds has already been observed in Kitgum District, where five officials are facing trial in the Anti-Corruption Court for diverting over 500 million Shillings intended for the project.

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