By City Communication Officer

The Mayor of Arua City Council, Wadri Sam Nyakua, has described a recent two-day learning and experience-sharing event at Koboko Municipal Council as a powerful engagement that will have a significant impact on the leadership attitudes in Arua City. The event, organised by VNGi, a development partner implementing the Sustainable Development through Improved Local Governance (SDLG) programme, provided the top political and technical leaders of Arua City Council and its two Divisions with a unique opportunity to learn from Koboko Municipal Council. 

During a validation exercise of the Theory of Change for Arua City Council under the VNGi SDLG programme, it was discovered that the provision of quality service delivery to refugees and host communities fairly and equitably remains a significant challenge confronting Arua City. This challenge has been attributed to the absence of appropriate planning and collaboration among all stakeholders in the implementation of interventions that consider the existence of refugees and migrants.

Conversely, Koboko Municipality has successfully addressed this issue by integrating refugees and migrants into local government planning, decision-making, and program implementation. This achievement has offered an opportunity for Arua City Council to learn from Koboko Municipality's approach and apply it to improve its service delivery to refugees and host communities.

Arua City Mayor, Nyakua expressed his appreciation to VNGi for the resources and learning opportunity that is expected to shape the leadership approach in Arua City and contribute to its overall development. 

‘Koboko is the only urban entity in the region where European Union projects have been undertaken. I thank the Mayor of Koboko Municipality for allowing us to learn from them.’ Nyakua said. 

During the learning visit, the technical officers from Koboko Municipality presented impressive projects in Education, Health, and Psychosocial Support that are being implemented under the European Union Trust Fund, benefitting both refugees and host communities. 

Nyakua expressed hope that Arua City Council will also have the opportunity to implement similar projects in the future. 

‘I am in touch with the Europen Union office in Kampala. There is a likelihood that Arua City will benefit from the EU Trust Fund.’ Nyakua revealed.

The Mayor of Arua City asked VNGi to organize a half-day event for leaders of the three councils to discuss key learnings from Koboko Municipal Council. 

‘These are things that Arua City Council can do but because of toxic politics, they have not been possible. The City is always seen fighting baseless wars.’ Nyakua lamented. 

In his keynote address, Dr. Wilson Sanya, the Mayor of Koboko Municipal Council emphasized that they, as key stakeholders in the region, have a significant interest in everything that happens in Arua City. He further explained that all the leaders in the region expect Arua City Council to make the region proud. 

The role of a Mayor is to make a City a happy place to live in.’ Dr. Wilson alluded. 

The Koboko Mayor further explained that the key to Koboko Municipal Council's success is inclusivity. Both technical and political leaders work together and use the principle of leaving no one behind to ensure that everyone is included and involved.

Dr. Wilson emphasized that a successful council member should follow the proper protocol and utilize council committees, rather than resorting to anger or noise during council meetings. 

‘You must have the ability to solve problems by not using emotions.’ Mayor Sanya advised. 

Dr. Wilson underscored the importance of proactive communication and networking, which have helped Koboko Municipality to become a thriving hub for business and investment. He also urged the leaders of Arua City to adopt a more effective and sustainable planning approach. Rather than focusing on destructive development, the Mayor suggested that a city-improvement approach would be more beneficial. He reiterated that by decongesting the city centre, Arua City would be positioned to attract more resources, improve its infrastructure, and enhance the quality of life for its citizens. 

‘It is possible to have an abattoir and taxi park out of the City Centre. We must learn from the mistakes of KCCA.’ Dr. Wilson advised. 

Koboko Municipality Mayor, Dr. Wilson Sanya delivering his keynote address to leaders of Arua City Council at Blue Dove Hotel Koboko.

Participants Express Key Learnings

Akuma Moses Odims, the Executive Director of West Nile Development Association (WENDA), stressed the significance of collaborative leadership as his highlight from the learning event. He elaborated that leaders who work alongside their team members are more likely to achieve success. Additionally, he emphasized that humility is a crucial attribute for leaders to possess, as it fosters trust and respect among team players.

On his part, Arua City Engineer Charles Omona expressed that from the Koboko Municipality case, he learnt that great leaders don't shy away from challenges, rather they approach problems head-on to uncover solutions. He said it is a vital lesson that he has learned and one that every aspiring leader should take to heart.

Draecabo Trinity Ceasar, President of the Arua City Development Forum (ACDF), emphasized that a good team needs to make significant sacrifices to achieve impressive results. 

‘When you have done your work well, there is no need for explanation. Good work speaks for itself.’ Draecabo asserted.

Aliru Kadija, Chairperson of the Finance and Administration Committee at Arua City Council, learned that effective service delivery requires collaboration and team spirit.

The rationale behind Arua City Council's choice to embark on a learning excursion to Koboko Municipal Council was explained by David Kyasanku, the City Clerk of Arua. 

‘Through peer-to-peer learning, you can learn from the lowest entity. We have honestly learned a lot from Koboko.’ Kyasanku stressed. 

Koboko District Resident District Commissioner, Emmy Mitaale challenged the leaders of Arua City to make decisions that will benefit the entire West Nile region.

‘Arua People, whatever you do, do not think you are doing it for yourselves. What is done in Arua will impact the whole region.’ The RDC cautioned. 

Koboko Municipality is implementing a 30-month Inclusive Urban Development and Mobility project under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. The over 11 billion UGX project under the European Union Trust Fund for Africa aims to pilot an approach of direct support to municipalities with low coverage of basic services and a high concentration of refugees. The projects target 83000 host communities and refugees in Koboko Municipality. 

Arua City Mayor and City Clerk leading the walk while monitoring a project site at Nyarilo PS in Koboko.