All you need to know about “the Distinguished Order of the Source of the Nile Class One Medal” the Highest State Honor awarded to Dr Pius Bigirimana

All you need to know about “the Distinguished Order of the Source of the Nile Class One Medal” the Highest State Honor awarded to Dr Pius Bigirimana

Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Judiciary and Makerere University Business School (MUBS) principal Prof. Waswa Balunywa are the only Ugandans, according to Ministry of Gender, to be recognized with the “Distinguished Order of the Source of the Nile Class One” an accolade he received on May 1, as the nation celebrated Labour Day in Namutumba District.

Dr Bigirimana was given the exceptional award along with Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Principal Prof Wasswa J Balunywa. These two Ugandans have contributed enormously to the social and economic transformation, shaping the moral fabric of the nation, impacting on women and the elderly in their different cycles of services.

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What makes the Order of the Source of the Nile medal exceptional?

The origin of the accolade can be traced from the Kingdom of Egypt. This medal known as Kiladat El Nil was established in 1915 and was one of the Kingdom of Egypt’s principal orders until the monarchy was abolished in 1953. It was then reconstituted as the Republic of Egypt’s highest state honor. At the time, the King of Egypt -Sultan Hussein Kamel ordered that only the persons had rendered useful service to the country deserved the accolade. On his directives, the award was given to British officers and officials serving in Egypt, as well as distinguished Egyptian citizens.

By then the award had five categories/ classes

Grand Cordon: Badge worn from a sash over the right shoulder, with a star on the left chest.

Grand Officer: Badge worn around the neck, with a smaller star on the left chest.

Commander: Badge worn around the neck.

Officer: Badge worn on the left chest from a ribbon bearing a rosette.

Knight: Badge worn on the left chest from a plain ribbon.

Here in Uganda, Bigirimana and Balunywa received class one which can be equated to Grand Cordon.

After Egypt became a republic in 1953 the Order of the Source of the Nile was reconstituted to serve as Egypt’s highest state honor. It now consists of:

Collar: worn by the President of the Republic and may be granted to other Heads of State.

Grand Cordon: awarded for exceptional services to the nation.

It remains a public secret that Uganda and Egypt share River Nile, a huge resource that had economically impacted on the two nations in terms of generating electricity and supporting commercial agriculture through irrigation. Like River Nile, Bigirimana has also irrigated many lives during his extra-ordinary service as Permanent Secretary and the evidence is everywhere.

Who is Bigirimana?
He was born in Kisoro District on March 22, 1958. Pius Bigirimana is a senior civil servant in the Government of Uganda. He, presently, is the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Judiciary of Uganda, one of the three Constitutionally-mandated arms of Government besides the Executive and Legislature. His employment in Uganda’s Civil Service has spanned 30 years, to date. He has risen from the junior ranks to his current role as a Permanent Secretary (the highest non-political position of Uganda’s Civil Service) which he has held since 1984.

Over the years, Bigirimana has built a solid reputation as a transformative thinker and leader who is performance oriented with unique perspectives on assessing not only the outputs but also the outcomes and impact. He believes that Government interventions to solve challenges encountered by the citizenry are not an end in themselves. The outcomes (evidenced by higher productivity and improved livelihood) as well as impact (evidenced by contribution to national development) must be synergized in a 360-degree loop back system. Such a system ensures value-for-money and visible/demonstrable change in the quality of life of the populace underscored by their active contribution to national development.

President Museveni poses for a photo with medalists Bigirimana and Prof Balunywa
Bigirimana has been a key player in the conceptualization, innovation, implementation and evaluation of a number of Government of Uganda initiatives prominent among them include but not limited to the following:


Spearheaded the Development of a Memorandum of Understanding between Government of Uganda and Development Partners to support the Public Service Reform Programme. He was pivotal in the high Level Stakeholder engagement that attracted funding for the construction of National Archives Centre and Civil Service College, Jinja


Spearheaded the revival and developed a long term Institutional arrangements for Global Fund and GAVI, An institutional mechanisms developed which assured Global Fund smooth flow, utilization and accountability of Global funds. This followed previous mismanagement of the funds at the Ministry of Health which had led to the suspension of the fund.


He was a key player in the development and implementation of Peace Recovery and Development Programme (PRDP) Post War Economic Recovery and Resettlement Plan with Infrastructure Development. This was implemented alongside Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) which was one of the best performing project in the country with over 98% performance rate in terms of absorption and accountability.

Development of Government Assessment Tool referred to as the Uganda Annual Government Performance Review Mechanism Commonly referred to as the Traffic Light System that facilitates evaluation of the performance of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, semiannually and annually against set targets


Conceptualized the Youth Livelihood Programme; A five year Programme that saw the empowerment of up to 250,000 individual Youth in various Enterprises some of which were in value addition. This reduced unemployment ratio, stimulated local creativity and enriched vocational skills

Spearheaded the development of Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme; A Revolving Women Entrepreneurship Programme Fund that reached close to 180,000 individual women in five years. It economically empowered women through self-reliant enterprises.


Guided the development of Green Jobs Programme which leads to the establishment of Songhai Model Organic Production System that is Integrated Nature from Primary production to Secondary and Tertiary


Spearheaded the Construction of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Buildings Turnkey Buildings to save Government rent of about Shs.6bn annually.


Supported the procurement of Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) This is a system meant to automate the Case Management process in the Courts from e-filing to archival including online services to citizens. Focus is on expedited delivery of Justice and minimizing of corruption.

Supported the roll out of Video Conferencing in seven High Courts and Prisons Video Conferencing facilities introduced in Buganda Road Court linked to Luzira. Introduced other similar facilities to Arua High Court, Masindi High Court; Mbarara High Court, Jinja High Court and Masaka High Court.

Pius holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from Makerere University – 1984, a Master of Arts degree from University of Manchester – 1991 and a Master of Business Administration degree in Development, Administration and Management from East and Southern African Management Institute – 2010. Pius was also recently (2021) awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Leadership and Management by the Geofidel Institute of Leadership and Management (UK) in collaboration with Stratford University (USA). He has also attended a number of post-graduate Leadership and Management courses twice at Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government – USA, and other specialized higher Institutions of learning like the University of Manchester in the UK. He is a sought-after speaker both in and outside of Uganda. He has spoken at the United Nations Evaluation Symposium in New York and a number of International conferences including the High Level London Symposium Panel on Ending World Poverty – 2010.

He is also the author of six books; (i) Abundance Mentality, (ii) From Tears to Cheers, (iii) Corruption: A Tale of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing and (iv) Youth Livelihood Programme for the Developing World (v) Corona Lockdown Chronicles (vi) Unchained: A public servant with private sector mindset.

Charity Engagement
He is a passionate believer in charity and through the Clare Nsenga Foundation operates a not-for-profit Health Centre Three in Southern Uganda, Kyanika, Kisoro District bordering DR Congo and Rwanda. This Health Centre treats up to 12,000 patients annually at highly subsidized rates. He has also helped to construct St Peters Church Katarara, Katarara Primary School and Chahi Seed Secondary School.

Pius is married to Elizabeth Bigirimana with whom they live in Kampala, Uganda. They have children and grandchildren.

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