UNCDF Programme Officer in Uganda, Jenifer Bukokhe Wakhugu, delivered the opening statement to the 8th Joint Annual Review of Decentralization (JARD) on behalf of the Public Service and Decentralization Development Partners Group.
The JARD was initiated in 2004 after 10 years of implementing the decentralization policy. It is a performance review mechanism that brings together all stakeholders from Ministries, departments, agencies, local governments, development partners and private sector to jointly assess the progress made in implementing the decentralization policy.
UNCDF is Co-Chair of the Public Service and Decentralization Development Partner Group and delivered this statement on behalf of all development partners supporting public service and decentralization development. As a ‘main reference on the discourse of decentralization in Africa’, Uganda is still highly dependent on Central Government financial resources and the rapidly rising population puts pressure on service delivery. Jenifer urges Local Government stakeholders to ‘engage more with Parliamentarians and that the Honorable Members of Parliament consider the emerging issues affecting decentralization reforms in a rational manner for the broader goal of improving service delivery at the local level for our needy communities’. Moreover, the statement mentions the efforts to unblock additional finance for Local Economic Development (LED) from national capital markets – a strategy UNCDF is currently pursuing in Uganda.
It is out of the JARD that in 2006, major actions were taken to review the decentralization policy to include a sixth objective on Local Economic Development and also a 10 year local government sector investment plan was formulated. Hence, the expectations for this 8th JARD are high, as Jenifer emphasizes in the conclusion of her statement: ‘The Development Partners hope that this 8th JARD will build on the outcomes of the previous JARDs and provide the participants with enough time to effectively discuss the future of decentralization reforms in Uganda and come up with concrete actions that will increase the quantity and quality of public services at the local level’.