Poverty Status Report: Poverty Reduction and the National Development Process

The economic and policy context has changed in many ways since the publication of the last Poverty Status Report in 2005. The release of the 2009/10 household survey brought good news of an acceleration in the reduction of consumption poverty. But more recently, dramatic swings in prices – including of the staple food crops on which the poor depend – have undoubtedly led to corresponding changes in household purchasing power, threatening the progress made.

Against this backdrop, there has been a fundamental shift in Government’s overarching development strategy. The National Development Plan emphases economic growth and structural transformation, but this requires that we pay more attention to the distribution of income and of economic opportunities. The report provides a timely and comprehensive overview of the implications of these changes for the poverty
reduction agenda.

Significant progress has been made. But it is also clear that many of those who have escaped absolute poverty remain highly vulnerable: the report classifies 43 percent of the population as non poor but insecure. The large price risks that households face have been laid bare. Perhaps the most important contribution is made by illustrating the links between this vulnerability and economic transformation.

Convincing evidence is presented that the transformation process is well underway – there has been dramatic growth and diversification of the non-agricultural economy. But households commonly straddle the farm and non-farm sectors, reluctant to specialise in either activity. This is due to the vulnerabilities they face.

We all know that uncertainty deters investment – this has underpinned Government’s emphasis on ensuring macroeconomic stability over the last 20 years. The new evidence in this report (both quantitative and qualitative) illustrates the importance of microeconomic stability – the volatility at the level of the household. Sources of this uncertainty include unpredictable weather, crop and livestock diseases, ill health, price fluctuations, insecure access to land and many other factors.

Just as foreign investors are reluctant to enter the Ugandan market when price or exchange rate uncertainty clouds the expected return, a peasant farmer is unlikely to invest in fertiliser, or adopt a new crop or technology when their risks are so large. As a country, we needed to ensure macroeconomic stability before we were able to scale up public investment under the NDP. This report demonstrates how the same logic applies at the micro level: poor households will not invest in their own productive capabilities until they have sufficient economic stability.

As policy makers we must remember that the uncertainty households face always influences the choices they make. This has implications for almost all policy interventions. Another theme of the report is the equality of opportunity, and the most important opportunity is education. The inequality in primary school completion is revealed to be extremely high. On the whole this does not reflect the supply of education services – which UPE has made much more equal – but the demand from parents. Children born into more vulnerable environments are much less likely to complete primary school.

Vulnerable households find it difficult to make the longterm tradeoffs required to keep their children in school. Primary school dropouts will earn less as adults and their children will be less likely to receive a good education. This vulnerability trap is inequitable, and also undermines economic growth. The less fortunate have talents and capabilities to contribute to Uganda’s transformation that are often squandered.

This understanding sets the stage for more constructive debate and better policies to reduce poverty. I hope that we can move beyond discussions over the poverty line to directly address the vulnerability that households face. We must recognise the profound social and economic transformation that has already occurred – the Ugandan middle class has grown from 1.8 million people in 1992 to over 10 million today. The implications of this change are further-reaching than the purchasing power of an expanded market.

This new class of Ugandans are relatively secure, with the ability to invest in the country’s brighter future. In assisting those who remain vulnerable, it is my hope that we can learn from the experience of Latin America. Deliberate policy measures there – particularly large cash transfer programmes and efforts to expand education opportunities to the most disadvantaged – have successfully addressed deep inequality, with a significant dividend in terms of economic growth.

We should not choose between these types of policies and infrastructure investment – both are necessary components of our development strategy. We require a more secure, forward-looking population to help fund the investment required; while an expanded public works programme could generate significant employment, reducing vulnerability and addressing the infrastructure gap simultaneously.



Governance and Human Rights

Governance and Human Rights

The Governance and Human Rights Program aims at strengthening and nurturing partnerships and communities to advocate for a democracy that serves all citizens in Uganda. The program works for social, economic and political accountability of local and...

Sustainable Livelihoods

Sustainable Livelihoods

The Sustainable Livelihoods Program aims at supporting MOs with skills and knowledge in order to advocate pro-poor and gender sensitive policies through programmes in agriculture, trade, climate change and improved service delivery. The objectives a...

Civil Society Organisation Strengthening

Civil Society Organisation Strengthening

DENIVA has a long term experience in providing capacity building services to CSOs as one of its key mandates. Organizational development interventions ranges from research, proposal development, presentation and facilitation skills; negotiation and n...

Latest Network News

In partnership with GSCSOA to Transform Accountabi...

In partnership with GSCSOA to Transform Accountability and Enhance Impact

Second Right, standing - DENIVA ED at a recent GSCSOA International Conference. CSOs play a critical role in creating just societies and a healthy planet. We work with multiple stakeholders, particularly affected peoples and partners. To be successf...

QuAM Certification improved funding opportunities...

QuAM Certification improved funding opportunities for Kiboga NGO Forum

Vincent Kasiita, Chairperson of Kiboga District NGO Forum (on the left) and Robert Misigi, M&E Officer at Kiboga District NGO Forum (on the right). In front of the head office in Kigoba holding their QuAM Certificate   QuAM Written by Sofie...

DENIVA gets new Executive Director

DENIVA gets new Executive Director

DENIVA is in the process of restructuring and streamlining internal management at the Secretariat. At the end of August 2016, the former Executive Director, Mr. Justus Rugambwa resigned. After a competitive recruitment process for the position of Exe...

Demonstration on MPs tax exception

Demonstration on MPs tax exception

DENIVA members, board members and the Executive Director in front of the DENIVA secretariat in Kampala 25th April 2016, DENIVA and its members undertook a demonstration on MPs committing to avoid taxes on their huge allowances. Around 250 worri...

Kayihura, Onek must resign, activists say

Kayihura, Onek must resign, activists say

Following several cases of police brutality on civilians, activists have asked the Inspector General of Police, the Minister for Internal Affairs and his deputy to resign as the only way to restore public confidence in the police force. Testimonies o...

DENIVA takes lead in adapting to climate change in...

DENIVA takes lead in adapting to climate change in Uganda

DENIVA has taken the lead in encouraging communities to adapt to climate change in Uganda as the country increasingly demonstrates its vulnerability to adverse impacts of human-induced climate change. DENIVA programme officer Susan Nanduddu (right) a...

A Local farmer makes a significant contribution to...

A Local farmer makes a significant contribution to the 2016 elections

It was first when DGF’s partner DENIVA and their member organisation Literacy Action and Development Agency (LADA) came to his community and conducted Voter Education that he realized the importance of voting: Esau Rwamttooma, 35 years old, wen...

DENIVA joins ICT drive for rural communities

DENIVA joins ICT drive for rural communities

DENIVA has joined the ICT empowerment drive to help less-resourceful organisations create a more efficient working environment in their work. The ICT empowerment programme donates computers and builds capacity for organisations. Sharing information a...

Policy Makers, Farmers, Academia and Civil Society...

Policy Makers, Farmers, Academia and Civil Society Meet as Climate Change Impacts Intensify in Uganda

December 12, 2016, The Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development organized a public dialogue on the Uganda National Climate Change Policy that brought together over...

« »

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

YouTube Channel