New US study labels Uganda fragile state  

Police fire brigade, Redcross and volunteers put out fire after a bomb explosion on Parliament Avenue in Kampala on November 16, 2021. PHOTO/DAVIDLUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The major indicators on which the fragility and level of stability are measured include: security; factionalism among the elite; group grievances in the societies; economic decline; and extent of human flight and brain drain.

The Fragile States index (FSI), an annual ranking of 179 countries based on the pressures that contribute to their stability or lack of, has listed Uganda among 19 countries whose stability is considered fragile.
The 2022 FSI was compiled by the Fund for Peace (FFP), a Washington-based non-government organisation (NGO). The index lists the DR Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe along with Uganda among the fragile states. Taken together, Africa contributes 14 of the 19 fragile countries as per the index.

Mr Henry Okello Oryem, the junior Foreign Affairs minister, has, however, dismissed the contents of the report that focuses on addressing issues of violent conflict, state fragility, security and human rights. 
While the report’s conclusions are based on information and developments that occurred between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, Mr Oryem described its contents as contradictory.
“If Uganda is as fragile as they claim, then what is the situation in South Sudan? What is the situation in Sudan proper? In DRC where there is a civil war? Burundi where there is civil war? You see the contradiction?” Mr Oryem told Saturday Monitor.

Scores for every country are arrived at based on an assessment of their standing in 12 key political, social and economic indicators and more than 100 sub indicators.
The major indicators on which the fragility and level of stability are measured include: security; factionalism among the elite; group grievances in the societies; economic decline; uneven economic development; and extent of human flight and brain drain.

Other key considerations include: legitimacy of the state; provision of public and social services; human rights and the rule of law; demographic indicators; pressures caused by the presence of refugees and internally displaced persons; and influence of external players in matters of the state.
Standings in those key indicators are arrived at based on a system that assesses the performance of each country on a scale of one to 10.
“The FSI scores should be interpreted with the understanding that the lower the score, the better. Therefore, a reduced score indicates an improvement and greater relative stability, just as a higher score indicates greater instability” the report reads in part.

The 2022 FSI rates Uganda to have scored 8.9 points of 10 in the area of security and cohesiveness.
The assessment took into consideration factors such as whether there are threats posed by, among other things, terrorism attacks in form of bombings and attacks.
Whereas the report does not make mention of any specific attacks, it is worth noting that Kampala was rocked by a triple suicide bombing that left at least seven people dead and scores injured last November. The attack was blamed on rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has since been deployed in the eastern DRC to back up Congolese forces fighting the ADF.
The security indicator also takes into consideration factors such as the citizens’ trust in the security apparatus and whether the military, police and other security organisations are not involved in terrorising the Opposition politicians and sections of the citizenry that are sympathetic to the Opposition.

The index also examines whether a “deep state consisting of secret intelligence units or other irregular security outfits that serve the interests of a political leader or clique.”
In February, the United States issued a statement in Kampala, citing “recurring credible accounts” of forced disappearances and torture by the security forces which “reflect poorly” on the government. 
It called on Kampala to protect the rights of Ugandans and bring to account the perpetrators of the abuses.

Also taken into consideration while conducting the assessment are evidence of factionalism and fragmentation of state institutions along ethnic or religious lines or the absence of a leadership that is widely accepted as representing the entire citizenry.
This also takes into consideration the credibility of electoral processes. It also factors in issues such as whether political reconciliation has been initiated and whether there are strong feelings of national identity or nationalism.

Whereas the report did not make specific mention of them, tribalism and sectarianism have been major talking points in the country. Hours after the Electoral Commission (EC) declared him winner of the January 14, 2021 presidential elections, President Museveni delivered a 91-minute televised address from his country-home in Rwakitura, during which he accused the elite of promoting the two.
“The line of the elite. First of all on sectarianism, they are always like this, wishy washy. Why do you push tribalism? Why do you push religious sectarianism? How will they help the people? How will they help the country? People who do not know what they are saying or are openly sectarian. Either not firm or openly sectarian. That is a betrayal by the elite,” Mr Museveni noted.
Some of the other questions that are raised include whether any particular group is deemed to be in control of a majority of resources and whether the government adequately distributes wealth.

There are accusations of uneven distribution of resources depending on patronage. Just last week, Ms Christine Kaaya Nakimwero—the Kiboga District MP, who is also the Shadow minister for Water and Environment, accused Mr Museveni’s government of poor handling of resources.
“We have watched Mr Museveni and the way he handles the natural resources of this country and it is not only the natural resources, but also other resources,” she said, adding: “How he has been managing the resources is not okay. We have observed this on a number of programmes. We are not certain of how best the resources from our oil as a natural resource will be shared equally.”
Uganda, according to the FSI, scored 9.2 of 10 in that regard.

Other indicators that were taken into consideration include whether there are divisions based on social or political characteristics, an area in which Uganda scored 7.9 out of 10; the economic decline indicator, which looked at among others income per capita, unemployment, inflation, productivity, debt, poverty levels, or business failures. Uganda scored 6.4 out of 10 in that indicator.
Also taken into consideration during the assessment was the issue of uneven economic development where Uganda scored 7.4 out of 10; impact of human flight and braindrain on the economy where Uganda scored 6.2 out of 10; state legitimacy, which looks at the population’s level of confidence in state institutions and processes where the country scored 8.5 out of 10 points.
Also taken into consideration was the public service indicator, which looked at among other things delivery of social services. Uganda scored 8.3 points out of 10.

The country scored 7.1 out of 10 points in the human rights and rule of law. On this, the FSI looked at among other things the relation between the state and the citizenry as far as protection and observation of human rights and freedoms is concerned.
The demographic pressures indicator, which takes into consideration the pressures brought to bear on the country on account of food supply, access to safe water and other life sustaining resources was also taken into consideration. Uganda was rated to have scored 6.6 points.
The other indicator that was taken into consideration was the refugees and internally displaced persons indicator—which looks at the pressure brought to bear on a country by the forced displacement or influx of refugee—where Uganda scored 8.9 points, a score which Mr Oryem dismisses.

“That is rubbish. Otherwise, we would not be the country that attracts the highest number of refugees. Which country is considered an oasis for stability and security for refugees? It is Uganda. Why would refugees flock to a country, which is so fragile that it is falling apart?” he asked.
The external interventions indicator, which looks at the influence of external actors in the function of the state, saw Uganda score seven points. The FSI concluded that Uganda had accumulated a score of 92.1 points. This signifies a slight improvement of 0.8 points compared to the FSI of 2021. The score would suggest that the country is not yet out of the woods, a conclusion which Mr Oryem does not agree with.
“These (FFP) are detractors. Uganda we will not lose sleep over it (FSI),” Mr Oryem said.

Uganda’s scorecard
Security & cohesiveness: 8.9/10
Factionalism & fragmentation: 7.9/10
Divisions based on social or political characteristics: 7.9/10
Economic decline: 6.4/10
Uneven economic development: 7.4/10
Human flight and brain drain: 6.2/10
Confidence in state institutions: 8.5/10
Social services delivery: 8.3/10
Human rights & rule of law: 7.1/10
Demographic pressures: 6.6/10
IDP pressures: 8.9/10
External interventions: 7/10


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