Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some events in 2012 at ICOD Action Network

- Visit by Resident District Commissioner
- Our Director speaks at Northwestern Conference on Human Rights in Evanston Illinois.
- ICOD Action Network made 5 years
- We hosted Philly Lutaaya Day

- Our Director gave an opening keynote speech at SMOCSA conference in Kampala Uganda.
June: We started distributing female condoms to break discrimination against women in sexual rights.

- Farmers study tour to a goat breeding farm
- A suspected Ebola case was reported in Lyantonde

- Hosted the second HIV/AIDS stakeholders meeting
- Globe Med's Director of Partnerships visited us
- We started distributing and displaying 2011 external auditors reports at Lyantonde Internet Center (LIC) to enhance accountability with in our systems, show LIC's customers their investment in our agriculture projects and encourage other organizations to make financial details public so as to fight fraud and embezzlement of funds
- We ended our year on December 15. 
To get a copy of our 2011 external auditors report, send an email to
For details on these are more events, please visit our  2012 archive on the lower right site of the blog

Happy holidays and a prosperous new year 2013

ICOD Action Network Team

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ICOD Action Network hosts another HIV/AIDS stakeholders meeting

ICOD Action Network hosted another HIV/AIDS stakeholders meeting this December.  The goal was to plan for monitoring Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) services in the district, which will be done by ICOD Action Network and Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The meeting attended by Lyantonde District Local Government representatives, Lyantonde Hospital, Lyantonde Moslem Supreme Health Center, Uganda Cares, Uganda Police representatives, representative from Sub Counties PLHA networks was a major step towards our efforts to consolidate partnership between different institutions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Why monitor ART services?
Lyantonde District has only one hospital that is poorly equipped with personnel and medical supplies. The hospital is frequently hit by drug shortages. During drug shortages, people living with HIV/AIDS are the mostly affected because they can’t access life saving ARVs. Lyantonde Hospital is currently the only source of ARVs for over 7000 PLHAs on ARVs. More than 70% of the PLHAs move more than 30 kilometers to access the services since rural Health centers like Kinuuka Health Center which previous served more than 100 people have been rendered redundant due lack of ARVs supplies. Health centers also run out of essential drugs such as anti-malarials, septrin, and drugs for children, which are important in treatment of opportunistic infections. There is no formal monitoring mechanism of ART services in the district, which has affected investment in ART services by NGOs and  affected government’s efforts to increase ART services in the district.

Some of the participants at the meeting.
Over the period of one year, ICOD Action Network and Lyantonde Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS will monitor access to ARVs by PLHAs. We will be looking at some of the challenges faced by PLHAs in accessing ART services, monitor ARVs supply, lobby for increased ARVs supply at Lyantonde’s Health Rural Centers, making referrals in times of shortages and directly working with PLHAs in the district to advocate for increased ARVs supply in the district.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Suspected Ebola case reported in Lyantonde.

First victim was a teacher from Mpumudde Sub County.

Residents of Lyantonde District are in panic following the death of a primary school on Saturday November 17, 2012. The deceased Tomasi Kasente Njerejezza died with Ebola-like symptoms. His death comes a time when the deadly Ebola has broken out in Luweero district just 30 days after Uganda was declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization.
The late Tomasi a teacher and boda-boda rider (motorcycle taxi) died after a short illness after suffering severe headache, high fever, stomach pains, diarrhea, intensive bleeding and vomiting which are some of the symptoms of the deadly Ebola fever.  The late Tomasi’s colleagues suspect he contracted  Ebola virus from Luweero where he  was on business few days before his death.

Dr. Steven Kagaaya who led a team of health experts said none of the family members were allowed to touch the deceased’s body because they lacked protective gear like gloves and masks. Blood samples were taken from the deceased and taken Uganda’s virus institute to confirm if it was Ebola. However, relatives and neighbors of the deceased are being monitored for any Ebola symptoms. Dr. Steven said that equipment like gloves, sprays and masks for medical workers have already run out yet relatives and medical workers can not come close to suspected patients with out protective gear.

