Introduction: My Ugandan Experience
The following paper was inspired by my journey to Kampala, Uganda during the Summer of 1998. While I only visited Uganda for about a month, my experience was overwhelming and left me with lingering thoughts and questions about the transitions occurring in Uganda. During my stay, I worked on a HIV/AIDS Perinatal study that explores the use of pharmaceuticals to prevent vertical transmission of the virus. My primary role on this project was to revitalize a mother-loan program that in some ways, models the premise set up by the Grameen bank: the HIV/AIDS program loans study mothers money to help them start. Called Income Generating Activities (IGAs), these programs hope to help women to eventually become self-sufficient. To work on my project, I was fortunate enough to have transportation around the city of Kampala to visit other more well-established IGA organizations. Throughout my month stay, I was excited that organizations were finally trying to help developing nations learn how to improve their situations through skill and trade development rather than just donating money that would, as they say in Uganda, be a "hand-to-mouth" donation.
When I returned home to the U.S., however, I had other thoughts of what these programs really meant. What did it mean to give small amounts of money to women for them to start their own business? What did their families and husbands think? What does it mean to be self-sufficient in a country like Uganda that has an exponential debt? Will Uganda ever progress to an industrialized nation? What does progress mean, anyway? I began to realize that these small IGAs were only part of the picture. This paper is my attempt to understand Uganda’s situation now, where it may go and how it will get there. This paper is my effort to explore these questions of why Uganda--while on the surface seems to be improving--may really be stuck in transition.
Stuck in Transition: What does it mean?
Uganda has experienced much change in the past several decades. Idi Amin’s dictatorship ruined the countries’ economy in the 1970s, but since Museveni’s takeover in 1986, Uganda’s economy improved from a decade of decline and loss to a current level of GDP growth at an estimated 6 percent (UN, 1990). UNICEF (1998) reports that the infant mortality rate (under 1 year of age), while it is still substantial, has fallen from 133/1000 in 1960 to 88/1000 in 1996. The population growth rate has slightly declined; Uganda now has access to the internet. Much change has and continues to occur in Uganda. However, despite the immense change that has occurred throughout the country, Uganda has much more work to do. It seems that
The reports of improvement in Uganda are in many cases, indeed true. As I sorted through the data however, it seemed that the country faced challenges immense in size and complexity. Compounded with my experience this past summer, I began to question whether Uganda ever would progress to the status of the U.S. or other developed nations. I wondered how much Uganda could improve at all. In examining Uganda’s economic, epidemiological, demographic, and educational systems, interfaced with Uganda’s local and global political and cultural climate, Uganda’s future seems limited. It could make changes to improve certain aspects of these sectors, but ultimately, something else inhibited Uganda from lunging forward in transition.
Uganda is stuck in transition. While some improvements have been made, internal and external circumstances may inhibit Uganda from escaping poverty and ever reaching an industrialized state. The point of this paper is to address how power dynamics prevent transitions from occurring. I am using the case of Uganda to demonstrate that in fact, local and global power dynamics restrict growth. This holistic approach is indeed broad and difficult to describe. First, Uganda’s people are at a state of constant cultural warfare. Before and after colonialization, clans fought for land and power. As this struggle continues today, it may prevent the unity that is necessary to improve the overall status of Uganda. Thirdly, global super powers exploitation and aid relief may keep Uganda from ever reaching a debt free state. Using ideas from World Systems Theory, I will argue that global inequality between countries prevents Uganda from ever reaching the status of an industrialized nation. Finally, Uganda is a post-colonial country and bears all the privileges and disadvantages thereof. While improvements have been made, the distribution of the wealth is unequal. The ex-patriot community (the upper class) benefits the most from these improvements.
This paper is structured in three parts. First, to gain an understanding of where Uganda stands today, I will begin by providing an overview of transition patterns in Uganda in economic, epidemiological, demographic, and education sectors. I will briefly describe the current situation and future projections, highlighting problems within each sector. Secondly, this paper will discuss the local and global powers that may inhibit Uganda from improving the status of living for all its people. In essence, it is these powers and inequalities that I see as hindering Uganda’s future development. Finally, I have made an attempt to provide several policy changes that could be used as a catalyst for change in Uganda.
I. Uganda’s Situation
Located in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is a country in transition. Many sectors of the country have undergone some sort of transformation in the past decade. I have selected several of these sectors to highlight, reviewing the past, current and future condition of each. The purpose in mind is to measure the rate of progress, and in some cases to identify subtle problems with the data and projections.
