Action Aid International Uganda Programs Director, Henry Nixon Ogwal has called on the Central Government to consider decentralizing funding for the response to COVID-19 pandemic as a way of empowering local governments to offer better services directly to the people.
Ogwal made the call during an online discussion organized by Action Aid that brought together Local Government leaders, Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA), Civil Society Organisations and the media on issues affecting Local Government Service Delivery during the COVID-19 Pandemic and how to counter them.
In his opening remarks, Ogwal said there are a lot of funds sitting within the Central Government which would be best put to use if they trickled down to the Local governments that have direct access to the people that are severely affected by the COVID-19.
Ogwal said that ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, there are a number of other essential services that have since been affected yet it is the work of the Local Governments to effect those services.
“It’s at this moment that districts need to be given more funding to handle both Covid and other essential services that should improve the lives of people even after the pandemic. The pandemic has proved that the districts have been so poor in terms of infrastructural development such as hospitals,” Ogwal said.
Ogwal expressed worry that in case COVID-19 deteriorates to Level 4 and the health services within local governments are not improved, the country might register a worst case scenario.
He tasked the Local government leaders to identify people that have been greatly affected by the pandemic such as those who have since lost their jobs, business, livelihood with the aim of lobbying for funds to ensure that these are supported to regain their livelihood.
“The money that was budgeted for Workshops and International Travels even by State House should all be channeled to Local Government to support people. There is no need for money to remain at Central government yet the districts are in need of the funds,” Ogwal said.
Ogwal appealed to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to rise and be ready to take on the oversight role on Local Governments since it is proved that corruption tends to be high during times of insurgencies.