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Inside Dr Jane Ruth Aceng’s solutions-based manifesto for Lira City people

(Last Updated On: 13 August 2023)

Lira I While campaigning to represent the Women and people of Lira City in the 11th Parliament, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng laid down her manifesto – promising to transform one of the country’s newest cities.

“As a woman, I want to stand with my fellow women to see how best we can solve the plight of women in homes and other formal places of work such as markets, and gardens, for purposes of Wealth Creation,” she said.

At that time, Dr Aceng, also the current Minister of Health, said Lira City “needs transformation and an able and dedicated leader” who can galvanize the people to this effect.

“And for me, it’s a conviction that the time is now. For a long time, the city has missed out on tangible development because of selfish leaders who see only today, themselves and forget about tomorrow and the future of our children.”

“Lira City is my home. The people are my people. And the city is the place God has placed on my heart to be a servant because together we can cause transformation that will impact the lives of the men, women and youth across this region.”

Dr Aceng is enthused she will smoothly retain her seat come 2026 and believes that Lira City will have developed by the time the country goes to the next poll.

Ahead of 2026, TND News revisits her promises to the people of Lira and read them below – verbatim.

Empowerment: As a woman I want to stand with my fellow women to see how best we can solve the plight of women in homes and other formal places of work such as markets, gardens, etc. for purposes of Wealth Creation

Lango Renaissance: As a child of Lango, coming from a region that has suffered many adversities, I want to advocate for the plight of the marginalized and all the disadvantaged groups such as the girl child, people with disabilities, youth and women, etc.

I will uphold values, and cultural norms that promote unity and the strength of family. I will work with all religious leaders, clan elders and opinion leaders to support efforts that help the youth to cope with challenges presented by modernity, and families to adopt ways that bring wealth to the family.

Industrialization and Commercialization: There is a need to support the growth of Lira City as a centre of Business by working closely with the private sector and partners to promote and ease business.

Issues in Lira City that need redress

Health: Many people in Lira City prefer to visit private and private not-for-profit healthcare facilities to access medical care, but often without enough money to pay the medical bills and are pushed deeper into poverty as they take desperate measures to pay their medical bills.

It is also true that many of the diseases that we suffer in Lira City are preventable and can be addressed at a minimum cost. Prevention measures can be successfully implemented if the City authorities can collaborate with public health authorities and the local communities.

Urban health challenges:
vector-borne diseases, rising incidence of non-communicable diseases, air pollution and acute respiratory infections, road traffic accidents, trauma, alcohol and drug abuse. Lira City has the highest number of Multidrug-resistant TB cases after Mulago Hospital

Lira City and the entire Lango sub-region require a specialized Hospital to provide super-specialized services to the over 3 million people in the catchment. Being a commercial, industrial and transportation hub, more people will also be attracted to the city from all parts of Lango and beyond. Super-specialized healthcare services are available in Lira City.

Also read: Amongi’s planned move to Lira City in 2026 ‘does not scare me’ – Dr Jane Aceng

Health care is expensive and seeking it leads individuals and households deeper into poverty.

Proposed solutions for Lira health sector

  • Lobby for the elevation of Lira Regional Referral Hospital to a National Referral Hospital and expand it to include regional cancer and regional heart institute.
  • Lobby for expansion and equipping of Lira Regional Referral Hospital laboratory to widen its diagnostic capacity.
  • Lobby for the transformation of the current blood collection unit into a regional Blood bank
  • Follow up and ensure the establishment of Emergency (Ambulance) services for the region.
  • Support the establishment of a well-facilitated and knowledgeable City health authority addressing all urban health care needs.
  • Engage the private health sector in the development of innovative funding schemes that offer more affordable health care to all in Lira City.
  • Promote the strengthening of private health provider associations in Lira City and enhance collaboration with the Lira City Health authorities.
  • Promote collaboration between Lira City Authorities, the business community and corporates, and local communities to adopt measures that promote a healthy, environmentally conscious city.
  • As a member of Parliament for Lira City, lobby for more appropriate quotas of nurses, midwives, lab technicians and technologists, doctors and other healthcare professionals to serve the expanding population.