Since British Colonial Rule, Uganda has experienced many problems. The country came to symbolize all the disaster associated with developing countries (Hansen and Twaddle, 1988). After independence from Britain in the 1960s, Africans overall experienced an increase in income as they switched to service and market economy (Hanson and Twaddle, 1991). However, it was long until sub-Saharan Africa experienced considerable economic deterioration (Chikula, 1997). For Uganda, the brief period of progress did not last as export prices declined and civil war began. While the rise and fall of the Ugandan economy could be attributed to many things, the most significant contribution is likely that of t person the most infamous for his extreme violations of human rights, Idi Amin. Amin destroyed the Uganda economy in several ways. He took charge of Uganda by physical, political and social force in 1971. Amin’s most significant contribution to Uganda’s economic plight occurred when Amin destroyed the long-standing relationship with the Indian community (which had existed since 1500 AD). In 1972, he ordered the expulsion of Uganda’s more than 70,000 Asians. Indians were perceived to have controlled much of agriculture and commercial business activity in Uganda. Upon their forced departure, the economy quickly fell. This order resulted in capital shortages, low inventories, incompetence, and restrictive import policies. Ugandans faced shortages of basic commodities such as sugar, soap, bread, milk and salt. Expulsion of Asians also crippled Uganda’s administrative infrastructure.
Besides forcing the main economic contributors in Uganda to leave, Amin’s dictatorship caused constant battles which disabled Uganda’s citizens; they could not focus their energy on agricultural production. By his first year in office, Amin security forces had killed approximately 10,000 Ugandan people (Ofcansky, 1996). Death and economic despair caused a demoralization of the country and a likely lack of desire and opportunity to contribute effort toward the economy. These factors combined snowballed into an overall impoverishment of the country. Amin was thrown out of his own dictatorship in 1979.
Post-Amin governments failed too, causing famine, political violence, and accelerating infractions. One author states about this post-Amin and high inflation period that "human rights violations were by now so widespread that many local people were saying there had been fewer under Amin" (Hansen and Twaddle, 1988). Finally, in 1986 Museveni’s guerrillas (the National Resistance Movement) successfully stormed into Kampala and installed the government that still rules today. Today, Uganda is a country that ‘enjoys’ a moderate level of peace relative to past disruption of the 70’s and 80’s civil war, with only a moderate level of guerrilla war-fare in the North and Far West.
Idi Amin and the post-Amin years left Museveni with one of the poorest countries of the world. The economy had sunk 42% below its level in 1970 while the government expenditure, exports and investment had all fallen to below 10 percent of the GDP. While Museveni began ruling Uganda by force, he was officially elected as the president of the country in 1996 by the first popular election since independence in 1962 (CIA Internet Publications, 1997). Researchers and Ugandans retain hope that Museveni can help to revive and develop Uganda.
After economic despair that lasted over 20 years, improvements have been made. UNICEF (1998) reports that from the time period of 1965-1980, Uganda had a -2.5 percent GNP growth rate while from the 1985-1995 time period, its growth rate improved to +2.7 percent. Table II shows the UN estimate of GDP growth that suggests Uganda will maintain about a 6% growth rate throughout the decade.
Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80 percent of the work force (The World Bank, 1997). Agriculture comprises 55% of the GDP with industry at 12% and services at 33%. Agriculture products include coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava, potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, beef, goat meat, milk and poultry.
Uganda’s major export is coffee (Uganda UN Document, 1990; The World Bank Group, 1997). While the volume of coffee exports increased by 25 percent between 1986 and 1989, the international coffee prices fell, reducing the value of the exports from $US 397 million in 1986 to $US 100 million during the fiscal year 1989/90. As represented in the table below the UN Estimate of Coffee as percent of total exports is not projected to increase, but instead fall throughout the decade.
The World Bank (1997) suggests that this decline is due to Uganda coffee growers who have responded to economic reforms by 1) regaining the positions of the largest coffee grower in the continent; 2) revitalizing the tea industry; 3) the emergence of a small horticulture industry; and 4) growing maize exports to Kenya. Other exports include gold, cotton, coffee, tea, corn and fish. Overall, the UN also estimates that Uganda’s export growth rate will increase in the next decade.
While economic projections look promising, there are at least two main problems. Museveni has done much to improve the state of Uganda, while its debt to other countries is immense; it will take years for Uganda to be economically independent. Oxfam International (1996) suggests that debt service payments for 1996 will amount to $184 million, or more than one third of the government’s revenue. Overall, as the most recent available figure, in 1995 Uganda’s total external debt is about $3.4 billion (CIA internet source, 1997).
Uganda is currently supported by many external organizations, including the World Bank, UNICEF, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Paris Club. These supporters have continued to attempt to reduce debt and have implemented strategies for insuring that debt relief funds get to those who most need it. For example, the World Bank’s program would require that its money meet target budget spending on primary health, basic education, and other priority areas (Oxfam International, 1996). This program, called the International Monetary Fund (IMF), would attempt to increase the amount of debt relief provided in Uganda by 23%. This program would pressure the Ugandan government to "live within its means by balancing its budget, controlling wasteful expenditures and presumably generating enough foreign exchange to repay its ‘development’ loan debts" (Obbo, 1991). The World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm called the International Finance Corporations (IFC) would help to rehabilitate existing assets, infrastructure, agribusiness and tourism. In addition, another World Bank Group called the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency would help to guarantee investment in the mining, manufacturing, telecommunications and agribusiness sectors. Attention would also be given to address issues of clean water, primary school, latrines, basic health care, and vaccination. While these World Bank programs sound promising, criticisms exist.