Last evening, Uganda’s NTV  also reported of the emergence of the Ebola fever in Lyantonde. We are in touch with medical staff at Lyantonde Hospital and we will keep our readers updated.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Join us for a weeklong mourning the gross theft of public resources in government. We will close for 3 days between Nov. 12 - Nov 23, 2012

UGANDA - The cost of corruption is huge. Starting this week, we are joining other NGOS across the country to mourn gross theft of public funds by government funds.  Our offices will be closed for 3 days between Nov. 12 - Nov 23, 2012. We look back at nine graft scandals that have tossed Uganda here and there in the recent past.

Common Wealth Head of Governments Meeting (Chogm) 2007

This came to public attention last year (2011). Several ministers, including former Vice-President, Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and former state minister for works and transport, John Byabagambi, were implicated in the mismanagement of billions of public funds meant for the 2007 CHOGM summit.

Others implicated were ministers John Nasasira, Mwesigwa Rukutana and Isaac Musumba. Although Parliament allocated sh270b to the summit, the Auditor General discovered that more than sh370b was spent.

The figures went up to sh500b after parliamentary accounts committee grilled those who spent the funds.

The probe, commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni, found out that money was lost in irregular procurement of the CHOGM cars, road construction and repairs, and the renovation of Entebbe Airport, among other ventures.

Several permanent secretaries interrogated claimed they had acted on orders from former Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya, who was the chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on CHOGM.

Prof. Bukenya was accused of influence-peddling in the sh19b CHOGM car deal, but later court acquitted him. 

Global Fund 2008

At the time of investigations, $10m (sh25b) was missing, although some sources put the figure at $37 (sh95.8b).

The money was meant for malaria and tuberculosis drugs programmes. The scandal sucked in former health minister Jim Muhwezi and his then deputies Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha.

Some of the known culprits include the director of economic affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Cheeye and former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, who are currently on remand in Luzira Prison over the scam.

Although many of people have since been absolved of wrongdoing by court, Mike Mukula was told recently that he has a case to answer.

The scandal centered on a new unit within the Health Ministry, known as the Project Management Unit (PMU), through which the money was siphoned to about 400 private organizations  many of which existed only on paper.

Investigations revealed that PMU paid grossly inflated salaries to its 15 professionals and 20 support staff, who often doubled their take home pay with generous and largely undocumented expense allowances.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has committed $5.1b in grants to more than 130 countries to fight the three diseases. 

Temangalo 2008

NSSF-Temangalo saga came to light in July 2008, when reports emerged that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, then security minister and Amos Nzeyi had been paid sh11b by the Fund for 414 acres of land, with each acre going for sh24m.

It was reported that the price was higher than that on the market, resulting into the Fund losing billions of shillings.

Knight Frank put the price of an acre in the area at sh18m, East African Consulting Surveyors at sh16m and Associated Consulting Surveyors at sh14m.

NSSF decided to go for what it called an open market price of sh24m. The Parliamentary probe found that Mbabazi used his clout as security minister to force NSSF to purchase his land.

In its majority report, the parliamentary committee investigating the matter concluded that indeed Mbabazi and Ezra Suruma had violated sections of the Leadership Code.

ID Scandal 2010

In February, 2010, the Government entered a deal with Mühlbauer, a German firm, to supply national IDs. Muhlbauer High Tech was allegedly contracted without open bidding as required by law.

The company was to supply and install equipment for production of the identity cards. The IDs were supposed to be used to identify eligible voters during the 2011 elections.

But by February last year, the company had reportedly produced only 400 cards. Parliament learnt that the Government borrowed over sh150b to finance the project, which has never kicked off.

According to the PAC, contracting the firm resulted in a fi nancial loss of sh19b.

The ministers implicated include former general duties minister, Kiddu Makubuya, former internal affairs minister, Kirunda Kivejinja and the local government Permanent Secretary, Steven Kagoda. 

Bicycle 2011

Amman Industrial Tool and Equipment Ltd, a locally-registered company, was contracted by the Ministry of Local Government to supply 70,000 bicycles meant for LCs, but no single bicycle was delivered.

