EXCLUSIVE: After the successful implementation of the first phase of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) Program at a US$ 150 million loan, Government received additional financing to the tune of US$ 360 million from the World Bank/IDA to implement the second phase of the Program (USMID Additional Financing-USMID-AF) for 5 years which started in fiscal year 2018/19.
The project has changed the face of Uganda cities and municipalities and has improved the day to day business in all corners of the country
The first phase of the USMID project was designed to enhance institutional performance of 14 municipal councils so as to improve urban service delivery. These were Arua, Lira, Gulu, Soroti, Entebbe, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Masaka, Hoima, Fort Portal, Mbarara, Kabale and Moroto. By that time, some of these municipalities had not attained the city status. 78.4km on 110 urban roads were constructed and 93.2km of drainage lines.
The second phase of the Program extended to Eight additional municipal local governments of Kitgum, Kamuli, Mubende, Kasese, Busia, Ntungamo, Apac and Lugazi making a total of 22 and also introduced support to 8 districts of Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Arua, Isingiro, Kiryandongo, Kamwenge and Lamwo, that have faced a high influx of refugees to strengthen these Local Governments’ abilities to cope with the recent and future refugee influx in Uganda and to deliver critical infrastructure to host communities/local governments.
The program ending December 2023 is executed and coordinated by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. The institutional strengthening at the municipal Local Governments level and cities was targeting technical, fiduciary (financial and procurement), Local Economic Development and environmental and social sustainability with a focus on seven thematic areas, including Improved linkage between Municipal Physical Development Plan, Five-year Development Plan and Budgeting, Increased municipal own source revenue (OSR), Improved procurement performance, Improved municipal Accounting and core financial management, Improved Execution/Implementation of infrastructure sub-projects for improved urban service delivery, Improved accountability and transparency (monitoring and communication) and Enhanced environmental and social sustainability (Environmental, social and resettlement due diligence).
During a series of media training workshops for the 10 USMID implementing cities of Arua, Gulu, Fort portal, Mbarara, Jinja, Soroti, Lira, Mbale, Hoima, and Masaka undertaken by M/s Spectrumedia Ltd to improve the reporting attitude of local media personnel towards a more development-oriented and positive approach, Journalists revealed that the main objectives of the program have been achieved.
In Masaka city, Journalists highlighted USMID achievements towards the changing face of Masaka, a city located in South Buganda including attracting investment, improving hygiene since the city central business center no longer has dust and expanding the city.
Journalists also highlighted that revenue collections have doubled through collection of street parking fees, security street lights have helped to curb crime and enhancing the night economy, community participation in government projects has been enhanced through the establishment of the City/Municipal Development forums, promoting relative peace since residents no longer riot because of the poor state of roads among other factors.
Charles Odongtho, an independent minded Journalist and Lawyer who was the chief facilitator of the media trainings said, despite the fact that the USMID project has changed the face of Uganda cities and municipalities, it has also been affected by some challenges including low capacity of some contractors and relocating of utilities such as electricity, water, sewerage, telecom lines, and security installations leading to delays and taking 5% of the project funds to the mentioned service providers.