One criticism of the IMF program suggests that when it was first proposed (late 80’s, early 90’s), Uganda could not wait for its lengthy installation while "just over 60 percent of Uganda’s population--between eleven and thirteen million people are poor" (Oxfam International, 1996). In addition, there is no guarantee that this program will be any different from others; the debt relief may only add to the immense amount of the money that Uganda already owes. In fact, World Resource Data (1996-1997) projects the total debt service to sky-rocket by the end of this decade.
Other criticisms of debt relief programs suggest that there is an unfair and unequal distribution of money throughout Uganda (Mugyenyi, 1991). Even though the World Bank would attempt to insure the money went toward the appropriate sectors, how could it really know Uganda followed the predetermined restrictions? What sort of punishment would be instituted if Uganda failed to comply? The country’s people would only be punished further if a monetary fine was instituted. There is also no set timeline for when the money is to be paid back, or for that matter, when Uganda would have to begin instituting changes. In addition, there is no guarantee that donors will continue to provide funds at current levels so that if Uganda needs another installment of money, who will provide the funds? Researchers suggest that this project discourages domestic and foreign investment (Nabudere, 1988). Instead, the debt relief program seems to encourage a dependency relationship between Uganda and the World Bank. Lastly, Obbo (1991) disagrees with the IMF and other Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP). The author states that these programs fail to include monetary relief in the informal sectors of Uganda, which are run predominately by women. Her concerns and others will by discussed in the policy portion later in the paper.
Uganda has at least one other significant problem. While Agriculture productions have improved significantly over the past decade, this sector makes up the majority of the GDP (55%), the majority of the workforce (86%), and the majority of the exports (99%) (UOL communications, 1997). The reliance on agriculture creates at least two problems. First, Uganda is currently dependent on its environment, and specifically its land, for production and growth. It has been able to increase its production because land is still viable and available. The country has not had to deal with national environmental disasters or as of yet, issues of over use. However, according to an internet source (UOL communications), current environmental issues in Uganda include draining of the wetlands for agricultural use, deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion and poaching. It cannot be long before Uganda overuses and abuses its environment unless change occurs quickly.
Reliance on agricultural may cause not only land overuse, but upon this occurring or if a major disaster does take place, Uganda will lose its primary employment source. Currently, 86% of people rely on agriculture for income. Uganda needs to find ways to diversify its income producing sector. This will not only save the land but it will also save the people from further impoverishment. Policy suggestions for this issue are below.
Measures of Health
Indicators of Uganda’s health status are still far from adequate. However, improvements have been made in the past several decades. For example, UNICEF (1998) reports that in 1960, Uganda’s Infant Mortality Rate was 133 deaths per 1,000 births. Today the IMR is 88 deaths per 1,000 births. As the following world-wide map of IMR demonstrates, certainly Uganda’s IMF is far from the lowest in the World.
Link to Map 1
Uganda’s under-five mortality rankings are again, far from auspicious. Uganda is ranked 30th out of 189 countries for the highest under-five mortality rate. However, from the year 1960 the under-5 mortality rate was 224/1000 to 1980 at 180/1000 deaths and to 1996 at 141/1000, Uganda has made attempts to decrease deaths of 5 year-old children.
Despite improvements, ostensibly Uganda has a lot of work to do in order to improve its standard of health and living. Uganda is still one of the poorest countries in the world, as demonstrated by health indicators. For example, Oxfam International (1996) reports that maternal mortality rates are between 550 and 1,000 death for every 100,000 births. Women living in Kampala are 20 times more likely to die than a woman in Europe or North American; women living in rural areas have a maternal mortality of sixty times that of women in developed countries. Few people live past the age of 50, and in fact the life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world, at 47 for men and 50 for women (Oxfam International, 1996).
Uganda is also still plagued with many infectious diseases. UNICEF (1998) reports that while 96 percent of 1 year-old children are immunized against Tuberculosis, only 68 percent are immunized again Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus, 67 percent are immunized against polio, and 66 percent are immunized again measles (although data on immunizations is often unreliable since it is difficult to keep up-to-date records).
Most of the major causes of death in Uganda are preventable. Malaria is the main killer among adults who are admitted to the hospital, also accounting for almost a third of deaths among 2-4 year olds. Measles, diarrhea, respiratory infections, malnutrition and Guinea Worm infestations are all common causes of illness and death. Access to sanitary water and facilities is also poor. UNICEF (1998) reports that in urban areas, 77 percent of the people have access to clean water where as in rural areas, 41 percent have access. In some rural areas, less than one in four people can access to clean water (Oxfam International, 1996).
One of the biggest epidemiological changes in Uganda in past decades has been the AIDS epidemic. AIDS affects many of whom live in Uganda in some way or another. While the prevalence of HIV has decreased to a small degree, from 30 percent of all pregnant women in Kampala to about 20 percent (Guay, 1998), the social and economic effects of the virus are widespread. Overall, about 1.5 million people are infected with HIV in Uganda (CIA internet source, 1997). In addition, AIDS - related disease, like Tuberculosis, are also on the rise. Table V demonstrates the increase of TB cases.
