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World

Corruption may hamper anti-poverty measures in Uganda

The Ugandan government made a promise 10 years ago to do more to help its poor. But many of the nation's citizens believe public corruption has undermined the effectiveness of the government's anti-poverty programs.

Caroline Nambooze

Little government help has reached women like Caroline Nambooze

The Millennium Development Campaign reports that poverty in the developing world has dropped by 19 percent during the past 20 years, putting it on track to halve poverty by 2015. Yet there are nations in the world - the UN calls them "Least Developed Countries" (LDCs) - that have not experienced the rapid reduction in the number of poor seen, for example, in China.

Uganda is one of these LDCs. As a landlocked nation, its development prospects already face major challenges. But according to some Ugandans, there is also a human problem that is preventing significant reductions in poverty: public corruption.

Ineffective programs

Caroline Nambooze has not seen much in the way of government help. She breaks rocks for a living in a stone quarry located outside of Uganda's capital Kampala. It provides construction material for the country's blossoming construction industry. Two of Nambooze's children died of malaria. She can barely send her surviving daughter to school with the $70 (54 euros) she earns a month.

"I buy a piece of rock, and I break it into little pieces," Nambooze said. "That helps me earn money for housing, groceries and the school fees for my only living child."

The Ugandan government, led by President Yoweri Museveni, has implemented programs like the National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS) to help people - especially farmers - in desperate financial situations like Nambooze. The program should facilitate the acquisition of new livestock and better feed by farmers. But NAADS faces hurdles that prevent the rural poor from receiving the help they seek.

"I don't go to NAADS because I don't have enough money," said Jane Rose Kasukari, a farmer and widowed mother of eight children. "I was told that I had to pay cash to register, and I could profit from the program later."

Deo Nyanzi

Nyanzi blames public corruption for the ineffectiveness of anti-poverty measures

The government also set up a program called Prosperity for All. It planned to raise the living standards of Ugandans by providing them with cheap credit distributed through local cooperatives. But like NAADS, its implementation has been problematic.

"The progress report of the UN Millennium Development Goals showed a mixed picture of the condition of the programs in Uganda," Deo Nyanzi, manager of the Uganda National NGO Forum, told Deutsche Welle. "The widespread corruption at high levels is responsible for the failure of President Yoweri Museveni's policies."

Ugandans losing faith in government

Because these public programs have not delivered, many Ugandans are losing faith in their government and hope in the future.

"I don't think that the government does enough to fight poverty," Jill Kyatuhaire Kesha, the manager of the Westminster Institute for Democracy, told Deutsche Welle. "The government does not put enough resources in critical areas because it sets the wrong priorities."

And Derrick Twinomugisha, an ad agent with the firm Ogilvy, said he believes he knows where government's priorities lie - in its own welfare.

"The government uses these programs to embezzle public money," Twinomugisha said. "I haven't profited from them."

Author: Leyla Ndinda (sk)
Editor: Rob Mudge

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