The company was reportedly paid $1.7 million (about sh4b).

Microfinance and Specioza Kazibwe ­ 2011

Sh60b went missing from Microfinance Support Centre in a record three months.

Former Vice-President Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, who was the board chairperson, was subsequently suspended over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement in the office she assumed in 2008.

Others board members who were suspended are MP Tim Lwanga, Mutebi Kityo, Charles Ogol from the finance ministry and Twino Musinguzi.

President Yoweri Museveni started the institution in 2003, to ensure Ugandans accessed funds for poverty reduction in their households.

Hassan Basajjabalaba compensation scandal ­ 2011

Sh169b was ‘erroneously’ issued to city tycoon Hassan Basajjabalaba as compensation for the loss of business for the city markets last year.

Two ministers, Syda Bbumba of finance and attorney general Khiddu Makubuya, were axed alongside three members of staff at State House on the matter.

However, the Government exonerated the Bank of Uganda governor, Tumusiime Mutebile, of any wrongdoing in the compensation.

Pension’s scandal ­ 2012

Sh169b meant to clear outstanding pension claims of 1,018 former East African Community workers went missing between February and October last year.

The money is said to have been siphoned through Cairo International Bank, with connivance from top employees of the ministries of public service and finance.

Peter Sajjabi, the East African Community Beneficiaries Association general secretary, admitted to the Police that he had recommended the 1,018 names, which he said were passed on to him by the Ministry of Public Service, to Cairo International Bank for account opening.

Prime Minister’s Office ­ 2012

The principal accountant in the Prime Minister’s Office, Geoffrey Kazinda, was recently remanded to Luzira Prison in connection with the disappearance of sh5b.

The money, meant for the Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda, was reportedly transferred to the Crisis Management and Recovery account, from where it was siphoned.

Kazinda has been charged before the Anti-Corruption Court with abuse of office, causing financial loss, embezzlement, false accounting and forgery.

Following the development, three donor countries cut aid. The British government, Denmark and Ireland have frozen development aid to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Additional source: New Vision

Friday, October 19, 2012

My sister runs eight Miles every day

Some of you reading this article have asked me several times why of all places on earth I chose to live and work here.  In my school days, most of my classmates never knew I came from Lyantonde because I didn’t want to be associated with a town popular for prostitutes and the fact that Uganda’s first HIV case was discovered few miles from here in 1982.  As I grew up, I learnt to love and appreciate the good and bad things about the only place I call home; HIV/AIDS and prostitutes inclusive.  

