1. Who am I?
I am self-motivated, hardworking, and committed. I climbed the health sector career ladder because of my hard work, transparency and honesty. These qualities made it easy to quickly adapt to the rigors of politics and policy planning and development in 2016.
2. Why am I standing?
- Lira City needs transformation and an able and dedicated leader who can galvanize the people to this effect. And for me, it’s a conviction that the time is now. For a long time, the city has missed out on tangible development because of selfish leaders who see only today, themselves and forget about tomorrow and the future of our children.
- Lira city is my home. The people are my people. And the City is the place God has placed on my heart to be a servant, because together we can cause transformation that will impact the lives of the men, women and youth across this region.
- I have had the privilege to work with the Government for over 30 years, 15 of which have been at the top most positions in the health sector, as a Hospital Director, Lira Regional Referral Hospital, as Director General Health services, and as Minister for Health, a position I hold to date. I have been at the helm of decision making in government and carry that experience with me.
- I have collaborated at a very high level with partners nationally and internationally. I have wide exposure and working connections across the globe.
- I have a vision to work with the people that natured and helped me to be who I am. I wish to use my knowledge, skills and partnerships built over the years to develop Lira City.
- Lira City, launched on the 6th August 2020, is a young city. It needs an objective, open minded, tried and tested leader, that can galvanize people of all caliber towards a common cause for the growth and development of this Industrial and Commercial city.
- Our vision captures the areas of; health, education, industrialization, business, wealth creation, security, culture and tourism, cleanliness and beautification of the city, low cost Housing
3. What are the needs of Lira City?
Empowerment: As a woman I want to stand with my fellow women to see how best we can solve the plight of women in homes and other formal places of work such as markets, gardens, etc. for purposes of Wealth Creation
Lango Renaissance: As a child of Lango, coming from a region that has suffered many adversities, I want to advocate for the plight of the marginalized and all the disadvantaged groups such as the girl child, people with disabilities, youth and women, etc. I will uphold values, and cultural norms that promote unity and the strength of family. I will work with all religious leaders, clan elders and opinion leaders to support efforts that help the youth to cope with challenges presented by the modernity, and families to adopt ways that bring wealth to the family.
Industrialization and Commercialization: There is need to support the growth of Lira City as a center of Business by working closely with the private sector and partners to promote and ease business.
4. Issues in Lira City that need Redress
Many people in Lira City prefer to visit private and private not for profit healthcare facilities to access medical care, but often without enough money to pay the medical bills and are pushed deeper into poverty as they take desperate measures to pay their medical bills. It is also true that many of the diseases that we suffer in Lira City are preventable and can be addressed at a minimum cost. Prevention measures can be successfully implemented if the City authorities can collaborate with public health authorities and the local communities.
- Urban health challenges: vector-borne diseases, rising incidence of non-communicable diseases, air pollution and acute respiratory infections, road traffic accidents, trauma, alcohol and drug abuse. Lira City has the highest number of Multi drug resistant TB cases after Mulago Hospital
- Lira City and the entire Lango sub- region require a specialized Hospital to provide super specialized services to the over 3 million people in the catchment. Being a commercial, industrial and transportation hub, more people will also be attracted to the city from all parts of Lango and beyond. Super specialized health care services available in Lira City.
- Health care is expensive and seeking it leads individuals and households deeper into poverty.
Proposed solutions for Lira Health Sector
- Lobby for the elevation of Lira Regional Referral Hospital to a National Referral Hospital and expand it to include a regional cancer and regional heart institute.
- Lobby for expansion and equipping of LLRH laboratory to widen its diagnostic capacity.
- Lobby for the transformation of the current blood collection unit into a regional Blood bank
- Follow up and ensure the establishment of Emergency (Ambulance) services for the region.
- Support the establishment of a well facilitated and knowledgeable City health authority addressing all urban health care needs.
- Engage the private health sector in the development of innovative funding schemes that offer more affordable health care to all in Lira City.
- Promote the strengthening of private health providers associations in Lira City and enhance collaboration with the Lira City Health authorities.
- Promote collaboration between Lira City Authorities, the business community and corporates, and local communities to adopt measures that promote a healthy, environmentally conscious city.
- As a member of Parliament for Lira City, lobby for more appropriate quotas of nurses, midwives, lab technicians and technologists, doctors and other health-care professionals to serve the expanding population.
6. Marginalized Urban Communities
Women, Youth, disabled persons, widows, orphans and the girl child in Lira city remain marginalized and unprotected from poverty and abuse. Women continue to suffer from Gender Based Violence, limited access to education and financial resources. There is limited awareness and respect for women and children’s rights. The urban setting easily drives these vulnerable groups into prostitution, alcohol and drug use and crime. “Otino corridor” are an existing marginalized community of street children that Lira City has to address. A lack of prioritization of the needs of these communities can quickly affect, not only their lives, but the quality of life of all residents and visitors to the city.
Proposed Solutions for the Urban Community
- Awareness creation among Lira City policy makers, corporates and business communities and other stakeholders about the rights of the marginalized populations to decent housing, food and health care. These rights will be better recognized by invoking our respect for God, and the unique Lango love for family, kin and clan.