Uganda has undergone some changes in the past several decades to improve the countries’ health status. However, it does not have money or resources to address the incredible depth of its problems. In addition, many diseases are linked to health behaviors that without social and cultural change, would be hard to alter.
Uganda’s total population, based on 1997 estimates, is 20,604,874 (CIA internet source, 1997). There are 45.08 births and 20.98 deaths per 1,000 people. Ninety-eight percent of the population is under the age of 64 while 50 percent are under the are of 14 (CIA internet source, 1997). Uganda’s growth rate is light decreasing. Table VI demonstrates the UN estimate of population growth decline.
UNICEF data also suggests that the population annual growth rate for 1965-1980 was 3.3%, for 1980-1996 it was lowered to 2.7 %.
It is difficult to know why the population growth rate has decreased, or how to interpret the possible subsequent effects of such a decline. For example, the fertility rate-- according to UNICEF data-- has in fact slightly increased. From 1960, the fertility rate has increased slightly from 6.9 to 7.1 in 1996. I would like to think that this decrease in overall growth is a positive sign suggesting that in many years, Uganda can better deal with its problem for a group of people smaller than other projections show. However, the growth decrease suggested is small. In addition, the root explanation may include the number of deaths attributable to AIDS. These problems are difficult to interpret and while projections are promising, Uganda must deal with its population problems today.
During the colonial period, the British instituted a 4-tier model of private education: 7 years of primary education, 4 years of high school, 2 years of higher education, and a tertiary Institution (2-3 years for a diploma). Education is a privilege in Uganda that many citizens cannot afford. The government, while it acknowledges the need to put money into its schools, has too many constraints to fund all children’s schooling. By the year 2000, the Ugandan Government plans to achieve universal primary education by the year 2000 for all 6-10 year olds. However, in the mean time, education is funded by outside supporters and parents. In 1992-3 school year, 1/3 of all children between the ages of 6-12 were not enrolled in school (Oxfam International, 1996). In addition, 10 percent of those who do enroll in primary school drop out. Gender disparities also exist in who actually attends school. One study found that of the 257 children who dropped out during 1992-1993, 70 percent were girls (Oxfam International, 1996)
Literacy in Uganda is surprising high for a developing nation. Defined as those persons age 15 and over who can read and write, 61.8 percent of the total population in Uganda are literate. Of these estimates, gender differences exist as well. Table VII demonstrates these differences according to World Resources Data.
While this data looks promising, there are questions about what it means to be literate in Uganda. Meaning, the data represented here does not clearly explain what its definition of literate requires and to what extent individuals must know how to read and what to be declared literate.
Certainly Uganda has made some improvement in its overall standard of living. Overwhelmingly, however, Uganda and its supports have much work to do. It may be that in many years, Uganda can overcome its troubles. However, as I have demonstrated in a few instances above, reform is still needed.
II. Local and Global Power Dynamics: the political economy of Uganda
Development theorists and political economists argue that Uganda may need more than monetary relief in order to get past its problems of poverty. Furthermore, Uganda may be unable to progress because of its social, political and cultural climate. It is stuck in the political economy of internal and external conflict. In at least three ways, Uganda must overcome local and global power dynamics in order to break free from poverty and move forward on a path of development.
Internal unrest: political and cultural disruption
Uganda has been and continues to be a country that is politically and culturally unstable. Even before Uganda existed as a country with boundary lines, the pre-colonial era was a time of cultural clan revolts and uprisings. Three major clan groups fought for control over land and power of the area now called Uganda. In 1890, the Buganda-- the clan in which Uganda is named after-- signed a treaty with the British (Ofcansky, 1996). With this treaty, the Bugandan’s agreed to "acknowledge British sovereignty over their kingdom by agreeing to collect and pay taxes to the colonial administration. In exchange, the British preserved Buganda’s traditional ruling hierarchy." In particular, this agreement between the Bugandans and the British gave the Bugandans a ‘special status’ which promoted them as the dominating and ruling clan in the eyes of the protectorate. However, this feeling of Bugandan superiority was not met with acceptance of other clan groups. This unrest between cultural groups and clans still exists; resentment over this treaty and other issues has created a political and cultural climate of unrest.
The current post-colonial world is still one of a multi-cultural and multi-lingual society that continually fails to join forces. Instead, cultural groups fight against each other. Hansen and Twaddle (1988) state that pre-colonial Uganda was "an amalgam of a number of people occupying a particular section of the East African interior and following widely differing political practices at the time of the European colonial patrician at the end of the nineteenth century." These differences exist today but besides cultural and power battles, the people who make up Uganda also have major linguistic differences. Today, Uganda consists of 4 major religions and at least 12 different ethnic groups with specific linguistic differences. With English as the official language, Lugandan, Swahili, Bantu languages (many of which have unique linguistics varying by clan and geographical locations), and Nilotic languages are also spoken.
