In a visit aimed at exposing the women councillors to governance techniques in other districts as well as having them get a hands on experience on how successful councils work, Mbale district hosted Pallisa women councillors. The visit was organised by ACFODE and her partner Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, for women councillors from Pallisa district to Mbale district.
The exchange visit event was attended by the District Chairperson, the Speaker, CAO, the women councillors and selected heads of departments from the district.
In his presentation the District Speaker Hon. Wanzala Anthony was pleased that ACFODE had chosen Mbale to host the district councillors from Pallisa. He informed members that as a council, they placed an emphasis on service delivery and keeping close contact with the electorate, a move that has seen every councillor have an office at the sub county they represent.
Health remains one of the district’s priorities. Mbale district has made deliberate efforts to construct health centres in the hard to reach hilly areas of the district; they have also invested in motor cycle ambulances to get sick and injured people to hospitals faster. Mbale at the moment boosts of safe and clean health amenities. The district also has a policy to attract development partners with one of the incentives given to them as land for their operations.
The district also invests in competent staff. The District Education Officer (DEO) for example mentioned that his staff are educated up to Masters Level. There are deliberate efforts to build the capacities of the councillors and the technical team through fresh and refresher trainings on governance, leadership and information communication technology. Above all, the team from Mbale emphasized unity. The councillors mentioned that they were all leaders in their various capacities and it was important that they worked together for the benefit of the people who voted them into office.
The key learnings for the Pallisa team included; improving on the Human Resource Department, i.e. appoint substantive staff in all positions; develop and implement a capacity building plan to improve the competencies of both the councillors and technical team; increase their interaction with the citizens with regular meetings, attending sub county council meetings and even establishing offices in addition to strengthening the Women’s Caucus.
The exchange learning visits were such a realisation for the councillors from Pallisa. Going to the exemplary Mbale, opened their eyes to the gaps in their district councils, and they were able to pick tangible recommendations, lessons and best practices to induct into their districts.
It is now hoped that the councillors will be able to replicate the skills and knowledge gained in their own districts. The learning visit was also an opportunity for ACFODE to draw lessons and recommendations for future programming for women in leadership and to establish relationships with the Mbale Local Governments. ACFODE used findings from the Local Government Councils’ Scorecard Initiative to establish the best performing districts in the respective project regions.