Thomas Odora knows the importance of community involvement in recovery and development. He is one of five young people trained in Patiko sub-county, part of the Gulu District of northern Uganda, to act as ‘youth monitors’.
With support from UKaid’s Governance and Transparency Fund, Conciliation Resources, has been working with the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) in northern Uganda to deliver training to local leaders and young people, like Thomas. The youth monitors are tasked with ensuring that the Ugandan Government’s Peace, Development and Recovery Plan is implemented effectively. The training provides vital information about the PDRP – aimed at developing war-ravaged northern Uganda – as well as giving those trained skills in how to monitor implementation of the plan.
Such training is key to empowering local communities with knowledge of the PDRP, ensuring accountability and the delivery of what has been promised to them.
The training organised by JPC helped us a lot. Before we didn’t know the issues concerning the PDRP. With the knowledge I acquired on the training, I was able to help the community understand the PDRP. The PDRP for example states that there should be construction of roads and schools, and the provision of health facilities. The communities weren’t aware that is part of the plan. We were trained on what communities can expect from the PDRP and we were taught how to monitor if it is being implemented in a particular area.
As a result of the training he received, Thomas and the community identified that Kulu Opal Primary School, which had potentially dangerous cracks through some of the buildings, had been constructed as part of the PDRP. Together, Thomas, JPC and the local council chairperson, took community concerns about the school to the Chief Administrative Officer, who is responsible for coordinating implementation of the PDRP.
The Chief Administrative Officer then contacted the contractor who built the school, who agreed to deal with the problem and ensure the building was safe for the 640 children who go to school there. Thomas describes how the training not only helps them serve their communities but also helps bring young people from different places together.
The training creates unity among young people. It helps us to know each other.
Aiding recovery in northern Uganda
The Ugandan army has been fighting the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, for the past 24 years. During this time, thousands in northern Uganda were forced from their homes into temporary camps. As the conflict has moved away into neighbouring countries, people from northern Uganda have begun to return to their villages. Two decades of conflict however, has left its mark on the region. There is a lack of access to clean water and adequate health services, and school structures have became dilapidated.
While PDRP seeks to address these challenges, local communities are largely unaware of the detail of the plan. By providing training to community representatives such as Thomas, local people are better informed about what communities can expect from the PDRP, how they can participate in implementation and how they can monitor progress.
Thomas and the four other young people trained in Patiko, between them represent the population of 15,000 across the three parishes of the sub-county. Last year JPC, with support from Conciliation Resources, trained over 150 youth monitors across five districts in northern Uganda: Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Agago and Amuru.
Following the training, JPC continues to visit Thomas and support him in his work to monitor the PDRP. Encouraging such participation from communities in the recovery of northern Uganda, is vital to ensure a more stable and secure Uganda in the future.