- Work with all Lira City leadership, civil society, religious leaders, clan elders and opinion leaders and already existing initiatives to access for women, youth and disabled local groups employment and skill development programmes.
- Support women, youth and disabled local groups by supporting their SACCOs and supporting access to low interest loans for income generation.
- Promote initiatives that enhance a saving culture among individuals and families in Lira City, coupling this with support towards behavioral change from alcohol and drug abuse.
7. Need for a Well-Supported, Thriving Informal Sector
Boda-boda’s, taxi owners, saloon operators, produce dealers, fishmongers, market vendors, timber dealers, among others, work and live in Lira City. They have needs that remain unaddressed and have negatively influenced achieving their fullest potential. As an example, while fish dealers require better refrigeration equipment, produce dealers require reliable storage free of pests and aflatoxins. Saloon operators and boda boda riders need financial loans. Grocery owners, market vendors, timber dealers, and hawkers need a conducive, safe trading environment free from harassment by the city authorities. All these groups represent an important source of wealth for the City and are an economic engine for growth and development in this setting.
- Elaborate promotion of financial literacy among the business community with a view to growing local entrepreneurship.
- Promotion of healthy relationships, productive relationships between traders and the city authority, dignity for all.
- Promoting a sense of ownership or the development of the city among the traders; its health, its prosperity, cleanliness and orderliness.
- Support the development of collective bargaining among the different groups of traders to improve access to financial services, to tap into development initiatives, and attract investors
- Development of infrastructure and mechanisms that improve and ease the delivery of services
8. An Organized, Safe and Healthy City
Lira City has experienced planners that catered for its needs when still a municipality. The new city status will require a review of Lira’s past urban planning, requiring close collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Planning as well as the Ministry of Local Government. Industrialization and commercialization will attract a large number of people into the City seeking employment. A number of social services as enumerated below needs revamping. I propose a number of solutions below.
- I will work closely with the City Planning Authority to improve housing for all categories of city residents including the urban poor, the unemployed, the homeless, etc. I will lobby the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Lira City Authorities to attract investors who can build low cost rentals for the urban poor particularly for those in the informal sector.
- In an upcoming urban setting like Lira City, security of tenure is an important requirement to protect the land rights of vulnerable urban dwellers. Sustainable urban development will be premised on ensuring that existing land tenure systems are recognized and considered during planning and development. I will work with the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, and use my influence to engage organizations like UN Habitat, Slum Dwellers International to urgently address the protection and sustainable use of people’s land in Lira City.
9. Access to Clean Water
- The city requires clean water sources. The level of output by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation and the storage capacity of the city reservoirs require upgrading to ensure that clean water is available for all at all times.
- I will work closely with National Water and Sewerage Corporation and lobby for the fast tracking of the system upgrade in Lira City.
10. Sanitation and waste management
- I propose to work closely with the city authorities to ensure that sanitation and public health is maintained at the highest possible level. Refuse collection facilities such as trucks, waste troughs, incinerators are procured and used effectively. Community health education will also be strengthened, and proper enforcement maintained.
- I will lobby for the introduction of industries that can utilize refuse and transform it into manure and gas to reduce environmental destruction through the burning of firewood for charcoal
- Street lighting, electronic surveillance systems (CCTV cameras), improved neighborhood policy will be my top priority. No one can be economically productive without security
- 14. Beautification of the City
- It will take the whole community of Lira City to make it beautiful and pleasurable to live in, and visit. I will work alongside Lira City’s planners and communities, using my experience and exposure to beautification projects elsewhere to brighten up the face of Lira City by planting and preserving grass, flowers and trees, and by encouraging and incentivizing property owners to paint and renovate their buildings.
- Placemaking is another innovation that can bring the community together to identify a place or places of historical, cultural or spiritual significance. Such spaces become a tourist attraction and a place for commerce. The concept can pick up from a number of initiatives that have since stalled. I will work with the district authorities, cultural foundation and religious institutions to identify such sites.
12. Industry, Trade and Tourism
We are an agrarian economy and our industrialization efforts are closely tied to agriculture. We . will support farmers to produce large quantities of raw materials that can supply cottage and medium scale industries. Large scale production for bigger international markets will be encouraged for the big landowners to increase foreign exchange earnings.
We need to fast track the industrialization of Lira City as a prerequisite for holistic development. My responsibility will be to support businessmen, industrialists, and manufacturers to develop the production capacity of their factories for greater output at less input costs.
Together with the Lira Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade and Industry we can fast track the industrialization of Lira by doing the following:
- Negotiating economic stimuli for industries and factories. Such can include tax incentives and favorable investment policies.
- Encouraging co-investments and co-partnership between Lira businessmen and international investors.
- Improving the scope and quality of trade fairs in Lira; staging world class trade shows, demonstrations, exhibitions in Lira by inviting international manufacturers and entrepreneurs to showcase their entrepreneurial skills in Lira.