The impact of cultural hatred and conflict, compounded with complex language barriers, provides one significant explanation for Uganda’s inability to recover from economic and social crisis. Some researchers are concerned that this ethnic hatred will keep Uganda from improving (e.g. Southall, 1988; Nabudere, 1988). They wonder how Uganda will ever improve if ethnic hatred prevents the ability to tackle the international and super power economic constraints impinged upon Uganda and other African countries. Moreover, if Uganda cannot resolve the major cultural disparities within its own country, it may never be able to resolve its problems with poverty.
The constant conflict also leaves Uganda in a state of unrest that provides an open window for destruction and dictatorship. One author states that "it is clear that Uganda’s economic and social development has been seriously affected by the prevalence of dictatorships in the country" (Nabudere, 1988). Idi Amin was one unfortunate example of how rebel groups have taken over and caused much destruction throughout the country. Amin’s atrocious acts will plague the country of Uganda for years to come.
The past decade passed with relative stability (as compared to previous decades) with few exceptions, providing some hope for cultural resolution in the future. However, rebel groups in the Western and Northern parts of Uganda are still active in causing unrest. During my month stay, a boarding school in the western area of Uganda was burned. Most of the children inside died while approximately 100 children were abducted for use of the rebel group. In addition, the month before my arrival to Uganda, two bombs had exploded in downtown Kampala. Conflict between cultural groups in Uganda may never cease as most countries of the world live with racism and inequality. But before Uganda can move forward with stability, some tension must be resolved.
World -wide inequality
Uganda’s economic and overall situation seems to be improving at slow rate of change. The question remains is whether the change is enough to relieve Uganda’s people of an impoverished state. Mealow et al. (1992) suggest that "most economic growth takes place in the already industrialized countries." There are several theories that suggest the interrelationship between countries provides a dynamic that disallows developing or third world nations from ever really reaching an industrialized and poverty-reduced state. Development theorists suggest that there are "deep structural factors might prevent economic progress, and more important that the very international context of modernization might itself be an obstacle" (Chirot and Hall, 1982). In order to understand the status of one country, it is important to understand its relationship to others. For that reason, development theorists have long attempted to explain the disparities between countries around the world (e.g. Wallerstein, 1979; Ward).
To better explain the exploitive relationship between countries, Immanuel Wallerstien developed World Systems Theory. World Systems Theory provides a basis for suggesting that power dynamics and economic dependency does exist between societies. As such, these exploitive politics keep some of the currently so-called developing countries from further developing.
Wallerstein observed that the world-economy had developed into a hegemonic, capitalist order. Core industrialized nations use military and political power to keep exploitive systems in place, forcing peripheral nation-states (developing countries) to provide raw material and sometimes cheap labor power/peripheral colonies (Ward). The developing, periphery nations work for the core nations in such a way that the workers are paid for their work. This is a seemingly equal relationship in that a fee is provided for a service, but one in which none of the labor goes toward development of the country; instead the labor helps to produce commodities for sale and profit in core nation. A socioeconomic relationship developed such that a dependent development and debt dependency was created between First World and Third World nations. Eventually, with the growth of the informal economy, periphery nations are unable to develop research and electronic resources that currently rule the market economy for a huge profit. More specifically stated, "economic dependency led to great inequalities" (Moghadam, 1995).
World system theory recognizes an international conflict in Marxist terms. It is describe that the relationship between "core nations as upper class with periphery as an exploited working class and the semi-periphery a middle class/bourgeoisie and proletariat are world-wide classes that do not operate merely within state boundaries" (Ward). Thus, World Systems Theory helps to explain why developing nations will not ‘progress’ or modernize in a standardized fashion. In addition, it can help explain why developing nations may have their own transition patterns rather than experiencing the path of Western Development.
Political economists agree that this economic relationship exists between Uganda and First World Nations and corporations. For example, Nabudere (1988) states that while the IMF (discussed briefly above) was praised for helping Uganda in its "Recovery Programme" while
These arguments strengthen the criticism of the World Bank’s IMF plan to help reduce poverty in Uganda. These debt relief programs seems to only increase Uganda’ dependency on other nations. In addition, the presence of the international market and specifically Multinational Corporations, exploit the smallholders (peasant workers) to grow and create exports at low cost, benefiting the MNC at a higher selling price. Global and external power dynamics may keep Uganda from development and recovery to the extent at which Uganda will never surpass the super powers of the world.
