Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Eminent problem of Katebwa

Climbimg hills of the Rwenzoris is labourous. This is worsened when one descends and ascends these steep mountain slopes on an ailing body. A few kilmetres above the valley-basin is a hanging block of Rwenzori Mountain. The valley basin is Katebwa.

Katebwa is one those historical places in the Luwero Triangle located in Mt Rwenzori. It is one of those areas that acted as National Resistance Army (NRA) guerrillas' hideouts from 1981 to 1986 that toppled Obote's sectarian regime. The late Chefu Ali led this group.

A visit to Katebwa leaves one in doubt whether this really was the once haven of some members of the now seating government of Uganda. Residents say their place has received less reward for the services it rendered to NRA revolutionaries.

Miserable faces live and welcome you in the area after the rattle of the gun they bore while giving refuge to NRA.

One of the eminent problems of Katebwa has been, and is still, a health unit that could salvage residents from trekking longer distances to nearby health centres in the plain lands.

The nearest medical centre to these people is almost 12 kilometres starting with the foothills accessible by modern motor vehicles.

The terminally sick, including expectant mothers, are brought down the mountain slopes on stretchers using paths on steep mountainsides. For them, they have never known how an ambulance looks like.

Soon after capturing power, government promised to reconstruct a church which its NRA soldiers had used during the liberation war and construct a health unit for the people of Katebwa.

However, facts on ground seem to suggest the promise has overstayed to hatch out. In 2004, the NRM government constructed a monument for its soldiers lost during the NRA war in the church's courtyard.

On arriving in this place, a seemingly minute brick church building and a beautiful heroes' monument make up a curious contrast.

Before reaching the monument at Katebwa, a small permanent house that is representative of the name of Katebwa Health Unit forms a dot of modern housing in the poverty ridden place. It has been built since 2003 but it is not stocked with drugs yet.

Poverty icon residents of the mountainous terrain never tire calling this house, without drugs, a hospital. They say that it ignites their hopes by referring to it as hospital.

The local government of Kabarole District is ever promising to stock the health unit whenever it is election period.

When the fallen heroes' monument was being erected, government offered the church at the monument site a grant of Ugshs 8 million. The money was sent but has never been received by this local church.

Illiteracy levels in this area are very high with less than five university graduates, an area covering space of more than a subcounty.

Before gaining a subcounty status to this area in 2006, political participation ended at Parish level.

Mubatsi Asinja Habati

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