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District Profile

District Profile

District Location

Lira district is located in the Lango sub-region in northern Uganda. Physically the district lies between latitudes 10 21’ and 20 42’ north of the Equator and longitudes 2053’ and 3037’ east of Greenwich. The district is bordered by the districts of Agago in the north, Otuke in the northeast, Alebtong in the east, Dokolo in the south, Kwania in the southwest, Kole in the west, Oyam and Gulu in the northwest

District Size

The district covers approximately a total area 1,326 km2 of which 1286.22 km2 is land area. The other 39.78 square kilometers constitute forest reserves, wetlands and geomorphic landforms No known hydro-geological study has been carried out in the district. Nevertheless, the area basement is complex with mainly undifferentiated acid gneiss covering most part of the district. The district also consists of isolated highly weathered and exposed hard-core rocks, quartzite sandstones, and clay gneiss. Hard-core rock and sand are used in construction work; murram is mined and used for road works while clay is for pottery and brick industry.

Climate, and Rainfall

The major physical conditions that normally influence the weather conditions and climate of lira district and Uganda at large are the Indian Ocean dipole, the sea surface temperature anomalies and atmospheric circulation patterns, topographical features and large inland water bodies. However, the climate of the district is locally modified by the large swamp area surrounding the southern part of the district.

The continental climate of the district is modified by the large swamp area surrounding the southern part of the district. The rainfall in the district over the past years have been bimodal with one peak during April-May and the other in August-October. However, this pattern has changed over the recent years with late and unpredicted return of rains which used to set in in March. The dry spell which was experienced in July now occurs earlier and sometimes later than expected and sometimes extends in August. This trend has been highly attributed to climate change. Over the last five years or so, the rainfall in Lira district is unimodal with one prolonged growing season that runs normally from mid-march to September where rainfall normally peaks around august to September in a normal year. The rain is characterized by showers and thunderstorms and is interrupted with about 2 weeks of mild sunshine relaxation that occurs between June – July annually. However, this pattern has changed over the years with late and unpredicted rainfall. This has been highly attributed to climatic change and weather parameter variability

The average annual rainfall in the district varies between 1000-1400 mm during the normal year but abnormality and variability often occurs where it may be higher or lower for instance last year (2019) annual rainfall reached about 1600 mm through the months of October – November. The rainfall is mainly conventional and normally falls in the afternoon hours.

The average minimum and maximum temperatures are 22.50C and 25.50C, respectively. Absolute maximum temperature hardly goes beyond 360C, and absolute minimum hardly falls below 200C.

The Equatorial Trough which brings rainfall passes over the district. The South easterly winds which also brings rains to the district passes over Lira. Land and sea breezes are common in the district. Wind run is low (1-4m/sec) during the rainy season and moderate (4-8m/sec) during the dry season.

Topography and Vegetation

Lira District lies at an approximate altitude ranging from 900m to 1500m above sea level. It is principally gentle undulating land merging into isolated rock outcrops The District is covered by Savanna Vegetation dominated by combretum spp, Acacia spp, Termmalia and Butyspernum paradoxicum in the Eastern and Northern part of the District. The dominant grass is the hypharrehia spp. The forestry reserve covers 14% and wetland occupies 8.9% of the total land. The population is exploiting the natural resources at a very high rate of which in the district, the major source of fuel for cooking is wood that averagely 90 % of the population uses wood fuel for cooking hence leading to rapid tree cutting and no replacement/ replanting. Wet land is another resource that is being exploited yearly by the population that is growing at a terrible rate of 2.88% annually. Many wetlands are being reclaimed for settlement, industry and also being used for farming especially low land rice.

The District has also registered a number of private investors that are engaged in tree nurseries bed preparation. They are planting all kinds of tree seedlings for private individuals to purchase and plant. Currently, a number of private individuals have planted wood trees for timber in their private land that is contributing meaningfully to greening the environment and hence contributing to land coverage.

The district does not have any lake or river. It however has three permanent wetland systems viz; Okole, Olweny and Moroto. The wetlands provide water for domestic and potable purposes, although it is considered generally unsafe for drinking. The district has provided to the communities a number of boreholes, shallow wells and protected springs (Table 3 below) from which the local communities obtain drinking water. Deep wells in the Town Boards of Agweng, Ogur and Barr have been developed and are being pumped by solar power to provide piped water serving the communities of the Town Board.