One night, a great friend, Ryan drove me back home on N25 Milwaukee, Wisconsin from a barbecue night out. “I want to ask you this son; I hope it won’t offend you… We have talked about so many things and set our goals for the future, I have realized you speak with a lot of energy and love for people living with HIV and your love for them, are you HIV positive? Hey Mjomba Ryan, I want to answer this question again here, I am not HIV positive and might not be soon (Insha Allah). I have work with people living with HIV/AIDS, shared food with them, meet them every day, and hug them; they are part of me. In March 2008, I founded ICOD Action Network help my community overcome the most pressing problems and with HIV/AIDS among youth and women top on the agenda.
Five years down the road, everyone at ICOD Action Network, donors, beneficiaries and community are happy for what we have achieved. Congratulations folks, but I think we won’t celebrate for long if we don’t design projects targeting prostitutes and directly work with them.  
I have lived in Lyantonde for a very long time but I have never come so close to a prostitute as I did few days ago.  It never came to my mind that I would hold hands or share a drink with my community’s most despised girls just because they are prostitutes. Any ways, I had good time with the girls I met. I actually met over 10 sisters (you call the prostitutes) but will share with you stories from only two.  
Are you wondering why I chose to have time with prostitutes? I must clarify this: the first is that I have been raised, lived and worked in town popular for harboring the region’s most experienced prostitutes, so they are my sisters, I hold no prejudice against them and I believe none of these girls was born a prostitute.  All the girls I met were forced into prostitution by socio-economic hardships and would stop if they had other means of earning a living.  Finding a title for this article gave me a headache until I talked this particular girl Jam (not real name) who told me she entertains eight different men every day” Can this be true?
Jam hails from Isingiro district and the is the only girl in the family of 6.
Grabs a cold beer, stares at me and …. “What do you want to know? I am a prostitute, don’t you know that? I conceived the first time I slept with a man when I was in senior three. I dropped out of school and I went to Mbarara to work as a waitress. I hate all men…, but I don’t hate you since you have bought me beer” Jam says she is 19 and is the youngest of the girls at the bar where she is works. I think at 19, she would be in high school or in University. She goes on, “I stay here, this is my home and this is my house. When you come around and need me, just knock on my door”.  Need you? My heart jerks… “I can serve eight different men in day. That’s why these girls hate me because I am better than them. They accuse me for using witchcraft to attract men. Can’t you see I am beautiful?” She looks good I must admit, and I think she shouldn’t be into prostitution.  She tells me on a bad day, she gets five or three customers. Jam thinks she has no family anymore and belongs nowhere, her home and family is the room she rents and her customers. 
Kayu (not real name) says she is 29, has five children, is HIV positive and tells me she is two months pregnant. She says she has been a prostitute since 17 because her family was poor and couldn’t afford school fees. I talked to Kay because I have seen her around for so long and she is regarded one of the most experienced girls in town. How do you entertain customers Kay? Stares at me too and says what I least expected. “When men come and they don’t want to use condoms, I let them do what they want…” But you are HIV positive? “True, but if a customer doesn’t want to use condoms and I don’t care. Do you think I bought HIV from a supermarket? I got it from a man like you, so I don’t care”.  Like all the girls here, Kay’s only source of livelihood is prostitution and she says she can stop only if she gets a better job.  Kay and other people living with HIV don’t have guaranteed supply of antiretroviral drugs from the local hospital.  
Jam and Kayu are some of the many girls here and across the country forced by socio-economic challenges to join prostitution. During the joint annual review of the national HIV/AIDS strategic plan by the Uganda AIDS Commission, HIV/AIDS campaigners in Uganda called for an improvement in the coordination of anti-HIV/AIDS messages in order to avoid confusing the public on the efficacy of the different prevention strategies. Uncoordinated and sometimes confusing HIV/AIDS presentation / care massages have been blamed for the increase in HIV/AIDS prevalence in Uganda. It’s very sad that few of HIV/AIDS programming organization have come out with specific projects and messages targeting prostitutes yet they are blamed for increasing the rate of new infections in Uganda estimated at 530,000 every year.  Jam , Kayu  several others sisters need specific information and projects that will help them overcome stigma and discrimination in society. They also need special social, cultural and economic attention to overcome challenges, support their families and leave prostitution.

Ahabwe Mugerwa Michael

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Uganda needs more funds committed to healthcare: Join us now

On September 18, 2012, Uganda’s media reported that the ruling National Resistance Movement made a U-turn and agreed with President Museveni that health matters aren’t a priority now. The meeting later had concluded that Health Committee chairman Dr Sam Lyomoki, together with Chief Whip Justine Lumumba and Premier Amama Mbabazi should write a paper on national health concerns which would be considered during the drafting of next year’s budget. (Source)
What does this mean?
Mothers and children like these will die in thousands...
She needs 260bn allocated to the health

Children like these need health care sector prioritized  so that they can live to their full potential

The health sector will remain understaffed and underfunded  until Uganda passes the next budget mid next year.
HIV prevalence  will continue to rise from 6.4% in 2004 to 7.3% in 2012 and more people living with HIV/AIDS will die because they won’t have access to life saving ARVs."
Join the fight now and lets demand for 260 billion for Uganda’s health secotr. Write a petition to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda.
You can also let the Hon. Prime Minister know tweet @Amamambabazi using the hashtag #ugHealthBudget - We need more funds committed to healthcare because it's PRIORITY (Credit #enamara).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Death announcement: John's father passes on