- Introducing e-commerce, electronic transactions so that businessmen and consumers are protected from the risks and hazards associated with cash transactions.
- Creation of employment opportunities – Establishment of a big factory in Lira, comparable to the Sugar factory in Amuru and the fruit factories in Soroti and Yumbe.
- The people of Lango are hardworking people who deserve a big factory that employs 5000 people and beyond, in addition to the cottage industries that currently exist. Right now, industrial sugar is in high demand globally and the number one raw material for it is cassava.
- The people of Lira produce a lot of cassava, but unfortunately only for consumption and brewing of lira-lira. This cannot fetch us the much money we need to send our children to universities or make good investments. Lango can strategize on industrial sugar production because it has comparative advantage over other regions. We can mobilize farmers to produce cassava in very large qualities to provide raw material for the starch factory. In any case, this factory used to exist in Lira City in a village currently known as Starch Factory near Cuk Olok market. Sanitizers can also be made out of cassava.
- Support to cooperative societies: A number of farmers and produce sellers have formed cooperative societies. These societies need to be supported to grow, through grants, transport facilities, record keeping, value addition, traceability and readily available markets. I will work closely with Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry and Ministry of Trade to lobby for support to these cooperatives.
- Lobby the Ministry of Works and transport to consider the introduction of face technology in Lira City to reduce the costs incurred and time lost in seeking for such services
13. Tourism and Hotel Industry
- Tourism and Hotel Industry: Lira is a transit route for many important tourism destinations in Northern Uganda. Many attempts have been made by private entrepreneurs to develop the tourism industry in Lira. These commendable efforts provide opportunity for me to use my connections working with Ministry of Tourism to attract both international and national organizations keen on building the tourism industry to partner with the City, and with local entrepreneurs to make Lira a tourist haven, and an opportunity for more jobs for men and women from the sub region
Lira in the past had a concentration of prominent secondary schools, including Dr Obote College, Boroboro, Comboni College, Lango College, and Town College. The town also boasted important tertiary institutions of learning including Lira Technical College, and Canon Lawrence and Ngetta PTC’s. These schools are no longer ranked among Uganda’s prominent schools. There are a number of private primary schools, whose pupils have performed well. The public schools due to lack of primary. There are very few schools in the city that can offer a high standard of quality teaching. Their capacity to admit students is also limited. Many parents therefore prefer to send their children to Kampala city to more attractive schools. This drains financial resources from the city that would otherwise have been used to further develop the city. In addition, the teachers are poorly remunerated hence not well motivated to teach to the required standards. Private school teachers are further disadvantaged by unregulated remuneration.
- Lobby and follow up Government to conclude on its pledge of a secondary school in every sub county and a primary school in every village
- Work with Partners and the private sector to support scholarships and bursaries for the bright but disadvantaged pupils and students
- Support Exchange programs with other Universities nationally and internationally
- Encourage Girl child Education by working with the private sector to produce reusable sanitary pads.
- Lobby Ministry of Education to improve learning infrastructure like computers and laboratories in for science students.
- Work the City Education Authorities to focus on development of other talents outside the classroom like sports, music etc
- Lobby Government to provide soft loans for teachers, more so the private school teachers so they can have other income generating activities to support their families.
- Develop programs to reward best performing students annually to encourage others to perform better too.
- Lobby for special Needs schools for persons with disability.
- Support the establishment of Open and Distance Learning infrastructures (ODEL), now being advocated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.
• Lobby Ministry of Education to gradually improve the state and standard of our schools to compete with Kampala schools
15. Lira University
- Lira University will be supported to develop into a University that can compete favorably with universities in other parts of the world.
- I will lobby for the expansion and equipping of the College of Health Sciences. The University Teaching Hospital currently has a capacity of only about 200 beds. This could be expanded to 500 beds to accommodate the introduction of other specialties for a more comprehensive and robust training of medical students
- The niche for Lira University’s Faculty of Health Sciences is research and training. As a Member of Parliament, I will work together with University authority to build this capacity by procuring more training facilities and equipment.
- We shall encourage more visiting researchers and fellows from other universities to form collaborations with Lira University staff to enable the University to grow faster. As a Minister and Member of Parliament I will support all efforts locally, nationally, and internationally that support Lira University.
- I will work closely with the Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor and the deans of the various faculties to make sure the standard of the university is uplifted. We will encourage more student enrolment in the university. I will liaise with the Ministry of Education and the National Council for Higher Education to make sure that more programs are opened to give more access and opportunity for admission to more students from Lango subregion
16. Private Schools
Government needs to revisit the state of private schools in the country. Private schools have been worst hit by Covid-19. Almost all teachers of private schools are not being paid currently. Government needs to provide economic stimulus to private schools and find innovative ways to ease taxes paid by private schools.
I seek to go beyond my current ex-officio status to a Member of Parliament with a voice of the people and to speak for the people. I believe that with my experience, exposure and working together with the population of Lira City and government, we can ably transform our city into the city that we all desire.
A new city needs a new leader with new skills. I am that leader who has been tried, tested and found able.
God bless you allDr Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero
For Woman MP, Lira City