Poverty, unemployment fuelling crime
Posted Wednesday, October 30 2013 at 01:00
A new report shows that the number of Ugandans trapped in chronic poverty (unable to meet their basic needs) dropped from 26 per cent in 2005 to 11.6 per cent in 2010. This is according to the second chronic poverty report published by the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network, a coalition of Universities and research institutions, in collaboration with the Makerere-based Economic Policy Research Center and Development Research and Training.
The report also showed a significant growth in the middle class, a rise in the proportion of the working poor but unfortunately it missed out on the correlation between the rampant poverty and increased crime rates in our country.
I attended the launch of this report. However, on the night before the launch, thieves had broken into our neighbour’s house and stole a number of household items and car accessories as well as robbing a nearby supermarket. It even puzzled us more because our neighbour has a security guard, in-house dogs and a big gate and the police post is just a few metres away.
When I reflected on the wider sophisticated nature and increasing number of theft cases that occur in our country every day, I came to a number of conclusions.
One, it seems that the prevailing research on poverty tends to shy away from thinking and relating adequately in our context.
For instance, underneath Kampala City is a furry of thieves and criminal gangs with the police even frequently issuing several warnings to that effect.
It is common to see criminals snatching women’s bags and mobile phones on the street. Robbers and iron bar hitmen are terrorising villages. Strangely, thieves steal stuff and resell them to underground street markets like Kisekka and Wandegeya markets and no one seems to ask why!
Second, I think the rampant unemployment and underemployment has made theft more enticing. The few working people seem not to be earning enough money for their demands hence resorting to theft which has legally been sugarcoated to mean corruption.
It is, therefore, clear that although chronic poverty has gone down and the number of working poor increasing, crime rates are on the rise. The root cause lies in increased inequality and social injustice.
George W. Ntambaazi,