Survey findings show that 70% Village health teams are not trained

Only 30 percent of  Village Health Teams-VHTs members are trained to manage patients in communities.

This is according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health aimed at understanding how effective VHTs are at managing their communities. Uganda has 180,000 VHTs members but only 60,000 of these have acquired training.

Uganda adopted the VHT strategy in 2001 as a bridge in health service delivery between community and health facilities. But according to the survey, only a few were trained to effectively monitor and manage patients.

Their work includes community mobilisation for public health campaigns such as immunisation and family planning, nutrition and home visits.

Prof. Anthony Mbonye, the Director General Health Services, notes that the training gap has been caused by lack of funding. He notes that the development partners have trained some of the VHTs in districts where they operate.

Jova Kamateeka, the Woman Member of Parliament for Mitooma district, says it is unfortunate that VHT members are untrained. She notes that the government should borrow
money to train them.

Dr. Joachim Osur, the Amref Health Africa Director, says that governments have been reluctant to invest in VHTs. He notes that governments are trying several policies without really funding them.

But according to Prof. Mbonye, the health ministry has drafted a new policy that is aimed at reducing the number of VHTs and emphasising their training.



Bart Katureebe says he cannot interdict his deputy Kavuma

The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has downplayed calls to interdict his deputy Stephen Kavuma, who is accused of gross incompetence and misuse of judicial powers.

This’ after a whistle-blower from the Court of Appeal circuit, petitioned the Chief Justice to interdict Justice Kavuma in order to save the image of the court which he has allegedly tainted through radical decisions and superfluous injunctions he has issued over the years.

The petitioners assured the Chief Justice that they are willing to testify against Justice Kavuma, if called upon to show cause for his immediate interdiction.

However, in an interview with URN, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe says does not have authority over his deputy. He explains the petitioners are demanding for too much from him adding that interdicting his deputy does not fall within his jurisdiction.

He explains that the constitution rests the powers to suspend or interdict any judge over any mischief to the President upon advice by the Judicial Service Commission and Cabinet. The organs can only base the decision on findings by a commission of inquiry which has never been instituted in justice Kavuma’s case.

Ever since he came into the limelight the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma has not personally come out to respond to his critics and our latest attempts to reach him has yielded no results.




Kamuli by election slated for April 12th

Over twenty thousand voters are expected to vote in the up coming by Elections for Member of Parliament for Kamuli Municipality set for 12th April.
The by Election follows the order by the court of appeal calling for fresh Elections after Salam Musumba contested the election of her opponent Rehema Tiwuwe wetangula for using fake academic papers.
Electoral commission chairman Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon says the commission will conduct nominations in march with strict inspection of candidates academic qualifications on Thursday 23rd and 24 of March

Premier Rugunda announces government plan to send food supplies to schools across the country

Government plans to supply food to schools across the country due to a shortage triggered by a prolonged dry spell, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said.

Rugunda told parliament last evening that food will be provided through the District Education Committees in all the 116 districts. The committees will then determine the schools that need urgent relief noting that severe food shortages have impacted on school attendance.

Rugunda added that the matter will further be discussed at a Cabinet meeting today.

The commitment followed a passionate and heated debate on an action plan to mitigate the food insecurity situation in the country. This was part of a joint statement presented by Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja and State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru.

Ecweru said that the most food insecure regions include Teso, Karamoja, Bukedi, the Cattle Corridor, Busoga, Lango, Acholi and parts of central Uganda. He said that these areas had started receiving relief food from the Office of the Prime Minister.

He added that the food crisis situation had impacted severely on the attendance in schools especially in the rural government primary schools where children find it hard to go to school on empty stomach.

Ecweru told parliament that the current relief stocks stand at 30,000-100kgs bags of maize flour, 7000- 100kgs bags of beans and 119,660 50kgs bags of rice. He said the food items worth 22.2 billion Shillings were a donation from the government of China.

Ecweru told parliament that the Japanese government has pledged to support particularly the Karamoja Sub-region through the World Food Program towards feeding in schools.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja said that bean seeds are scarce due to the drought and that government can only provide 600,000 kilograms worth 2.4 billion Shillings.

Members of parliament demanded for adequate funding to the agriculture sector.




Education ministry to approve private and government school budgets

The Ministry of Education has directed both private and government schools to submit their school fees structures for the last three years not later than March, 10 2017. Schools will equally be expected to seek authorization before increasing charges.

The directive comes amid public outcry on the ‘unrealistic’ and ‘prohibitive’ school charges a trend which could deny Ugandan children access to education.

Last week, a Civil Society Organisation – the Initiative for Social and Economic rights (ISER), petitioned parliament challenging high tuition and non-tuition fees charged by government aided schools.

The CSO presented a breakdown of fees structures which they described as problematic citing non-tuition charges like development fees and entrance fees among others that need to be justified.

They presented a circular from St. Mary’ College Kisubi indicating special development fees of 500,000 Shillings required from each student prior to admission.