A post-colonial nation
In the above discussion, it is implied that Uganda’s colonial and neocolonial state contributes to Uganda’s situation today. The presence of the British and other European powers only adds to cultural hostility between Ugandans and the Europeans, while simultaneously the British favoritism for the Bugandans only added to the cultural hostility between Ugandan cultural groups. Few authors talk specifically about the continued presence of the ex-patriot community, defined in my terms as all those persons living or visiting Uganda who are not African and/or indigenous to the area. While the post-colonial experience implicitly includes the physical presence of ex-patriots, I was unable to find literature describing the actual impact of this relationship. I see the impact as profoundly affecting the Ugandan state. Ex-patriots are predominately the most wealthy people in the country. The ex-patriot presence mimics the global inequality such that the wealthy bourgeoisie control much of the good, materials and services and any improvements thereof while the proletariat--the Ugandan-- receives little benefits. I have little doubt that the ex-patriots drive the need for technology and are the largest consumer group of these products. While some Ugandans have incomes close to that of the ex-patriots, the majority of Ugandan’s subsist at an income level far below. I am unsure whether the ex-patriots’ presence helps to modernize Uganda, encouraging the country to become more technologically sound, or if in fact the ex-patriots drive the need for certain Western pleasures that then only Westerns benefit from.
Regardless, a dichotomy exists between Ugandans who are mostly not technologically focused, versus the ex-patriot community who thrives off of Western ways of living. It is almost as if Uganda consists of two states, one technological and the other not. In fact, it seems that "...Third World nations [can be seen] as ‘dual societies", having two separate and technologically unequal spheres of production--one industrial, the other not" (Holzberg and Giovanni, 1998). There is a partial process of modernization such that Uganda is indeed "stuck" in transition between extreme poverty (mostly Ugandan’s) and extreme wealth (mostly expatriots).
The physical presence of the ex-patriot community living in Uganda’s post-colonial world creates many questions. Who are the improvement that have been made in Uganda and more specifically, who is benefiting from the progress? This presence and relationships needs further study and understanding.
Stuck in Transition?
The debate of the true cause of Uganda’s plight continues. As I have discussed, some argue that external factors are to blame --such as global economic exploitation of Uganda-- while others suggest that Uganda’s internal crises and cultural clashes are the root cause of poverty and disagreement. I am adding another dimension to the discussion by suggesting that the presence of the ex-patriot community causes an unequal distribution of power and material goods, which consequently only worsens the class and cultural split. Perhaps rather than attributing Uganda’s status to one singular cause, Uganda is stuck in transition because of all of these reasons.
III. Policy and Program implications
Uganda is in dire need of program and policy solutions to help address the immediate needs of its population. I do not have enough experience with development literature and ideas to suggest real policy and program implications. However, my one-month experience and research for this paper has given me insight into a few basic ideas about how Uganda can change. I will give a few ideas for change based on others suggestions.
Uganda needs to find a way to produce enough food for its people and for exports without overuse of its land and services. As stated above, Uganda currently relies on agriculture for profit. Agriculture comprises 55% of the GDP while it is over 99% of the GNP while the majority of the working population (86%) are employed in the agricultural sector (UOL communications, 1997). Besides the reliance on agricultural output for income, Uganda is overusing its land in order to meet demand. Moreover, Uganda’s reliance on agriculture is risky; it does not provide Uganda with enough profit to become self-sufficient and eventually break away from its dependency on foreign aid. Policy and programs are needed to begin agricultural reform.
There are at least three ways in which Uganda can improve its agricultural system. First, Rondinelli (1979) focuses on agricultural reform at a local level. He suggests that new goals for the agricultural sector in countries like Uganda should be to increase agricultural output and productivity (to provide for basic food needs and incomes of the poor). Uganda has already begun to do this with consequences of land-overuse. Next, Rondinelli (1979) suggests that stimulating agro-processing, agri-business, and related rural industries would help to diversify local economics, employment, demand for domestically produced goods. Uganda needs to not only diversify its agricultural output by decreasing coffee output (as coffee is the major export) and by finding other sources of viable and sellable produce, but Uganda also needs to move away from the agricultural sector as the primary source of income altogether. Of course, this suggestion is more easily said than done.
As Uganda seeks more ways to improve its situation, it will need a way to predict how well new agricultural programs work. Uganda is in need of a way to determine the supply and demand need of its population and of its industries, while also calculating the limits of its environment. Researchers are continuing to attempt to predict such patterns in the population-environment dynamic (Drake, 1993; Arlinghaus, YEAR; Mealow et al., 1992). For example, Mealow et al. (1992), in their book Beyond the Limits, look at "the long-term implications of the present rates of change in the human society." To do so, they use standard scientific and economic theory about the global system, statistical information on the world’s resources and environment and a computer model to help to integrate this information. Finally, these authors take a system view-point "to see the world as a set of unfolding dynamic behavior patterns ... to focus on interconnections." These researchers use both theory and computers to model the current and past environment interactions in order to predict future change and intervention. It is this holistic perspective on the population-environment dynamic that Uganda needs. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Uganda can afford the computer technology or human services it would take to analyze its systems. Change would certainly have to begin at a small level, and move forward project by project.