ICOD Action Network, Center for Human Rights and Polity Studies and our partners announce with deepest regrets the passing on of Mr. Pascal Mbabali. The Late is the father of our staff John Nyombi.   This sad event occurred on September 16, 2012 following a protracted period of illness. Funeral Service will be held on September 17, 2012 at Kijjukizo Catholic Parish in Lyantonde Town at 3:00pm  and burial will be on September 20, 2012 in Lwensinga trading center, 2.5 kilometers south of Lyantonde Town. May his soul Rest in Peace. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

World Humanatarian Day: meet a "small" guy who worked with us to start a solar powered internet center

Sunday 19, August is World Humanitarian Day. Have you done anything to help some one in need? Have you donated to a noble cause? Have you signed a petition for a just human rights cause?  To celebrate World Humanitarian Day, we have singled out one “small” guy who worked with us set up the first solar powered Internet center in our region (southwestern Uganda). Waitresses who served him local food,  local farmers, boda boda boys (motorcycle taxi) and children he met on Lyantonde’s dusty streets, called Ga-a-lanti instead of Grant. Grant Buhr who currently lives in Chicago Illinois worked with Project Focus from 2007 to July 2012.
2010 staff retreat in Lake Mburo National Park.
Grant lived and worked with us for almost one year. Before he left, we had Lyantonde Internet Center running. He worked like a professional social worker, mobilized communities, shot and produced videos, helped manage finances and danced with us to our local Ugandan songs. Its impossible write everything  in this article but we hope you enjoy some the videos he worked on while living in Lyantonde. Michael: You need 365 days to listen to my story. 
Michael: I first met Grant in 2007. It never came to my mind that I would work with him again because he was in different world; producing videos and music, lives in the U.S… On one of our trips on rainy day, I lost control of the bike and we crushed into a pothole full of dirty water. He knew I was a good driver and he trusted me with his life again.  The most trying moment with him was when some one guy we all thought was honest almost conned our organizations $100,000 meant to construct a school. It was a very stressing time but we decided to move forward and here we are. As I said before, I need 365 days.
Adam: ( laughs) I remember him as a very strict man… he loved playing with children here.
Fatuma:  (laughs so loud and  tightens her scuff) Wabula simanyi kyakwogela ( I don’t know what to say) He was very hardworking, down to earth and  I remember he once said he wasn’t going to shave until we had enough money to start Lyantonde Internet Center.  
Enjoy some of the videos produced. 



Monday, July 30, 2012

Uganda's Yoweri Museveni warns of Ebola threat as deaths are reported in the capital Kampala

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called on people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly Ebola virus spread to the capital, Kampala.
Fourteen people have died, including one in Kampala, since the outbreak began in western Uganda three weeks ago, he said in a special broadcast.
Ebola is one of the most virulent diseases in the world. It is spread by close personal contact and kills up to 90% of those who become infected.

Mr Museveni said health officials were trying to trace everyone who had had contact with victims so that they could be quarantined.  People should avoid shaking hands, kissing or having sex to prevent the disease from spreading, he added.
Mr Museveni said relatives and friends should not bury anyone who is suspected to have died of Ebola.
"Instead call health workers because they know how to do it," he said.
Mr Museveni said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital - the main referral hospital in Kampala - are in quarantine after "at least one or two cases" were taken there. One victim later died. 

"I wish you good luck, and may God rest the souls of those who died in eternal peace," Mr Museveni said as he ended his address to the nation.
The first victim of the latest outbreak was a pregnant woman.
Uganda has seen three major outbreaks over the past 12 years. The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.
There is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and kidneys problems.

