Kapelebyong district has faced challenges in serving less than half of its targeted population seeking funds through the Parish Development Model (PDM) due to a lack of equipment for data entry at the parish and sub-county levels.
Despite receiving over six billion Shillings in the last financial year, the district has only managed to disburse 1.7 billion Shillings since the launch of the disbursement program earlier this year. The Acting Kapelebyong District Commercial Officer, James Collins Epiu, cited the absence of equipment like laptops as a hindrance to efficient data entry into the system.
Kapelebyong, with a total of 55 parishes and wards spread across eleven sub-counties and Town Councils, lacks even a single computer designated for Parish Chiefs or the Community Development Officers (CDOs) responsible for managing the PDM program.
Under the PDM management structure, Parish Chiefs collect household data and input it into the Parish Development Information System, which is then transmitted to the CDOs. The CDOs organize this data into groups based on different enterprises before submitting it to the District Commercial Officer for processing and eventual payment.
Epiu noted that apart from the equipment shortage, the district received an Information Technology Specialist in June 2023, several months after other districts had already received such assistance. During a recent gathering organized by the district leadership in Acowa Town Council, Opportunity Bank in Soroti Branch stepped in to donate five laptops to the sub-counties of Acinga, Acowa, Akoromit, Acowa, and Akore Town Councils. This donation aims to facilitate the work of Parish Chiefs and CDOs in processing PDM funds.
Yovan Watindi, the Senior Manager in charge of Retail Banking at Opportunity Bank, explained that this decision was made after recognizing the challenges faced in data collection and processing. He expressed the hope that these computers would expedite the district’s work.
Francis Akorikin, the Kapelebyong LCV Chairperson, emphasized their goal of disbursing all PDM funds to beneficiaries within the next two weeks. He acknowledged the constraints faced by district staff and the pressure from communities in need of the funds.
Stella Akoet, a resident of Akoet Ward in Acowa Town Council, shared her experience of expecting PDM cash for crop production but encountering delays. She expressed concern that this delay might force her to change her chosen enterprise, as she is registered in the groundnut enterprise.
However, Kapelebyong is not the only district facing challenges in delivering PDM funds to beneficiaries. In Serere, many Parish Chiefs and CDOs have to spend money at internet cafes to input PDM data into the system due to limited access to computers, poor internet connectivity, and a lack of power in villages.
James Ebwaku, the Serere District Commercial Officer, highlighted the gaps in PDM management and how they sometimes lead people to seek money from members, even though the guidelines do not permit it. He praised the dedication of some officers who use their own resources to support the program’s success.
Despite the government’s allocation of 250,000 Shillings to facilitate the Parish Development Committees in the PDM program each quarter, Kapelebyong has not received any funds for this financial year. Epiu noted that facilitation funds were only provided for three quarters in the last financial year.
By Edward Eninu