Poverty in Uganda: North, East Lag Behind

1814 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, said the report is timely because it will inform policies and actions moving forward.

The latest World Bank report on poverty in Uganda reveal that central and western Uganda are miles ahead of eastern and northern regions. The Uganda Poverty Assessment Report 2016 assessed poverty rates and dynamics in Uganda between 2006 and 2013.

Titled "Farms, cities and good fortune: Assessing poverty reduction in Uganda from 2006 to 2013", the report says although in the last two decades Uganda recorded impressive rates of poverty reduction, from 58 percent to the current 19.7 percent, the rate of poverty reduction between 2006 and 2016 was slower.

The report says much of the reduction in poverty was in monetary terms but not much was achieved in other dimensions like infant mortality, malnutrition especially in children, and access to basic services, electricity and proper sanitation. The report adds that while this scenario is national, the situation is much worse in northern and eastern Uganda, compared to western and central regions.

For instance, while the national poverty rate is 19.7 percent, in northern Uganda the poverty rate is 43 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in central. In terms of concentration of poor people, the report reveals that the North and East harbor 83 percent of the country's total poor, as well as the majority of poor households, hence the need to direct efforts and resources to both regions.

In her welcome remarks at the launch of the report in Kampala, the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, Christina Malmberg Calvo, said Uganda still has unfinished business in the fight against poverty. Calvo said special interest and efforts need to be directed towards northern and eastern Uganda, agriculture, access to basic services and minimizing vulnerability.
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Calvo said she hopes the report will stimulate debate on actions to be taken to tackle poverty and bridge the regional disparities. Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, said the report is timely because it will inform policies and actions moving forward.
Muhakanizi said the two-decade long war in northern Uganda and some parts of eastern Uganda negated poverty alleviation efforts, but hoped that the forthcoming national poverty assessment by Uganda Bureau of Statistics would give the latest picture.
According to Muhakanizi, it is true that poverty reduction has been uneven, calling for the need to find out those being excluded with a view of redirecting interventions.
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David Bahati, the State Minister for Planning, said fighting poverty should be the responsibility of all.
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The Woman MP for Pader District, also the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Lowila Oketayot, expressed sadness with the glaring inequality between the regions. She called for affirmative action for northern and eastern Uganda.
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Dr. Sarah Sewanyana, the Executive Director of Economic Policy Research Centre, said the report fell short on hard hitting the pertinent structural and political bottlenecks to inequality between central and western regions on the one hand and northern and eastern regions on the other, as well as within the regions themselves.
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Joseph Ebinyu, the Commissioner for Economic Development Policy and Research in the Ministry of Finance, said although northern Uganda is poor, the region has also registered the fastest reduction in poverty in the country over the last 10 years.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."