Secondly, to help stimulate agro-business and begin the diversification process, Uganda needs to improve its overall standard of living. Rondinelli (1979) suggests that increased access of the rural poor to social services, facilities, technologies and infrastructure would help improve health, nutrition, literacy and family planning. As Rondinelli (1979) warns however, "most governments in developing countries have been unwilling or unable to create the decentralized institutional structure that seems essential to meet the needs of the rural poor." In addition, he states that because rural development fails before the political commitment can even change such that the administrative structure and coordinate capacity are inadequate for an expansion in economic activity. Rondinelli’s (1979) comments paint a hopeless picture of what can been done to institute change. However, Uganda’s political situation is perhaps better off than other developing countries. While certainly the country experiences political unrest inside and outside the country (as neighboring countries are also struggling in their political endeavors), Museveni has been in power for over a decade and has maintained a decent level of power throughout the country. In addition, Uganda --on some level-- already localizes its services as NGOs continually focus their efforts on the rural poor of country. These relationships could be developed further and used as pilot sites for an agricultural reform project as describe above. Agricultural reform is not unlinked to other reforms needed throughout the country. In addition, there is no guarantee that if Uganda can begin to increase access to services for its local communities and begin to diversify its exports and local domestic products to increase profit, then Uganda can improve as an overall country. Uganda is still dependent on outside aid to even have enough money to make change.
Internationally, gender inequality overwhelming. Uganda is no exception as a patriarchal country where men are favored in the political, economic and social realm. Research demonstrates that overall, Ugandan women and girls suffer at the consequence of men in many ways (e.g. UNICEF, 1998; Obbo; Oxfam international, 1996). For example, women are less likely to have the opportunity to attend school (with a higher male enrollment and a higher female drop-out rate), and "women and girl children are especially prone to malnutrition and vitamin deficiency, indicating household food allocation patterns favoring men and boys" (Oxfam International, 1996). In another example, women are particularly susceptible to AIDS, especially where sexually transmitted infections--such as syphilis- are not treated and cured (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1993). In addition, women’s young age at marriage, the large age difference between spouses, the frequency of polygamy, the unequal work burden between the sexes, the high bride price and the low education level of women all combine to perpetuate the low status of women (Boserup, 1982).
Blumberg et al. (1995) explore the gendered nature of economic, technological and global change. They suggest there is a need to examine the gendered relationships through these changes to carefully examine the power relationships and roles that men and women play throughout the transition to modernization. For example:
By placing gender at the core of redevelopment and placing women at the front of economic revival, Uganda and other developing countries may revive themselves. For instance, reviews how the Grameen Bank supports women by giving them loans to become self-sufficient. This project as a very high percent success rate. Similarly, Mealow et al. (1992) suggests that "with enough investment sustained for a long enough time, with fair pricing for products and fair market conditions, with increased output allocated to the poor and especially to the education and employment of women, a population can life itself out of poverty" (1992).
Gender reform implies a societal need to eliminate gender inequality. This suggestion is an idealistic one and far too large of a problem to address in this paper. While ultimately it is needed, I cannot suggest that Uganda ‘simply’ reform is ideologies on gender equality in order to move forward. On the other hand, many sectors in Uganda that were reviewed in this paper exclude the acknowledgment of women’s participation. On many levels Uganda still needs to begin to include women in its policy and program considerations and allowing them to participate at an equally powerful level. Furthermore, when I say that Uganda is in need of gender reform, I am insisting that overall, "the successful implementation of political decision aimed at solving societal problems depends upon the co-operation of women" (Obbo).
One reason I see Uganda as ‘stuck in transition’ is because it fails to equally incorporate women into the economic sphere. One way Uganda could begin to eliminate this inequality is to give women equal human and economic rights. For example, Uganda could focus its efforts on insuring that all children, girls and boys, attend school and learn to read and write. Currently, boys attend school at all levels in greater numbers of girls (UNICEF, 1998). Uganda does not currently have the money to institute such a policy, although it could require all schools to insist on an equal gender representation. Uganda could also give women economic rights to land and business (rights that women currently do not have).
Uganda is attempting to put women first. A new wave of programs in Uganda focus on women’s self-sufficiency, modeling the Grameen Bank program. These Income Generating Activities (IGAs) seek to give groups of women loans to manage collectively by choosing to start a business together or give out loans individually. The collateral for many of these loans are the relationships between the women themselves.
However the success of these programs is debatable. Women already contribute 100 percent of their earning to the household, while men keep a substantial amount for their personal consumption (Ward). In addition, Ward states that many women enter the informal sector for household survival while men may enter to boost their wages relative to the formal sector. If women do enter the formal sector, they are often are the bottom of subcontracting.
One way for women to earn money is through agriculture means. But even here, women are disadvantaged. Even when women have access to land to cultivate, their economic position has often deteriorated. Producing a surplus of food for sale has become more difficult as family size has increased and with increases in village population, women must go farther to cultivate land (Boserup, 1982). Women are also restricted in economic development. They have difficulty in obtaining credit because they do not have land or independent legal status. Adult men can leave the village in large numbers for seasonal work but some leave for several years at a time. A man does not forfeit his right to land through emigration (Boserup). Uganda needs to insure that women have the right to own land and run their own business to earn money and subsistence for their families. In order for the country as a whole to survive, Uganda needs to give women equal rights.
