Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa, roughly three times the size of Ireland. Most people live in rural areas and make their living from agriculture. Although Uganda has had consistently high economic growth rates and a strong record in the response to HIV and AIDS, it has struggled to ensure that all its citizens benefit equally. Ireland works with the Ugandan Government and a range of non-governmental organisations supporting programmes that ensure children can go to school and get a good education, that the most vulnerable communities are supported, that citizens have a greater say in how their country is run and that systems of accountability function effectively.
Uganda at a glance
|Proportion of people living on less than $ 1.25 a day||38%|
|Ranking on UN Human Development Index 2011||161 out of 187 countries|
|Partner Country since||1994|
Ireland and Uganda
We opened our Embassy in Uganda in 1994, when we established our official aid programme. Since then, Irish Aid has worked with a variety of partner organisations including government institutions, UN agencies, international research institutions and aid agencies to deliver on our development objectives in Uganda.
We have set out these objectives in our Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2010 – 2014 (CSP) (PDF, 868kb), which is informed by the Ugandan Government’s own National Development Plan (PDF, 7.82mb) as well as by our commitment to reducing poverty for the most vulnerable people and communities in Uganda.
Due to the recent misappropriation of Irish Aid funding of 4 million earmarked for Northern Uganda in November 2012 ,we have suspended all Irish Aid funding through government systems totalling €16 million. This suspension will remain in place until the misappropriated funds are returned and we are fully confident that the Government of Uganda has strengthened its internal financial controls and acted against all officials implicated in the fraud. Our support to non government partners in 2012 is not affected by this suspension
As well as providing assistance through our bilateral aid programme, we support the work of local and international aid agencies and missionary organisations in Uganda through our civil society funding schemes .
We support private sector development initiatives, such as Traidlinks, which deepen the trade and investment links between Uganda and Ireland in ways that benefits both countries.
And a number of research and learning partnerships between higher education institutions in Ireland and Uganda are supported through the Programme of Strategic Co-operation .
Uganda gained its independence from Britain in 1962 but went on to experience a long period of hardship under the oppressive regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote before take-over of Government in 1986 by President Yoweri Museveni. President Museveni was re-elected for a fourth time in 2011, the first being in 1996.
Politically, Uganda is relatively stable. Its new ninth Parliament and a free press have both shown themselves willing to hold the Government to account for its policies and decisions. And the fighting that had plagued northern Uganda is now largely over, although the country remains vulnerable to civil unrest, human rights issues and corruption.
There has been a general improvement in the observance of human rights, access to justice, security of people and property, and adherence to the rule of law and due process. This can be attributed in some way to improvements in the functioning of the legal system in Uganda.
In particular, the use of the sector-wide strategy, the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS), has helped decentralise the delivery of justice and has led to the establishment of codes of conduct and performance standards for legal sector personnel. Despite these improvements, factors such as the huge case backlog, lack of necessary training for legal personnel, legislative bottlenecks and poverty itself significantly limit access to justice in Uganda.
Uganda has made good progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are closely aligned with its National Development Plan (PDF, 7.82mb). This Plan focuses on growing the country’s economy and increasing employment as well as ensuring that people have the services they need to be healthy, educated and productive.
Uganda’s economy continues to outperform other countries in the region. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is currently around 3.2% with the services sector the main driver of economic growth.
Agriculture is the country’s main source of income with 66% of Uganda’s working age population deriving its income from farming. Uganda’s major exports are all agro-based; with coffee as the leading export commodity. Contribution of the agriculture sector to growth and development continues to be inhibited by low levels of public investment, limited mechanisation and unfavourable land use policies.
The country is rich in natural resources such as cobalt and copper. And the recent discovery of oil, which could yield between US$2 and US$5 billion in additional revenues per year, has the potential to help Uganda achieve its goal of becoming a Middle Income Country.
Despite its impressive economic growth, Uganda is ranked 161 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index (Ireland is currently ranked seven). More than 8.5 million Ugandans still live in poverty. One of the poorest regions in Uganda is the Karamoja region in the north east of the country where 75% of the population is classified as poor. Years of armed conflict, and the effects of climate change have led to chronic poverty and food insecurity.
Gender-based violence is a persistent problem in Uganda, in spite of legislation that has attempted to address the issue. Ugandan women are also at high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, although improvements have been made in under-five mortality rates. Uganda also has a serious shortage of trained health workers, which is affecting the Government’s ability to improve health services.
In spite of these challenges, progress has been made in other areas. There are almost 5 million more pupils in primary schools today compared to 1997, even more impressive considering more than half the population is below the age of 15 years.
Life expectancy has increased from 45 years in 2003 to 54 years in 2011. And the country has seen a significant drop in the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate, which is currently at 7.3% compared to 18% in the 1990s. However, Uganda now needs to consolidate the gains it has made in reducing HIV prevalence. Recent trends are a cause for concern. The disease accounts for one third of all adult deaths and over half of all deaths among children under the age of five.
