President Yoweri Museveni has urged the church and other religious institutions in the country to use their proximity to the population and partner-up with government in sensitizing the population on how to overcome household poverty which, he said, was the major challenge Uganda is faced with today.
The President made the remarks at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Nyakatare in Kanungu district on Sunday where he was chief guest at the Centenary celebrations marking 100 years since Christianity was introduced in the district of Kanungu.
The President, who credited the church and other religious institutions as historical partners of the State in development, cited their contribution in the education, health, nurturing of leaders and general evolution of society adding that religious institutions need to join hands and play a leading role in the uphill task of eradicating poverty in the country right from the grassroots.
Mr. Museveni said that the government’s message to citizens, the majority of whom are in agriculture, is to engage in modern agriculture that is commercial and profit oriented and right enterprise selection of high yielding crops.
He noted that a strong message against land fragmentation should be sounded out.
The President expressed happiness with the positive indicators that Kanungu district has registered in the struggle against poverty.
He, however, noted that his belief is that income generation should be at each household where society begins and where poverty is felt most adding that no homestead should be left out in this fight.
He encouraged Church and other religious institutions not to relent on giving out messages geared at the fight against household poverty just like they have never backslid from preaching the gospel for centuries.
He, therefore, expressed optimism that society will wake up to this call.
Mr. Museveni, on the same occasion, sent a strong caution to the population, especially in the Kigezi Sub-Region, to desist from their continuous degradation of the environment by farming and settling on river banks, lake shores, protected springs and encroaching on forestry reserves. He said posed a great danger to the future of Kigezi as a region and the country at large.
“You are demanding for power; you want to irrigate your crops and cultivate the year round. How will you achieve this if rivers silt and dry up and rains are no more due to degradation of forests and swamps?” the President asked the population.
He advised Ugandans to make the protection of the environment every citizen’s duty because it affects all of us.
On the reported high level of load shedding in Kanungu district, the President attributed it to the old transmission lines which, he said, were being replaced.
He, however, assured the people of the area that work on 70 percent of the exercise will be through in 3 weeks time.
He also said a new power sub-station is to be constructed at Kanyantorogo to mitigate load shedding in the region.
The President announced the up-grading and tarmacking of the road from Rukungiri – Kihiihi – Ishasha to Kanungu will start in September this year as the funds for the works are available.
He further said that government has noted with concern the fall in prices of tea which is the main cash crop in the area.
He attributed the fall in prices to the conflicts in the Arab countries that were the main consumers of Ugandan tea but called for patience from farmers as government is working to find alternative markets.
The President contributed Shs.100 million towards the construction of the Uganda Institute of Science and Technology in Kanungu, an institution the Diocese of Kanungu is building to commemorate the centenary anniversary of Christianity in Kanungu.
The institute will be devoted to the teaching of professional science and technology disciplines.
The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, hailed the great works of the missionaries who laboured to spread the Gospel to the farthest and remote areas of Africa like Kanungu and the African evangelists who carried the mantle following the departure of the white missionaries.
He called for love, trustworthiness and above all love for God and adhering to His teaching.
He commended the President and his government for the support they have extended to the church at all times and for always honouring the church invitation whenever invited to functions saying that the Church is always praying for him.
The Bishop of Kinkiizi Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dan Zoreka, commended the President for the peace and security in the county which, he said, has enabled development to take place throughout Uganda.
He urged Ugandans not to take the peace for granted but rather work hard to jealously safeguard it.
He said that his Diocese partners-up with government in a number of development programs such as health, education, safe water provision, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and environmental conservation.
He expressed the Diocese’s grateful for the support that they receive from government adding that they will continue to be allies with government in the development of Uganda.
The centennial celebrations were also attended by former Prime Minister, Mr. Amama Mbabazi, the Minister Information and National Guidance, Hon. Jim Muhwezi, State Minister for Health (General), Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, several MPs and representative of several churches and faith groups within and outside the country.