The prestigious annual National Population Media Awards 2023 Thursday awarded five journalists including the former UG Standard correspondent in the northern region David Okema for their outstanding reporting on Population and Development issues in Uganda.
Previously at UG Standard and PML Daily, Okema, a senior journalist and Bureau Chief for DailyExpress in the Acholi Sub-Region emerged the winner in the Online Category with his well-packaged story titled “Is Museveni’s Executive Order No.3 a Blanket Order?” which featured in July this year shortly after the Presidential directive on the tense Balaalo crisis in the northern region.
Speaking right after receiving his accolade, Okema expressed joy and appreciation towards the NPC for recognizing his efforts and urged fellow journalists to produce well-researched stories that are impactful to the community to cause a change.
“I am honoured and motivated to be recognised by the great brains as a winner in this competition. I never expected it. It’s my maiden and I believe this was possible because of my commitment and consistency to serve my people using my career. I think as journalists, we just need to do more and produce well-researched stories that can differentiate us from citizen journalists out there,” Okema stated.
“Our stories should be able to shape debate, reform policies or advance the existing policies for the betterment of our communities,” he added.
Vision Group’s Jacquline Achan (New Vision) emerged overall winner and bagged shs 2 million in cash, an accolade and sundries while Henry Mugenyi (NBS Television) won in the Television category.
Other winners were; Prossy Nandutu, (New Vision) who won in the print category and Amaiko Martin of Radio Simba in the radio category. Each of them bagged accolades and Shs 1 million.
The NPC competition was judged by five competent judges including Diana Kyakuhaire a Communication Specialist, Dr Marion Alina, Dr Sarah Namusoga Kaale, and Wilson Akiiki Kaija, all senior lecturers at Makerere University and Mr Mark Walungama, the General Manager of Uganda Catholic Television.
The award ceremony held on Thursday, November 30, at the Hotel Africana in Kampala coincided with the launch of the State of Uganda Population Report 2023 (SUPRE 2023).
Mr Samson Samuel Omwa, the acting Director General of National Population Council while presenting the report highlighted that Uganda’s population in 2023 is projected at 46.2 million. Females account for 51% of the total population, and males 49%. About 44% are aged 0-14 years, 53% are aged 15-64 years, which constitute the economically productive age group, and only 3% are aged 65 and above.
In Chapter Three of the report, Mr Omwa pointed out digital transformation and wealth creation arguing that the advances in Information and Communications Technology (ICTs), including the Internet, which have created avenues of inclusion for persons with disabilities.
Ms Gift Malunga, the Country Representative for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) acknowledged the strides Uganda is making towards fulfilling the Nairobi International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) commitments which is being exhibited by the progress in indicators including reduction in maternal mortality, fertility rate and modern contraceptive prevalence rate.
She noted that Uganda’s main policy to tie together the demographic dividend revolves around making sure that the adolescents are healthy, properly educated, and appropriately skilled to seize the employment opportunities that will arise within the economy as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP III.)
The State Minister for Finance and Planning, Hon Amos Lugolobi, each financial year Uganda Budget shows a growing burden of debts during budget planning and this is worrying because the biggest percentage of Uganda’s population are dependents, which makes an effort to attain middle-income status is elusive with the current trend of population.
“National population council has a huge burden to create awareness to the masses to change the status quo to be able to realize the desired socioeconomic growth and development,” Lugolobi stated.
Ms Angella Nakafero, Commissioner Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development emphasized the need to direct more effort into mindset change to be able to address the issues of teenage pregnancy and child marriage deep-rooted in many social norms of the communities. She argued that a shift in mindset will also tackle the issue of violence against women and girls.
Statistics from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), 2016 report indicate a decline in maternal mortality from 336 deaths /100000 live births in 2016 to 189 deaths/100000 live births in 2022.
The unmet need for family planning has also reduced from 35% to 22%, total fertility rate from 6.9 to 5.2.