Lira City CDF President’s speech during the launch of the USMID program

By Morris Chris Ongom

The Chief Guest, Honourable State Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, The Hon. Kania Obiga,

Honourable Minister (s) present, The Members of Parliament of Lira City and Lango region, Your Worships the Mayors of Lira City and City divisions,

The Resident City Commissioner of Lira City and our esteemed security leaders present The PST from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development

The Lira City Town Clerk and the Chief Administrative Officer of Lira,

The Clergy and cultural leadership in your endowed positions of authorities, Lira City technical and political leaders in attendance,

The Lira City USMID Program Contractor and consultant

Our closest development allies; the private sector led by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and CSO leaders of our land

All protocols observed, distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by upholding the blessings of God Almighty over the people of Lango and us all for this journey we have made to date. The Hon Minister, I join the rest of our leaders and people to welcome you to Lango sub region where Sir Winston Churchill landed, saw the beauty and remarked Uganda as the Pearl of Africa.

Today 25th November 2021 is 1 year, 3 months and 2 weeks since Lira City was launched on 6th August 2020 as an industrial and commercial City. Like any ordinary citizen of Lango, we continue to extend our gratitude to the NRM government under the able leadership of His Excellency General Y.K Museveni for working with us the people of Lango and beyond to graduate Lira from a Municipality to a City status after 35 years.

The land on which Lira was born was granted by one clan of Lango called Lira for whom the people of Lango will always admire and appreciate for the vision that they had for the development of this region and nation.

Hon Minster and leaders of our people, the United Nations projects that the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. Consequently, the ratio of the world’s urban population is expected to increase from 55% in 2018 (approximately 4.2 billion people) to 68% by 2050, meaning that the world’s urban population will nearly double.


Hon Minister, Uganda is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate of 5.2 per cent per annum, putting a major strain on central and local governments to meet the developmental needs of the urban population. Uganda is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in Africa.

The total number of people residing in urban areas is expected to quadruple from about six million people at present to more than 20 million people by 2040. This is already causing various urban challenges for policymakers, implementers and citizens themselves and certainly, we must turn them to opportunities for prosperity.

As citizens and leaders, the City Development Forum supports and champions the Government of Uganda’s strategic vision to embrace and intentionally focus on Urbanization of Uganda. Urban growth may lead to a rise in the economic development of a country if well managed. Urbanization is an integral part of economic development of this country.

According to scholars, about seven factors continue to influence urban growth: physical conditions, public service accessibility, economic opportunities, land market, population growth, political situation, and plans and policies.

As urban development stakeholders, we join the GoU and Lira City to jointly tackle the key challenges of urbanization which include high rates of unemployment and underemployment, especially in urban areas, with the rate of creation of productive jobs being lower than the rate of growth of the urban population. The quality of our road and other infrastructure including housing remain major challenges with more than 60 percent of the residents of urban areas living in slums and informal settlements.

Finally, the delivery of social services of an adequate quality to a rapidly expanding urban population is also a source of concern and we have work to do together to address these issues.

As a result, over 75% of the labour force in urban areas is employed in the informal sector, characterized by low productivity and low wages. I want to thank the private sector players who have made Lira a City.

Globally, it has been proven that any government that seeks to address the socio-economic challenges of her citizens must create the enabling environment within which her citizens can create, innovate and drive their own development; let’s do it for Uganda, enable the private sector to drive our development within a favorable policy environment.

Hon Minister, the high rate of urbanization in Uganda calls for serious attention to effectively tackle the emerging challenges. The inadequate institutional capacity hampers effective integrated planning, development and management; inadequate cooperation, networking and collaboration amongst various actors in the urban sector foregoes the benefits of synergies, under-funding of the urban councils undermines the implementation of urban development plans and efficient delivery of services. I implore our leaders to lead our government like we do in the private sector.

This, therefore, calls for robust and innovative mechanisms that foster and enhance inclusive governance practices to empower the urban dwellers as key partners in the planning and management of the urban councils.

The establishment of the City Development Forum is, therefore, providing a platform for the participation and engagement of stakeholders in the affairs of the urban councils.

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under Democratic Principle 3, Articles 17 and 38 alludes to the fact that citizens in a given locality, either in groups or individuals, have a right to participate in the affairs of government. This, therefore, points to the fact that citizens have a constitutional right to direct their destiny in planning and decision-making i.e. not as passive recipients, but active and meaningful partners in development.

What is City Development Forums?

 CDFs are a platform established at the city levels by National Urban Policy of Uganda for all stakeholders in an urban sector like the urban poor, Local Government, Service providers, Private sectors and other stakeholders to meet regularly to exchange views, debate priorities and agree on common actions on matters pertaining to the urban sectors.

CDFs are intended to bring together individuals and representations, Governmental and non- governmental Institutions, Cultural, Religious Institutions as well as voluntary organizations and individuals to discuss matters pertaining to urban development at city levels.

The CDFs have major roles in enhancing broad based consultations on matters pertaining to urban sectors that will offer all the stakeholders an opportunity to contribute to the processes in the City councils centering on pro-people development processes.

The CDF’s vision is: Sustainable Urban Development through dialogue and participation with a mission: To empower the urban stakeholder to participate in influencing policy, legal and regulatory farm work in order to ensure effective management of urban growth and sustainable development.

Hon. Minister, we have welcomed Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) Program that is transforming the road network and boosting our economic infrastructure. I know you have all the details about USMID and my leaders will also say more about the same but what you need also to know is that urban development is complex but the good news is we have the capacity to diagnose, prescribe and treat the dilemmas in order for us to lead and drive our development in partnership with government and citizens.

In this City, we work together and I want you to know that there is a great team of political leaders headed by my brother, Ndugu His Worship Sam Atul as the Mayor and Technical team headed by a senior government official, Mzee Edward Kiwanuka Gwavu. We have a great leadership in the person of Ngudu Lawrence Egole whose swiftness in handling security and development matters is second to none.

We have a robust system of addressing our internal contradictions and as well as handling emerging project and community-based issues and grievances working in collaboration with leadership at all levels. This current contract which gives Lira City 3.6km road network is a bit turbulent and I want us to work together to ensure this contract is executed on time and all obligations delivered. The reward of excellence is more; we look forward to more for our City.

Once again, Lira City is a home to many both local and foreign and we continue to work together locally and globally and co-exist for now and posterity for the good of us and our children as we partner with God for the sustainable blessings of our land.

For God and My Country, Amen.

Mr. Ongom is the President Lira City Development Forum, and Founder and CEO, GLOFORD Uganda

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