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Museveni has no intentions of ending poverty in the country

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BLACKSTAR NEWS – A typical grandmother in rural northern region has to take care of their grandchildren.

“However, Uganda’s success is not without caveats. In 2013, more than a third of its citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day….For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”

“It is true that there are disparities in economic development. This is not a new thing. The north and east have always lagged behind”

“Is there anything worth mentioning which NUSAF and PRDP have done? The government has no political will to develop the north, but if you see in terms of figures spent in northern Uganda, you won’t believe”

GULU-UGANDA: According to World Bank’s Poverty Assessment report 2016, despite the substantial progress that has been sustained over two decades to end extreme poverty, Uganda remains a very poor country with glaring disparities.

Poverty has become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country as the Central and Western regions have experienced more rapid poverty reduction.

“However, Uganda’s success is not without caveats. In 2013, more than a third of its citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day….For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”, part of the abridged version of the report reads.

In 2006, approximately 68% percent of the poor, lived in northern and eastern parts of the country. Seven years later, this proportion has increased to 84% percent. Poverty has fallen in all regions, but gains have been slower in poorer Northern and Eastern regions.

The annual percent reduction in poverty has been almost twice as high in the Central and Western regions (7.4% and 7.9% percent respectively) than in the Northern and Eastern regions (3.1% and 4.7% percent respectively).

The report shows that high growth from 2006 to 2010 benefited poverty reduction. Although growth slowed for all households from 2010, poor households were able to maintain above average consumption growth and poverty did not falter.

Agricultural income growth particularly benefited poor households aided by peace in northern Uganda, improved regional markets, and good weather.

The Director of the Uganda Media Center and Government spokesman, Mr. Ofwono-Opondo, says the disparity in economic development between northern and eastern regions, compared to that of Central and Western regions, has always been there but not as a creation of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.

“It is true that there are disparities in economic development. This is not a new thing. The north and east have always lagged behind,” says Ofwono-Opondo.

He says the government is trying to address the disparities in economic development through affirmative action programs like the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF).

He says the problem has been acerbated by the conflict in neighboring South Sudan which has affected the regional markets for our agricultural produce and is also straining Uganda’s resources.

Informal export from Uganda to South Sudan grew enormously between 2005 and 2008 before the latest round of conflict in south Sudan from US$9.1 million dollars in 2005 to US$929.9 million dollars in 2008. Formal exports also increased, but less dramatically, from US$50.5 million in 2005 to $245.9 million dollars in 2008, according to International Alert report.

“For the north to catch up quickly there is need to restore stability in South Sudan and the region to move away from rain-fed agricultural practice to irrigation,” says Mr. Ofwono-Opondo.

According to the former Member of Parliament for Chua County in Kitgum district, Mr. John Livingstone Okellokello, President Yoweri Museveni’s dictatorial government has no “political will” to bridge the gap in disparities between the north and the rest of the country.

He says, money which is supposed to develop northern region like NUSAF and PRDP, are always stolen by the people recruited on ‘sectarian basis’.

“Is there anything worth mentioning which NUSAF and PRDP have done? The government has no political will to develop the north, but if you see in terms of figures spent in northern Uganda, you won’t believe” says the former legislator.

According to a member of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Professor Sam Obwoya Kinyera, the north has a lot of potential to develop and catch up with the rest of the country if the region adopts industrialization and educating the children.

“It is true the war took us so many years behind other regions which have been peaceful and their children were getting good education. We need youth empowerment because economic growth depends on education. Western Uganda is high because the people there are educated and have own income”, says the Professor.

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