Bishops, government strike anti-poverty deal


Last month’s visit by religious leaders to President Yoweri Museveni’s country home in Rwakitura is beginning to pay-off after the clergy and the government agreed to an anti-poverty campaign.

Under the deal, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries will facilitate the clergy to preach anti-poverty messages among Christians.

Their first day out was on Thursday when Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali led a team of religious leaders to tour selected model farmers in Kalungu and Bukomansimbi districts.

Minister Ssempijja, Stanley Ntagali and other religious leaders.

On the team were representatives of other churches with representation on the Inter-religious Council of Uganda (IRCU).

According to Kizito Lwanga, under the partnership, the church leaders are going to help government in encouraging Christians to embrace commercial farming as advocated by President Museveni.

“The Catholic Church has been doing its best to boost its people through their known project Caritas and since the government has joined hands with us in the fight against poverty, more people will be empowered to embrace agriculture as their main activity in their daily living,” Lwanga said.

He urged government to remain steadfast on the partnership.
On April 13, Kizito Lwanga led IRCU principals as well as key figures in Kampala Archdiocese to Rwakitura for a two-day tour of farms in Kiruhura and Ibanda districts.

The Rwakitura visit was fixed after Lwanga met with Museveni over the prelate’s public accusations against the state that he said was using priests to spy on him.

In Rwakitura, Lwanga asked Museveni to change his anti-poverty strategy and channel funds for such programs through religious institutions.

Mr Sowedi Sserwadda (L) a farmer in Bukomansimbi interracting with religious leaders.

The clergyman suggested that the government should make a special allocation in the national budget for religious leaders.

Days later, Museveni donated Shs 500m to the Kampala Archdiocese owned Wekembe Savings and Credit Cooperative society (SACCO).

HOW IT WILL WORK

Joshua Kitakule, the IRCU general Secretary said, the clergymen intend to use their influence to change the mindset of the people by forming a number of groups within their religious sects in order to fight poverty among believers.

Rev Fr Paul Mutaasa who represented Metropolitan Yona Lwanga on the Orthodox Church said that the government initiative to bring religious leaders on board was long overdue since Christians listen more to what their religious leaders say.

The Minister for Agriculture Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said that the newly established partnership is intended to bring all religious leaders on board in campaign since they use their pulpit to encourage their followers take up commercial farming as the best way to get rid of poverty.

“The problem we have is that people haven’t changed their mindset away from peasant farming yet its agriculture nowadays that people become richer, for this, we are ready to work with religious leaders since they have many organized groups and that most of the people listens to them,” Mr Ssempijja said.

Ssempijja said that the Church leaders will also help government to know all commercial farmers in the country so that they can be re-organised and helped to access the market.