Ebola’s hits Kibaale District 

Government has dispatched a team of doctors to hunt down and isolate people suspected of having come into contact with patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Kibaale district.
Some 20 people been infected by the virus by Saturday night, according to the district health officer Dr Dan Kyamanywa, of whom 14 have died.
Although no new infections had been reported by press time yesterday the race was on to isolate people who came into contact with those affected, in order to stop the highly infectious virus from spreading.
A team of physicians from the Health ministry, the US Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation are in the district to assist local officials manage the outbreak.
Dr Kyamanywa said two patients admitted to an isolation ward at Kagadi Hospital are showing signs of recovery. “They were admitted with severe fever, abdominal pain and diarrhoea but they are in a fairly good condition,” he said.
The disease was first reported about two weeks ago in Nyanswiga Village, Nyamarunda Sub-county, after it killed 13 family members. Ms Claire Muhumuza, a clinical officer at Kagadi Hospital who was attending to the patients, also passed on last week.
Dr Kyamanywa said three patients have recovered and are under surveillance. District leaders joined medical officials in briefing the public about the disease in a two-hour talk show that was aired at Kagadi-Kibaale community radio on Saturday.
Dr Kyamanywa said a public awareness and sensitisation campaign has been rolled out to give measures of prevention from contracting the disease.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Planning Saves Lives, But Millions Can’t Access It

By Carolyn Miles

Around the world, an estimated 222 million women who don’t want to get pregnant cannot access contraception. I was surpised to learn Namutebi was one of them.

On the way to the Ugandan hospital where I met Namutebi, I saw several clinics advertising family planning services. The services were free and there for the asking.  But despite her deep desire to control her family size, Namutebi told me she didn’t go to the clinics.  Her husband didn’t want her to use contraceptives, she said.  It just wasn’t a decision she could make.

Namutebi was in her early 20s, but she had just given birth to her fifth child.  She was lucky, really, because she escaped serious complications for her baby or herself—even though she was unable to plan and space her pregnancies at least two years apart as medically recommended. In fact, empowering women to delay conception for three years after giving birth could save up to 1.8 million children’s lives each year, as explained in Save the Children’s new report, Every Woman’s Right: How family planning saves children’s lives.

But Namutebi hardly felt like celebrating.  She told me she felt worried.  How would she and her husband provide for their growing family?  Would there be enough money for food?  For school fees?  And what if she kept having babies?  She probably would, she knew.  The average Ugandan woman has seven children, a figure that has barely budged for several decades.

In Namutebi’s community and others around the world, large family size is equated with status and even a perception of wealth.  In some Ugandan tribes, for example, a man may receive cows for every daughter he marries off.   He’ll need these when it comes time for his sons to marry.  The whole thing can end in a wash, but the pressures remain.  Women like Namutebi and their children often pay the price, sometimes with their lives.

In many places where men have the upper hand, husbands may insist their wives keep having children and become angry or even abusive if women choose to use contraception. It makes sense, then, that when we talk about making family planning more accessible for women, we include men in the conversation. The Ugandan government has started to do that now with a campaign aimed at engaging men around the benefits of having smaller families.

Save the Children also includes men in our global efforts by helping train male “motivators” to talk to their peers with messages on the importance of healthy timing and spacing of births.  At the same time, we must ensure that women themselves can access family planning methods that are acceptable to them.  That’s one of the many reasons Save the Children puts great emphasis on training frontline health workers to reach out directly to mothers in their own communities.  These health workers are a critical link to lifesaving maternal, newborn and child health services—including family planning—for women who cannot access hospitals or sometimes even a clinic.

This week, world leaders congregated in London for a family planning summit hosted by the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The summit addressed the barriers to improved access and use of contraception, and prompted government pledges to for family planning—which we hope will boost supplies, improve delivery and focus on the critical role of frontline health workers.   This comes on the heels of a global “Child Survival Call to Action” hosted by the U.S., Indian and Ethiopian governments in Washington last month. Save the Children is calling on policymakers to endorse that forum’s goal of ending preventable child deaths within a generation.

The United States has helped lead the way to cutting child deaths by nearly half in the last 20 years.  We need to keep investing in girls’ education and health and nutrition programs that we know save children’s lives. Family planning is a key part of the solution.

Source: Logging Miles

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2300 female condoms distributed.

We continue to try and break discrimination against women in sexual rights; we have distributed 2300 female condoms. We got new supplies today; 2 boxes containing 2000 female condoms for distribution. 

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