Is Uganda Better Than Somalia?
You guys might think it's stupid of me to compare the Uganda of today to Somalia, but a little research on Uganda truly reveals dirt far worse than ours. This will also bring to light why the Uganda Solider is in heaven being a so called Peacekeepers in Somalia when one looks at the ugly reality faced in Uganda.Keep in Mind the population in Uganda is 32 Million people. In 1992, Uganda’s population was approximately 16.5 million people and now, it is 32 million.
So, by simple calculation, what exactly is the achievement in poverty reduction if one considers the absolute number of people? Furthermore, notwithstanding the romanticised poverty reduction statistics, the Chronic Poverty Study done in Uganda in 2005 indicated that 7,000,000 people were living under chronic poverty -- failure for a household to have a basic meal in 24 hours!
If this is the situation, then where exactly has poverty reduction taken place? It should be re-iterated that our mothers or any ordinary person in Uganda is neither interested in high GDP growth or statistical poverty reduction. People are concerned with whether their children had breakfast before going to school; if they had lunch; or can afford treatment in the current expensive private health clinics, since most public health facilities neither have drugs nor qualified health workers.
Similarly, expectant mothers are concerned with whether they can find qualified and welcoming midwives where they can safely deliver, while farmers are concerned about the very low prices for their produce given the currently impassable community and feeder roads which the middle men exploit to their advantage. If those elements are absent, then any talk or statistic on economic growth or poverty reduction will be meaningless.
People do not eat statistics, they eat food. Similarly, it is not statistics that treat people; treatment is given by qualified health workers, availability of appropriate drugs etc. Similarly, agricultural produce will have no value unless production and consumption centres are linked via appropriate marketing infrastructure.
UnemploymentRising cost of education amidst high levels of unemployment: It will be recalled that in the recent two decades, education in Uganda has been liberalised. Under this policy, individual parents were relieved of the cost of primary education through Universal Primary Education but the same parents have to meet the full cost of tertiary education whether provided by private or public sector institutions.
This scenario arose from the previous World Bank flawed argument that primary education had the highest utility. Of course, this argument has been disproved as no country has ever transformed because of concentrating on primary education alone. It has now been accepted, though belatedly, that the highest utility of expenditure on education is at tertiary level.
The paradox of Ugandan tertiary training is that most graduates from tertiary institutions fail to secure gainful employment largely due to lack of marketable skills (absence of human capital).
But Ugandans have also been accused of low productivity. Figuratively, it has been asserted that one Kenyan does the work of six Ugandans while one Tanzanian does the work of four Ugandans. If these productivity levels are correct, then how will Ugandans position themselves in the East African Common Market already in operation? This is against the backdrop of households having sold their assets such as land in order to meet the escalating cost of education.
It is positive that UPE is free but remember, primary education is not as expensive as the cost of tertiary training. It is estimated that by 2013, Uganda will have over 10 million unemployed youth.
This situation is not desirable as it breeds redundancy and as the old adage asserts “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
Those who live in Kampala and other urban areas have already tested the dangers arising out of this redundancy-cum unemployment. As Robert McNamara, former American Secretary of Defence and President of the World Bank counselled: “the rural poverty in widely scattered settlements is not as dangerous as the poverty in conglomerated settlements in cities. If cities do not deal effectively with poverty, poverty will deal destructively with cities”.
The counsel from Robert McNamara concurs with Jeffery Sachs (Former Economic Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Anan), who reiterated that: “availing opportunity to gainful employment and improved household income constitutes the road to achieving sustainable peace and security for all”.
High corruption rate Corruption and impunity in public sector: It has been said every now and then that every year, Uganda loses Shs600 billion in procurement related malpractices. This is half of the entire budget of Ministry of Education and Sports in the current Financial Year.The ordinary Ugandan considers a service received from any public office as genuine only to the extent to which one has paid a bribe for it (National Integrity Survey, Inspectorate of Government, 2008). This ranges from seeking health care, immigration services, police services etc. Why can’t corruption and impunity be flagged as serious crimes in the same way terrorism has been treated.There should be no difference between a terrorist who massacres 80 Ugandans in one bomb blast and health workers who steal drugs from public health facilities leading to the 16 mothers who die everyday giving birth, or death of 76 out of every 1,000 children born alive per year who die before celebrating their first birth day? Is there anything sadder than watching a mother who dies in an attempt to bring a new life into the world?
This is a very serious matter but which, unfortunately, cannot easily capture space in the public domain as it can’t easily capture newspaper headlines. It is abominable and shameful that a mother should die while giving birth.
In August 2010, I had an opportunity to discuss a paper delivered by Dr Thorahya Ahmed Obeid, Director UNFPA in New York, at a lecture on maternal health. I submitted that having such large numbers of deaths of mothers while bringing new lives is totally unacceptable.
Salary discriminationLow salary and discriminatory remuneration across the public sector: One of the thorny issues that continue to discount public service delivery is the incentive structure (the issue of poor pay) of public servants. Secondly, there is discrimination in pay which characteristically breeds disgruntlement among public servants.A graduate medical doctor is paid Shs500,000 ($198) as a starting salary (U4) while a member of Parliament earns a monthly salary of Shs14,500,000. $5,798) On top of that, a new MP is entitled to a very soft Shs60,000,000 car loan. ($23,999) Practically, this means that a university medical graduate will work for 10 years without buying food or even vaseline in case of ladies in order to buy the same car.
On the other hand, a receptionist/driver in many public sector agencies earns on average Shs1,500,000 ($600) which is 300per cent what the poor medical graduate earns. Remember this doctor has to treat 33,000 Ugandans given the current Doctor: Population ratio. Would it be fair then to complain about the absence of doctors and other health workers in the public facilities?
Do we want our medical graduates to abandon practicing medicine and become drivers or receptionists in these “juicy” public sector agencies?
Without sounding overly pedantic, the incentive structure in Uganda may explain the apparent productivity ratios between Uganda and the East African countries as already explained.
Consider this: a lecturer in Makerere University earns Shs900,000 per month ($357) while the same lecturer at the University of Nairobi earns an equivalent of Shs6,000,000. ($2,384)
Is it therefore surprising that the productivity ratio between the two should be 1:6? Even this modest salary in public universities was reached after a series of eight strikes in 15 years!Teach responsibilityLack of a national value system: Uganda is now 48 years old. One major assumption is that a 48-year-old person is not only wise but also responsible and cuts the stature of a senior citizen who should promote unity, peace, stability and development. However, for Uganda’s case, these virtues seem nonexistent
. As one crisscrosses the various regions of the country, people are still “captive” to their ethnicity. People pride in being Basoga, Baganda, Batooro, Acholi, etc.It is rare to meet someone who is proud of being a Ugandan.
This ethnic nationalism has been worsened by decentralisation because under this policy, (which should have been a very good policy for governance and service delivery), a person is born in Kisoro, goes to schools there, and is employed by Kisoro District Service Commission after completion of education. Remember this person cannot be transferred to another district.
Now, would it be realistic to expect such a person to appreciate the Bududa landslide or a problem in Nwoya or Zombo districts. It won’t be easy because the person is extremely local and parochial. The writing is clear on the wall for all the presidential candidates to see.
Prof. Nuwagaba (PhD) is an international development email@example.com://ekimeeza.blogspot.com/2010/11/el ... ganda.html