In Uganda, Irish Aid works in support of the Ugandan Government objectives to reduce the poverty and vulnerability of its people by ensuring that they are healthy, educated, and able to achieve their full potential. In doing so we engage with a variety of partners at national and local level and we focus on delivering results for poor men and women in the following areas:
A focus on the most vulnerable communities in Karamoja
Chronic poverty is a reality for many people living in Karamoja, a region which is frequently subject to drought and hunger. Through support for the Government’s Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for northern Uganda, we are supporting poor communities in a number of ways. Regular, modest cash payments are made to 3,500 of the most vulnerable and marginalised households, thereby preventing families from falling further into poverty.
We are financing a major school building programme in Karamoja. We also provided support for the secondary education of over 1,300 students in the Acholi and Karamoja regions and 25 university scholarships per year for students from the poorest families to continue their education, 65% of which go to girls.
We are also supporting an innovative programme that contributes to the economic empowerment of communities through the harvesting of ‘gum arabica’. This natural gum, made from the hardened sap of the acacia tree, is used to make anything from ink and shoe polish to soft drinks and cosmetics. There are links between these communities and Irish businesses, with plans agreed to increase production in the coming years. This means predictable and fair returns for the local communities.
Ensuring a better education for girls and boys
At national level, we support the Ministry of Education to deliver on the national education strategy with a focus on improving teacher training, helping children to master basic literacy, numeracy and life skills.
As more children complete primary education, there is a need to ensure that they can continue to post-primary level. We are supporting curriculum reform, the teaching of science and mathematics at secondary level and the rehabilitation of secondary schools.
Responding to HIV and AIDS
In response to the worrying recent trends, which show a resurgence of the disease, we and our development partners are supporting the implementation of a harmonised HIV prevention programme. This programme aims to increase access to quality prevention services for the most vulnerable. In addition, we are assisting the 11 UN agencies that make up the Joint UN Team on AIDS to deliver the single Joint UN Programme of Support on AIDS.
Our support to civil society organisations in Uganda aims to scale up prevention activities and improve access to services for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Increasing access to justice for poor and vulnerable people
To ensure that poor and vulnerable people have access to justice, we are supporting Uganda’s key justice, law and order institutions (police, prisons, judiciary and Human Rights Commission). This has resulted in more people getting legal aid and less time being spent on remand. An element of the Justice and Law Sector programme is a joint training initiative involving the Garda Síochána and the UK/Police Service of Northern Ireland working with the Ugandan police (UPF). The main focus of Irish support is in the area of community policing, and strengthening the management capacity of the Ugandan Police Force.
Responding to gender-based violence
We are strengthening our approach to prevention and response programmes, working through local government and civil society organisations, focusing on regions which have the highest prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country. In collaboration with other development partners, we are promoting and advocating for the development and implementation of a national GBV strategy.
We support a programme to deepen democracy in Uganda and provide assistance to a number of key civil society partners with a focus on human rights and accountability issues. In addition, over 90,000 local government officials have been trained in financial management through a reform programme that will help to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability within central and local governments.
Uganda’s discovery of oil has the potential to lift the country out of poverty. We are exploring ways that the energy sector in Uganda can become more transparent so that the revenues from oil are spent effectively and for the benefit of the people.
Increasing economic opportunities
Growing the country’s economy is an important element of the Ugandan National Development Plan. Through our support for Traidlinks, an Irish non-profit organization, we are helping small and medium-sized enterprises to develop their business and identify regional market opportunities.
How we spend our budget
The five year Uganda Country Strategy 2010 – 2014 planned to provide in the region €33 million per year, subject to availability of budget. We spent €16.8 million in support of our development programmes in 2012. This represesnts a reduction of approximately €16 million due to the recent Government decision to suspend all Irish Aid funding though government systems in Uganda (see Summary of Partner Country Expenditure by Sector - Appendix 10, Irish Aid Annual Report 2012 (PDF)).
At national level, Uganda has made significant progress in the following areas:
- The percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 dollars per day has reduced significantly from 51% in 2006 to 28% in 2011.
- Primary education enrolment rates have tripled from about 2.7 million in 1997 to about 8.3 million in 2011.
- The proportion of children completing primary school has increased from 54% in 2010 to 67% in 2011/12.
- There has been an increase in satisfaction among the citizens of Uganda with how democracy works in Uganda from 37% in 2008 to 53% in 2011.
- 70% of rural areas can now access justice institutions compared to 65% in 2007.
How we have helped
Irish Aid has played its part in the progress made by Uganda:
- 30,000 vulnerable and marginalised people have benefited from cash transfers under the National Social Protection Programme.
- 53,000 orphans and vulnerable children were provided with care and support
- 464,880 people have received assistance for individual legal aid and more than 3 million people have benefitted from general legal outreach activities.
- Over 1,300 disadvantaged students were supported to attend secondary school through bursaries and the rehabilitation of 11 secondary schools and 2 teacher training colleges in Karamoja.
- Pre-election training for female political aspirants resulted in 1,500 out of 2,000 Ugandan female candidates getting elected at local, district and national level.
- 105 members of the Uganda Police Force received training by An Garda Síochána under a ‘Community Policing Programme. They in turn trained 600 police officers in community policing methods.
Download the Irish Aid Country Strategy Paper
Irish Aid’s Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2010 – 2014 (PDF, 868kb) sets out how we respond to the changing development environment in Uganda.