MUK Report Puts Poverty Levels at 87 Percent

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In short
A study conducted by Makerere University has placed poverty levels in the country at 87 percent, despite several government interventions.

A study conducted by Makerere University has placed poverty levels in the country at 87 percent, despite several government interventions.

The study was conducted by Makerere College of Humanities under the three-year project on Promotion of professional social work towards social development and poverty reduction in East Africa (PROSOWO). The study, conducted between September and December 2011, was supported by the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR).

The 98 page report indicates that poverty is still very high among the population notwithstanding the official statistics that show marked reductions in poverty. According to the study, 84% of the social work practitioners, who were the respondents interviewed in the study, the leading problem faced by their clients was poverty and unemployment, while 9% mentioned HIV and related diseases and another 9% mentioned domestic violence.

The research study was undertaken in the districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Iganga, Bugiri, Mbarara, Gulu and Nwoya using participatory methods to collect data from social work practitioners, employers, clients, educators, students and policy makers.

Dr. Rosalinda Lubanga, the lead researcher and Senior Lecturer at the university, says it is apparent that gender violence, ignorance and illiteracy, poor services, and prostitution are a manifestation or symptom of poverty at different levels of social organization.

Dr. Lubanga maintains that the magnitude of poverty among the target population of the social stands is very high at an aggregate of 87 percent.

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Dr Janestic Twikiriza, the project coordinator and also senior lecturer at Makerere, says other ingredients to poverty prevalence considered by the social workers include time element to the poverty problem. A number of respondents, according to Twikiriza, described poverty as an inability to meet basic needs in a required time and inability to sustain one’s life style, at a particular period of time. 

She adds that there are significantly high poverty levels based gender and locality, with female lacking basic needs such as food, clothing, health and education, and men attributing poverty to family break up arising out of inability to provide for one’s household.

In terms of locality, Twikiriza says that in urban communities such as Kampala poverty is associated with difficulty in accessing housing, unemployment, and inability to build or own land, while the rural groups identified poverty with lack of land for farming.

Other cross cutting issues included unemployment, disease, insecurity and marginalization.  In Northern Uganda poverty is still attributed to the war which existed for over 20 years till 2006.

The study recommends initiating bottom –up anti poverty programmes and involving social workers in development programmes that are aimed at lifting the lifestyle of the people.

According to the 2011 Uganda Bureau of Statistics report, the country has achieved some progress with the percentage of people living on less than one dollar a day dropping from 35 percent in 2000 to 24.5 percent in 2011.

UBOS attributes the progress to government interventions that include Plan for Modernization of Agriculture, the Poverty Eradication Action Plan and Peace, and Recovery and Development Program for Northern Uganda among others.

Early this year, the Ministry of Finance released the Poverty Status Report indicating that poverty levels among Ugandans have continued to decline. The 100-page report titled Reducing vulnerability, equalising opportunities and transforming Livelihoods says the country’s poverty levels have been on the downward trend since 1992 except in 2002/03 when a survey indicated that poverty levels had gone up.

The number of people categorised as absolutely poor stood at 9.9 million or 56.4% in 1992/93. The number reduced to 7.4million or 33.8% in 1999/2000, before going up again to 9.3 million or 38.8% in 2002/03. The report says poverty levels declined again to 8.5million or 31% in 2005/06 and 7.5 million or 24.5% in 2009/10.