How can gender be used to help development? This is a question I cannot answer but rather work toward and acknowledge in my work. Giving women autonomy and economic independence is certainly a step forward, but attention need to be given toward how this independence affects men and women’s relationship. Until men and women live on equal ground, women will fight for their rights as human beings.
The relationship between population and the environment is clearly a complicated one. Many factors moderate how these variables interact. This paper is an effort toward an enhanced understanding of global and local transitions and how these transitions are affected by the interrelationship of power, the environment and the population. Uganda is an example of a country that is stuck in-between this interrelationship. Perhaps my return trip will bring a more equal world and country.
Arlinghaus, S. L., Nystuen, J. D. , Woldenberg, M. J. ( July, 1992). An Application of Graphical Analyisis to SemiDesert Soils. Geographical Review, 82 (3).
Baud, I.S.A. and Bruijne, G.A. de (1993) Gender, Small-Scale Industry and Development Policy. IT
Blumberg et al. Ed. (1995). EnGENDERING Wealth and Well-Being: Empowerment for Global Change. Westview Press (Boulder).
Caldwell , John and Caldwell, Pat (December 1993). Population and Development Review . The Nature and Limits of the sub-Saharan African AIDS Epidemic: Evidence from Geographic and Other Patterns. 19(4), pp. 817-848.
Chikula, Ben (1997). "Structural adjustment and the new conditionalities: Towards development in Africa." Found in Structural Adjustment, Reconstruction and Development in Africa. Edited by Hope, Kempe , Ronal, Sr. Ashgate: Aldershot.
Dizon-Mueller, R. and Anker, R. Assessing women’s economic contributions to development.
International Labour Office 188(6): Geneva.
Dixon, R. B. (Sept, 1982). Women in Agriculture: Counting the Labor Force in Developing
Countries, Population and Development Review 8 (3), pp.539-566.
Dignard, L. and Havet, J. (1995). Women in Micro-and Small-Scale Enterprise Development.
Westview Press: Boulder.
Guay, L. (1998). HIV/AIDS Perinatal Study. Kampala, Uganda. Unpublished Data.
Hansan, Holger Bernt and Twaddle,M. Ed (1988). Uganda Now: Between Decay and
Development. James Currey: London.
House-Midamba, B. and Ekechi, F. K. Ed (1995). African Market Women and Economic Power: The Role of Women in African Economic Development. Greenwood Press: Westport, Connecticut.
Hope, K. R. Sr. (1997) Structural Adjustment, Reconstruction and Development in Africa. Ashgate: Aldershot
Moghadam, V. M. (1995). "Gender Dynamics of Restructuring in the Semiperiphery." Found in Engendering Wealth and Well-Being. Editors Blumberg, Rae Lesser, Rakowske, Cathy A., Tkiner, Irene, and Monteon, Michael. Westview Press: Boudler.
Mugyenyi, J.B. (1991). IMF conditionality and structural adjustment under the National Resistance Movement. Found in Changing Uganda,
Nabudere, D.W. (1988). External and internal factors in Uganda’s continuing crisis. Found in: Hansan, Holger Bernt and Twaddle,M. Ed (1988). Uganda Now: Between Decay and Development. James Currey: London.
Obbo, C. (1991). Women, Children and a ‘living wage.’ Found in: Hansen, Holger, Bernt and Twaddle, M. Ed (1991). Changing Uganda: The Diemmas of Structural Adjustment and Revoluntionary Change. James Currey: London.
Obbo, C. African Women. Their Struggle for Economic Independence. Zed Press: London.
Ofcansky, T. P. (1996.) Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa. WestviewPress.
Ostergaard, L. Ed (1992). Gender and Development: A practical guide. Routledge: London.
Oxfam International (Sept., 1996). Debt Relief and Poverty Reduction: New Hope for Uganda.
Rondinelli, D. A. (Apr., 1979). Adiministration of Integrated Rural Development Policy : The Politices of Agrarian Reform in Developing Countries. World Politics, 31 (3), pp. 389-416.
The National Gender Policy (1997) . Ministry of Gender and Community Development, Kampala.
The State of The World’s Children, (1998). UNICEF.
Siddiqui, R. A. (1993) Sub-Saharan Africa: A Sub-Continent in Transition. Avebury: Aldershot.
Southall, A. (1988). The recent political economy of Uganda. Found in: Hansan, Holger
Bernt and Twaddle,M. Ed (1988). Uganda Now: Between Decay and Development. James Currey: London.
United Nations. Country Presentation: Uganda, 1990. Second United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. UOL Communications (1997). Internet source. http://www.nic.ug/Economy
Ward, K. "Reconceptualizing World System Theory to Include Women." Missing citation.
Wiens, J. A (1976). Annual Review of Ecological Systems. Population Responses to Patchy Environments. 7, pp 81-120.
World Bank, The. http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/hivaids/aidsafr.htm
World Resources Data (1996-1997).