Poverty levels increasing despite interventions

Patrick K. Kajuma

What you need to know:

  • Four in every 10 households in urban areas are food poor, compared to two in every 10 households living in the rural areas (UNHS 2019/20).

Today income inequality is also very rampant and, as measured by the Gini coefficient, has also remained stagnant at 0.41 over the nine years. The Gini coefficient uses a scale of 0 to 1; zero being an equal income distribution and 1 denoting perfect income inequality. Uganda’s measure shows a wide income gap between the poor and the rich which also breeds goose pimples. Furthermore, the UNHS 2016-2019 indicated that three in every 10 households from UNHS 2016-2019 don’t consume sufficient quantities of food with the proper nutrient content.

Four in every 10 households in urban areas are food poor, compared to two in every 10 households living in the rural areas (UNHS 2019/20). Sub-regions of Bukedi, Karamoja and Acholi have the highest proportion of food poor households with Acholi having the sharpest increase in food poverty by 29 percent.

In the first half of 2021, Uganda’s Finance Ministry reported that 28 percent of Ugandans were poor. In other words, Uganda’s poverty rate has increased 10 percent points yet the international Sustainable development goals to which Uganda is a signatory require an end to poverty and all its forms everywhere in the world by 2030 hence calling for global awareness and local action on poverty. It further indicates the sustainable management of the environment as a prerequisite for socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The natural environment supplies ecosystem goods and services that provide income, support job creation, poverty alleviation, contribute to safety nets and reduce inequity. 

Today, it can be said that climate change and exposure to natural disasters threaten to derail efforts to eradicate poverty. A great bulk of Uganda’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens live in disaster prone areas and these numbers have escalated. In as far as the environment is concerned, it was envisaged in the protocol that by 2030, all countries should have built resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations, reduced their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events plus other economic, social and environmental shocks/disasters. But this is not what we see in Uganda. 

For instance in 2020 alone, Uganda lost 73.6kha of tree cover, equivalent to 36.0Mt of CO₂ emissions. According to the FAO report, between 1990 and 2010, Uganda lost an average of 88,150 ha per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Uganda lost 37.1 percent of its forest cover or around 1,763,000 ha. The wetlands have also been severely and extensively degraded.

Today, we are facing an existential national nature crisis. Conserving Uganda’s biodiversity is crucial to sustaining all life on Earth, including our own. In response to this crisis, the government must make tangible and actual interventions of providing knowledge and capacity to ensure that policy, legal and planning frameworks are in place at the right time and are effectively implemented to improve the socio-economic situation in the country and end poverty.

We have been made to believe that the parish model is the only journey that shall bring the poverty level down to the third national development III plan’s target of 18.5 percent, and income inequality to 0.37. Fellow Ugandans, would we put our faith in the parish development model as it seems a magic/golden bullet that Uganda has been yearning for to end the skyrocketing poverty levels. But again government should not rush into releasing the parish development implementation funds (the proposed 17m) to different parish groups because of the failure of similar development and post recovery plans that did not achieve much in the past like the structural adjustment programs, poverty eradication action plan, plan for the modernization of agriculture, Northern Uganda social action plan, the emyooga (an enterprises funding initiative) and operation wealth creation (a farm input distribution drive) until there has been 100 percent assurance on the side of government on proper execution systems and mandate in place plus, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Otherwise one key constraint we see lies in the physical implementer’s capacity to handle and manage budget matters, an issue not tested with them before and also most of them are too fresh from colleges and universities with no marked administration and financial experience.

Mr Patrick Kajuma Kagaba MPA Student, UMI


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