Marginalized urban communities
Women, youth, disabled persons, widows, orphans and the girl child in Lira City remain marginalized and unprotected from poverty and abuse. Women continue to suffer from Gender-Based Violence, limited access to education and financial resources. There is limited awareness and respect for women’s and children’s rights.

Also read: Agroecology, a remedy to mycotoxins in Northern Uganda

The urban setting easily drives these vulnerable groups into prostitution, alcohol and drug use and crime. “Otino corridor” is an existing marginalized community of street children that Lira City has to address. A lack of prioritization of the needs of these communities can quickly affect not only their lives, but the quality of life of all residents and visitors to the city.

Proposed solutions for the urban community

  • Awareness creation among Lira City policymakers, corporates and business communities and other stakeholders about the rights of the marginalized populations to decent housing, food and health care. These rights will be better recognized by invoking our respect for God, and the unique Lango love for family, kin and clan.
  • Work with all Lira City leadership, civil society, religious leaders, clan elders and opinion leaders and already existing initiatives to access for women, youth and disabled local groups employment and skill development programmes.
  • Support women, youth and disabled local groups by supporting their SACCOs and supporting access to low-interest loans for income generation.
  • Promote initiatives that enhance a saving culture among individuals and families in Lira City, coupling this with support towards behavioural change from alcohol and drug abuse.

Need for a well-supported, thriving informal sector
Boda-boda, taxi owners, saloon operators, produce dealers, fishmongers, market vendors, and timber dealers, among others, work and live in Lira City.

They have needs that remain unaddressed and have negatively influenced achieving their fullest potential. As an example, while fish dealers require better refrigeration equipment, produce dealers require reliable storage free of pests and aflatoxins. Saloon operators and boda-boda riders need financial loans.

Grocery owners, market vendors, timber dealers, and hawkers need a conducive, safe trading environment free from harassment by the city authorities. All these groups represent an important source of wealth for the City and are an economic engine for growth and development in this setting.

Proposed solutions

  • Elaborate promotion of financial literacy among the business community to grow local entrepreneurship.
  • Promotion of healthy relationships, productive relationships between traders and the city authority, and dignity for all.
  • Promoting a sense of ownership or the development of the city among the traders; its health, its prosperity, cleanliness and orderliness.
  • Support the development of collective bargaining among the different groups of traders to improve access to financial services, tap into development initiatives, and attract investors
  • Development of infrastructure and mechanisms that improve and ease the delivery of services

An organized, safe and healthy City
Lira City has experienced planners that catered for its needs when still a municipality. The new city status will require a review of Lira’s past urban planning, requiring close collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Planning as well as the Ministry of Local Government.

Industrialization and commercialization will attract a large number of people into the City seeking employment. A number of social services as enumerated below need revamping. I propose a number of solutions below.

Proposed solutions

  • Work closely with the City Planning Authority to improve housing for all categories of city residents including the urban poor, the unemployed, the homeless, etc.
  • I will lobby the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Lira City Authorities to attract investors who can build low-cost rentals for the urban poor, particularly for those in the informal sector.
  • In an upcoming urban setting like Lira City, security of tenure is an important requirement to protect the land rights of vulnerable urban dwellers.
  • Sustainable urban development will be premised on ensuring that existing land tenure systems are recognized and considered during planning and development.
  • I will work with the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, and use my influence to engage organizations like UN-Habitat, and Slum Dwellers International to urgently address the protection and sustainable use of people’s land in Lira City.

Access to clean water

The city requires clean water sources. The level of output by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation and the storage capacity of the city reservoirs require upgrading to ensure that clean water is available for all at all times. I will work closely with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation and lobby for the fast-tracking of the system upgrade in Lira City.

Also read: Lira City’s water crisis: Otto’s message to NWSC, residents  

Sanitation and waste management
I propose to work closely with the city authorities to ensure that sanitation and public health are maintained at the highest possible level. Refuse collection facilities such as trucks, waste troughs, and incinerators are procured and used effectively. Community health education will also be strengthened, and proper enforcement maintained.

I will lobby for the introduction of industries that can utilize refuse and transform it into manure and gas to reduce environmental destruction through the burning of firewood for charcoal.

Part 2, including what she has managed to achieve follows. 

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