They also presented is an admission circular from St. Henry’s College Kitovu indicating payments like maintenance fees of to 391,600 Shillings, Centenary project fund of 120,000 Shillings, Pastoral care of 35,000 Shillings, and development fund 120,000 Shillings among others.

But Education Minister Janet Kataaha Museveni says that such exorbitant fees compromise government’s objective of providing affordable education for all.

She said that the fees are in most cases raised arbitrarily and without recourse to established official procedure which requires a head teacher who intends to raise school fees to seek and obtain official permission from the education ministry Permanent Secretary (PS).

She directed that no secondary school shall increase school charges for whatever reason without authorization from the Permanent Secretary Education Ministry.

Kataaha added that some secondary schools have been operating without approved budget estimates as required by the law.

She said that she has already instructed the education ministry PS Alex Kakooza to re-issue the existing guidelines that should be followed by all head teachers and secondary schools boards of governors and enforced by authorities at the central and local government levels.

Public Schools will be now required to submit their school fees structure to the commissioner in charge of government secondary schools while privately owned secondary schools shall submit to commissioner private schools and institutions.

UACE results out, female students perform better than the males

By Wasswa Deo
UNEB withholds results of 64 candidates that sat from 11 center over malpractice pending further investigation.  Indicating a significant drop from 279 Cases with held in 2017. 
  The examinations body has registered an improvement in the performance of students who sat for 2016 UACE as compared to 2015.
According to the results, a very high percentage of candidates 98.7% qualified for the award of the UACE certificate,  2016 performance. 39,797 candidates passed with 3 principal passes,27,831 with 2 principal passes,21,031 with principal passes,12,836 with one subsidiary 
Districts with highest students who passed with 3 principle passes are Wakiso 9299 at , Mukono 3374 , Kampala 6366 ,  and Mbarara 1000 . 1363 candidates  failed completely and a total of  102858 sat examination . 
In terms of percentages,female candidates performed better at A- level in all the large entry subjects accept general paper . Economics and sciences were generally poorly done,Biology was the worst done with only 40.8 % obtaining an E principal level pass .
District with fewer students with principal pass 3 are Buvuma 00, Nakapiripirit 00, Napaka 8 Zombo 9 Katakwi  .
The best performed subjects include, History, Islamic and religious education, Literature in English ,Art,  and geography while the worst done were  biology, sub math,physics

Dry spell causes water scarcity in Mbale, a jerrycan of water costs 2000shs

Prolonged dry spell has triggered off a water crisis has hit Mbale town with a 20-litre jerrycan going for 2000 shillings.

The only spring well adjacent to Police Barracks that used to serve the people from the bus park and taxi park has dried up.

URN saw people queuing to fetch water from as far as six kilometres outside the town.

Brian Taremwa, the Mbale Municipality Manager for the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), says they are able to pump only 1,000 litres per day yet the demand is 10,000 litres. Taremwa noted that  NWSC is currently rationing water supply to its clients in Mbale due to the prolonged drought.

NWSC has two treatment plants which draw water from Nabijjo, Manafwa and Nabuyonga rivers.

Taremwa explains that out of the three rivers it’s only from Manafwa that NWSC is drawing water 24 hours while  the other two rivers the water levels have gone down.

Taremwa  said the most affected areas in the Municipaity are Half London and taxi park and among others. He revealed that the water levels have drastically reduced due  to the prolonged drought and human activities upstream.

In some areas in Mbale people have stayed without water for as long as one month.

Peter  Lomaruk, a passenger travelling from Kampala to Moroto told URN  that he spent a night in one of the lodges in Mbale town without bathing. He said he was told that they had not had water for two weeks.

Ezekiel Wadada, a resident of Indian Quarters told URN that he had spent one month without water in his house.

Norah Kulume, a resident of Namatala says they are faced with a big challenge in getting water for domestic use and for selling Ajono, a local brew popular among the Iteso.

“Our customers have to wait until I get someone to fetch water. I use a boda boda from Namatala to Bugema to fetch water which is too costly,” lamented.

URN also saw most of the public toilets at the Bus Park, Taxi park and Mbale market closed due to lack of water.




Schools in Kampala not worried about escalating food prices and shortages

Schools in Kampala are downplaying fears of a possible food shortage arising out of a long dry spell that has driven food prices up in the recent past. A survey by Uganda Radio Network indicates that schools stocked enough food to feed pupils throughout the first term which started barely two weeks ago.

The assurance comes in the wake of a heavy burden to consumers resulting from the late and erratic rains and an early cessation of rainfall experienced last year. As several parts of the country battle abnormal dryness, gardens are all drying up with little prospects of rainfall, raising fears of a looming food shortage.

According to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin (FPMA) by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals have more than doubled in Uganda. Prices of beans, cassava and maize flour is about 25 per cent higher than a year ago.

A 50-kg bag of rice costs between 150,000 and 190,000 Shillings on the open market up from 120,000 Shillings around the same time last year. Maize flour costs 88,000 for each 50-kg bag while beans cost an average of 165,000 Shillings per bag. Sugar prices now average 178,000 for each 50-kg bag up from 160,000 Shillings.

