New roads connects local communities in Uganda to social servicesCommunity access roads opened and rehabilitated by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in northern Uganda are helping connect rural communities to markets, trading centres, schools and health facilities.
Access roads in rural settings in Uganda are important for local economies as they connect subsistence farmers to markets.
‘‘The roads that DRC has made is helping to link our communities to markets,’’ said Geoffrey Ocana, a Lamwo government official in-charge of Paloga sub county, one of the areas benefitting from the access roads.
‘‘Farmers are now able to deliver their goods to buyers. In the past these roads were impassable. Right now there is no community in Palago that can say it is not connected by a road to services. Children use the roads to go to school,’’ said Ocana.
Along the Oboko- Kaliro road, locals could be seen riding bicycles and motorcycles on one of the roads opened by DRC —either carrying passengers or agricultural goods.
Michael Komakech, 24, was taking his sugarcane to the market.
‘‘We have many gardens along this road. It used to be hard to use this road. During the rainy season it would be covered by grass. Now it is possible to use it both during the rainy and dry season,’’ noted Komakech.
South of Lamwo is Agago district, also in northern Uganda. DRC opened 135 kms of roads in the last two years in the district. One of the roads connects Omot and Kotomor sub counties.
‘‘In 2014 an expectant mother died because an ambulance could not pass on this road to take her to Kalongo hospital,’’ said Jacob Oling, the Chairman of Kotomo sub county as he, his fellow leaders and DRC staff toured one of the opened roads.
‘‘I am happy now because I can call an ambulance to pick up an expectant mother to take her to hospital,’’ said Oling after a tour of the works on the road.
The 307 kms of roads were constructed under a work- for-cash arrangement with locals, particularly the youth.
Martin Malinga, DRC’s Program Manager for the Kitgum office in northern Uganda says of the benefits of the cash-for- work arrangement: ‘‘The money communities received from cash for work activities on the access roads enabled them to meet their immediate needs for food, school fees and also purchase assets. In the long run communities will be able to improve their household incomes and food security due to improved access to markets.’’
Benedictor Ogwang, 26, a community member from Apado village in Agago district where DRC constructed an 8km road that had for long been in a bad shape said he used the money earned from working on the road to buy two goats. ‘‘My plan is to multiply my goats and buy a cow.’’
The roads—a total of 307 km – was made by DRC with support from DANIDA in the northern Uganda districts of Lamwo and Agago. The road works took place between 2016 and 2017.
The roads built by DRC where made under the ‘‘Restoration of Agricultural Livelihoods in Northern Uganda,’’ a programme funded by Danida. DRC implemented the rural infrastructure component of the programme
Northern Uganda is recovering from a two-decade long conflict which at its peak displaced close to 2 million people into camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). During displacement, freedom of movement was restricted leaving rural roads and other infrastructure to ruin.
The conflict in the region ended in 2006 and by 2007, the internally displaced began leaving the IDP camps to return to their homes and villages.
While the conflict ended more than a decade ago, its effects on livelihoods and infrastructure are still being addressed.