The continental climate of the district is modified by the large swamp area surrounding the southern part of the district. The rainfall in the district is bimodal with one peak during April-May and the other in August-October. The average annual rainfall in the district varies between 1200- 1600 mm decreasing northwards. The rainfall is mainly convectional and normally comes in the afternoons and evenings. Lira district average minimum and maximum temperatures are 20.50c and 29.50c, respectively. The absolute minimum and maximum temperatures hardly fall below 200c and hardly goes beyond 320c in any normal year. The coldest and warmest months during the day in a year are May and December respectively in any normal year.

The Equatorial Trough which brings rainfall passes over the district. The South easterly winds which also brings rains to the district passes over Lira. Land and sea breezes are common in the district. Wind run is low (1-4m/sec) during the rainy season and moderate (4-8m/sec) during the dry season.

The Equatorial Trough which brings rainfall passes over the district. The South easterly winds which also brings rains to the district passes over Lira. Land and sea breezes are common in the district. Wind run is low (1-4m/sec) during the rainy season and moderate (4-8m/sec) during the dry season.

Administrative and Political Structure

Administrative Structure

Lira District has one Higher Local Government, one Municipal Local Government (with 4 division LGs) and 15 Lower Local Governments. The Municipality has been elevated to a city status effective 6th August 2020 and the sub counties of Adekokwok, Lira and Ngetta (including Iwal) now form part of Lira City. The city has two divisions of Lira City East Division (comprising of the then Adekokwok sub county, Ngetta and Iwal Sub Counties, Lira Central Division and railways division of then Lira Municiplaity) and Lira City West Division comprising of Ojwina Division, Adyel Division of the then Lira Municiplality and Lira Sub County. Six Administrative units; 4 sub counties and 2 town councils were approved in FY 2017/2018 but are not yet operational. The new sub counties are Ayami Sub county curved out of Aromo Sub County, Iwal Curved out of Ngetta, Itek Curved out of Barr Sub County, Wiodyek Curved out of Amach Sub County. The two created town councils are Agweng town council and Amach town council. There is 1 County Administrative unit, 64 parish administrative units, 25 wards administrative units, 685 village administrative units and 66 cell administrative units totaling 751.

The head of the civil service and accounting officer of the District Local Government is the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) immediately assisted by the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (D/CAO). The Assistant Chief Administrative Officer ACAOs are in charge of counties. At the sub- county level, the administration is headed by the sub-county chief (Senior Assistant Secretary) who is the chief executive there and accounting officer.   Immediately below the Sub-County Chief are the parish chiefs and several support extension workers. The Principal Human Officer takes charge of the Human Resource Management unit, while Information and Internal Audit are headed by District Communication Officer and Principal Internal Auditor respectively.

At the District and sub-county levels, there are built offices for discharging the administrative functions. At the parish levels however, the Parish Chiefs discharge administrative functions from the confines of their own homes. It would be appropriate to implement the construction of parish office blocks or in the event of availability of funds to rent office space to provide a secretariat. This will actualize the planned parish development model,

Political Structure

Politically the district is headed by the district chairperson. The District Council is the supreme organ and has an Executive Committee of 5 members including the Chairperson. The role of the District Executive Committee is inter alia, to initiate and formulate policies for approval by the District Council and oversee implementation of Government and Council policies. The members of

the executive committee are designated as Secretaries. There are 5 standing committees of Finance, planning and administration committee, Production and Natural resources committee, community based and Social Services committee and then works and technical services committee. The standing/sectoral committees are responsible for monitoring and reviewing the performance of their respective sectors and reports to council.

There are four (4) Statutory Bodies and Commissions i.e. District Service Commission (DSC) responsible for hiring, disciplining and firing staff; Contracts Committee (CC) is responsible for procurement and disposal of the council assets; District Land Board (DLB) responsible for land management and administration; and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) whose responsible is oversite on accountabilities of public resource of the council.

Demographic Characteristics

Population Size and Structure Population Size

Lira District Population is projected (Midyear 2020) from the 2014 National Population and Housing Census (NPHC), is 474,200, of which 228,400 (48%) are male and 245,800 (52%) are female. This conforms to the country situation where there are more females than males. The majority of the district population (356,507), representing 76% live in the rural areas and the other population (117,692) representing 24% are urban dwellers.

Population Structure

The population structure for an area shows the number of males and females within different age groups in the population. This information is displayed as an age-sex or population pyramid. In Lira district, the structure of the population typically has a wide base and a narrow top, which indicates that younger age categories make up a relatively large proportion of the population implying a high fertility rates, high birth rate and high death rate in younger age groups.