Mario Zappacosta, a senior economist for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that sharply increasing prices are severely constraining food access for large numbers of households with alarming consequences in terms of food insecurity.

But despite the alarming trend, Peak Adventure, one of the companies that supply food to schools around Kampala says that school supplies many not be suddenly affected by change in market prices. Andrew Gidudu, a director at Peak Adventure says they have enough stocks to feed schools over the next three months.

Gidudu however anticipates that stocks could be depleted by May, 2017 which could trigger a change in prices then.

David Ssengendo, the head teacher of Buganda Road Primary School told URN that the school has not experienced the worst in the increase of food prices. He however says that there are indicators that prices will shoot up in the near future adding that in the event that prices increase, the school will be forced to ration food.

Pupils at Buganda Road Primary school contribute 21,900 Shillings each for school meals every term. However, according to the head teacher, the school runs a cash budget and can only stock food for a month.  Their menu comprises of posho, beans, rice, milk tea and porridge.

Edward Kanoonya, the head teacher of Kololo Secondary School believes that adjustments will be made to enable them provide enough food for students in the event that prices are hiked in the near future.

He says the adjustments could include omitting costly items from the menu. He highlighted rice; peas and meat which he says are served once in a while at the school.  Kololo SS consumes 350 Kgs of Posho and 150 Kgs of beans on a daily basis, according to Kanoonya.

But Lohana schools comprising of Lohana Academy, Lohana Primary and Lohana High School says that price changes will not in any way affect their menu and rations.

Catherine Nakayima, the in charge of procuring food for the three Lohana campuses told URN that the schools will be able to maintain their schools menus and portion due to supply agreements between the school and their suppliers.

On a weekly basis, the schools consume around 1000 Kgs of rice, 225 Kgs of beans, 100 pieces of fruit and 140 cabbages. According to Nakayima, their suppliers are mandated to supply them with food at the same price and quantity regardless of changes in price over a given period of time.



Makerere runs out graduation gowns forcing Wandegeya tailors to double prices

Makerere University has run out of customized graduation gowns ahead of the 67th graduation ceremony that starts tomorrow.

The customised graduation gowns were unveiled last month and were being sold at Basement Store of Makerere University Senate Building. The university had set the price at shillings 75,000 but tailors in Wandegeya, a city suburb, who counterfeited it had set their price at 65,000 to attract buyers.

However, today morning the university store ran out of gowns, prompting Wandegeya tailors to double the price to make a fortune out of the crisis. At stalls where the gowns are being sold, the prices range from between 120,000 and 150,000 shillings.

By 4:00pm, students were also stilling crowded at the Senate Basement Building store waiting for the university authorities to bring in new stock.

The university will graduate 14,895 students in various disciplines and varying academic ranging from diplomas to degrees, masters and PhD, in the four-day event. Of these, 3,275 will get their first degrees in various disciplines, 268 will walk home with diplomas, 1,277 students will be graduating with Masters Degrees while 75 students will be graduating with PhDs.

Tomorrow, the first graduation day, students from four colleges are set to graduate. These are; College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), and College of Education and External Studies (CEES).

“The university knew the number of students who are graduating and they had time to stock enough gowns; why didn’t they do that? They are causing this entire crisis,” Lukyamuzi David, a bachelor of education (Arts) student who will be graduating tomorrow said as he waited for new stock.

Keishe Agaba, a student population studies said; “I cannot buy a gown at 150,000 shillings. I will come without a gown, sit in the freedom square with others because no one will chase me.”

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the deputy vice chancellor in charge of finance and administration, said they expected the shortage because the contractor did not make enough gowns. He explained that the contractor was given a go ahead late and students had been informed that they could still buy gowns from outside as it has been the practice in previous years.

Prof Nawangwe said the contractor made about 7,000 gowns which is less than half of the number of students graduating.

“This is the first time that the university is making customised gowns. Next year he will start earlier to ensure that enough gowns are made. We want students to buy from one person because we want to control the quality of gowns,” Prof Nawangwe said.

The Makerere University Council, the university’s highest decision-making body approved the introduction of customised graduation gowns for Undergraduate and Graduate programmes (excluding PhDs) with effect from the 67th Graduation Ceremony.

The customised University Gown is intended to provide uniformity of the academic dress for graduands.




Engineering body embarks on factory inspection campaign

By Wasswa Deo

The Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers has embarked on a campaign that will involve inspection of government construction projects and factories manufacturing construction materials across the country.

The institute’s Vice President Eng. Vincent Ochwo says the move is aimed at ensuring that projects being carried out match to the stipulated standards.

He made the remarks during the institute visit to new company cement, Kampala cement based in Mukono to observe the production processes and others operations of this cement plant.

Kampala cement has been in existence for the last two years and currently has 15% market share, hence producing 1.2 million tons per annum.

According to Anic Sankaran, the corporate manager, they expect to grow further up to 30% marketing share, which will see the company increasing its production capacity.

He however noted that, Uganda being land locked country and with no suitable railway systems in place, transporting raw materials by road is quite challenging.Most of the raw materials are imported from Kenya.