The population projection presents the age dependency ratio of 80.2%, which is on a higher side. For this ratio to reduce there is need to address the family planning un met needs which is at about 62%, addressing youth unemployment problems through agro-industrialization.

Age Composition

In Lira district context, age composition is the number of people in different age groups in the district. Age composition is the most basic characteristic of a population and to a large extent, a person's age influences what s/he needs, buys, does and her/his capacity to perform. Consequently, the number and percentage of a population found within the children, working age and aged groups are notable determinants of the population's social and economic structure. Knowledge of functional age groups, commonly used in Lira’s development programmes is critical in this demographic analysis.

Population Distribution

Population distribution means the pattern of where people live. In Lira district, population distribution is uneven. There are sub counties which are sparsely populated, that is, contain few

people. Some sub counties especially those which are peri urban and the municipal division are densely populated, thus containing many people. Densely populated sub counties and divisions are

indeed, habitable environments motivated by availability of good social services.

The household size (an average number of people in a household) in Lira District varies by residence. The rural residents have larger household size compared to their urban counterparts. Almost all the rural sub counties have a household size of 5.9 while the divisions in the municipal council have an average household size of 3.7

Population Density                                                                                                                                 

The Population Density is a measure of the degree of crowding of an area. The Population Density is given in terms of persons per square kilometer of land area. The total land area for Lira District is 1,326 square kilometers. The population density was 307 persons per square kilometers of land in 2014. Table 1.7 below shows that the population density increased from 307 persons per square kilometers in 2014 to 451 persons per square kilometers in 2030

The population density of Lira district as disaggregated by administrative units indicates that the divisions in Lira Municipality are densely populated compared to the rural sub counties. Ojwina Division is the most densely populated followed by Central division. In the categories of rural sub counties, Adekokwok Sub County is most densely populated followed by Ngetta.

Natural Endowments

The natural resources continue to be under threat due to increasing population and the need for more land for agriculture, settlement, small scale industries and urbanization amongst others. The natural resources endowment of the district includes fertile land, wetlands, rock outcrops, and favourable climate among others. The district has over 100 rock outcrops distributed across the district. The rocks have a big potential for supporting the construction industry. The fertile land supports agricultural production and this has made Lira District and Lango sub region the food basket of the Country and the East African Region.

Lira District wetlands cover about 4,829.2 hectares (7.9%) of the land area, while in Lira Municipality alone wetlands cover 1,313 hectares of the land area. The district rising population and demand for more resources to sustain their livelihood continues to put wetlands and their resources under tremendous pressure reducing the wetland areas mainly the seasonal wetlands which are easily degraded, many of which can be categorized as vanquished wetlands currently Wetlands provide a variety of goods, services and attributes. Some of these are locally relevant; others have a regional, national or international importance. All together, the goods, services and attributes constitute a considerable ecological, social and economic value, which may be lost when wetlands are converted or altered and therefore provide the justification for entrenching wetlands management in the overall socio-economic development process of the district.                          

The cumulative effects of wetland change has resulted into periodic flooding in some areas, reduction in water quantity and quality and a change in microclimate, with grave consequences for crop production, wetland resource use and public health.

The continuous degradation of wetlands in the district continues to pose a threat to availability of safe water for domestic use and increased cost for road construction at wetland crossings. Degradation of seasonal wetlands continues to affect the seasonal breeding of Birds, fish and ecosystem livelihood that is the habitat life span. There is also fear that this localized action is also contributing to global climatic change.

Sanitation coverage in the district is still low as many homes do not have latrines, bath shelters, drying stands, rubbish pits and kitchen. Waste disposal (solid and liquid) methods and habits are still very poor and the communities continue to dispose of wastes in a manner that is harmful to the environment most especially for vuvera and effluent from small scale industries around Lira Municipal Council. Lira Municipality constructed a solid waste composting site in Aler Farm and has just been operationalized with financial support from world Bank through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). This was expected to give a direction for proper waste management in Lira municipal council but the composting site has almost turned into disposal site if not just some kind of a landfill, undermining the original plan of the site

The District is limited with tourism sites that could help generate revenue and support local development in the District.

Analysis Local Economy

Lira District has embarked on Local Economic Development (LED) Initiatives. The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Local Government took a deliberate effort/policy shift from delivery of public goods and services to a more proactive intervention model that entails tackling real household poverty challenges. In 2006, objective number six of decentralization was created namely; ‘To promote Local Economic Development (LED) in order to enhance people’s incomes’. This has been incorporated in the Decentralization Policy Strategic Framework (DPSF) and the Local Government Sector Strategic Plan Strategic Plan 2013-2023(LGSSP), the Uganda Local Development Outlook (LDO) 2014 and subsequently addressed in a chapter on sub-national and rural development within the National Development Plan (NDP 3) and the third District Development Plan (DDP3).

The primary aims of the Local Economic Development is to:

●       Increase in business support by encouraging local investment centre

●       Enhance growth of the private sector investment in LGs; and

●       Increase in locally generated revenue in form of direct taxes and LG own revenue generating    ventures

The District Council in promoting Local Economic Development (LED), shall put in place incentives to attract private investments and identify viable projects for Public Private Partnership (PPP), training LG staff on how to factor in LED activities such as business and economic assessment into their development planning and changing their mindset to focus on both service delivery and wealth creation, creating conducive environment to facilitate business and locality development activities. Community mobilization for development is important to address the general poor attitude towards work especially among the youth.

The GIZ Programme for Promoting Rural Development in Uganda (PRU-DEV) started its work in August 2017. The project seeks to achieve the objective: “The agricultural-based development of the rural economy in selected regions of Northern Uganda is improved.” PRU-DEV implements activities in three components:

Component 1: Capacities for local agricultural-based economic development aims at strengthening the capacities of public institutions, civil society and the private sector to promote agricultural- based local economic development;

Component 2: Improved market integration supports a more intensive market and entrepreneurial orientation of agricultural producers, upstream and downstream MSMEs and service providers;

Component 3: Access to financial services, aims to improve access to demand-oriented financial services for agricultural holdings and upstream and downstream MSMEs, complementing the first two Field of Activities.

The private sector however faces several challenges with respect to starting and sustaining a business, cross-border trading, including, and limited financial literacy among the entrepreneurs compounded by poor quality and standard of local products to compete favorably; inadequate supply of local commodities to the international market and poor or non-enforcement of contracts

e.g. failure to respect supply contracts, delayed payments to suppliers, the slow disposal of commercial court cases. In addition, the sector is affected by limited access to financial resources due to high cost of borrowing, insufficient collateral, limited financing for long term ventures as well as inadequate policy framework and strategy for public-private partnerships (PPPs); and high transport costs for products and inputs. It should be pointed out that inadequate investment in research and development limits the ability of the sector to learn new technologies and methods of production as well as markets and prices for their products.

To expand the economic infrastructure for LED to thrive, Strategic interventions such as supporting the LGs to build, in partnership with the private sector actors, economic infrastructure facilities such as warehouses, lorry and taxi parks, industrial parks, bulking centers, processing facilities, extending power supply, etc. to promote LED activities at the LG.

Strengthen National and Local Government capacities to implement LED envisage Strategic interventions such as equipping LGs with necessary skills to negotiate and manage public-private partnership agreements.

Human Settlement Patterns;

The human settlement pattern in Lira district is largely a dispersed pattern especially in the rural areas and nucleated pattern in the semi-urban centers such as Aromo Town board, Agweng Town council, Amach Town council and Barr trading center.

Productive Resources;

Lira district is rich with some productive resources such as water for agricultural production, fertile soils for farming. The district is also rich with variety of crops such soya beans, sun flower and cotton. Some of them are used for cooking oil production, whereas re used for milling and cloth production.

Economic Activities;

There are several economic activities practiced by the people in Lira district due to several favorable factors and conditions. However, the major economic activity is agriculture due to the fertile soils and good climatic conditions. Trading in retail and wholesale merchandise is mainly practiced in the urban and semi-urban centers. Rock quarrying is another common economic activity especially in areas.


The communities in Lira have unique Lango cultural ways of life that also have implications on development processes that relate to traditional cultural practices such as Marriages, property ownership and accesses, Inheritances, Family relationships, Music Dance and Drama, Agriculture, Health, Art and crafts, Leadership and others. Most Lango cultural values have not been properly exploited for economic benefits. Also some antiquities have run into extinction or degraded due to laxity of the young generation influenced by Western cultures and lack of documentation and protection that has been a challenge of the past generation.

However, some of the Lango cultures that can be regained and redeveloped for economic benefits include;

·             Music, Dance and Drama

·             Traditional health services

·             Hospitality services (Foods and drinks)

·             Art and crafts

·             Cultural leadership assets and antiquities