About Mwananchi in Uganda
Property rights, social protection and social justice are the focus for the Mwananchi programme in Uganda. The themes were identified by consultation meetings, stocktaking exercises and a baseline context analysis and the programme will engage formal and informal governance structures and organisations in at least three districts in the country.
Property rights deal with ownership and protection of private property, including land. However, women, youth, orphans and vulnerable children – particularly girls, people with disabilities and the elderly with large families – face difficulties when it comes to land rights. As a result, there is a strong link between landlessness and chronic poverty in Uganda. Vulnerable citizens sell land to meet basic necessities such as school fees, medical care and food. In most parts of the country land grabbing and disputes are also common, especially upon the death of a husband, as cultural practices deny female inheritance and ownership rights for land.
Since land is a major factor of production in Uganda, often its management is a political process. This is exacerbated by insecurity and displacement brought by rebel and ethnic conflicts, particularly in northern Uganda. This has direct implications for access and ownership of land for production and survival for the poor.
Disadvantaged groups face difficulties in accessing justice services and can easily be excluded because institutions are far away, slow in responding to their needs or the services are expensive. In some instances justice institutions are discriminatory towards the poor. Other barriers to justice occur when disadvantaged groups are not aware of their rights, or where justice institutions and processes are intimidating or unnecessarily complex.
Social protection schemes, identified as one of ways to end poverty, are gaining popularity in developing countries, as they involve mechanisms aimed at helping the poor and vulnerable manage risk and overcome deprivation through direct cash or in-kind transfers. In the Mwananchi context governance processes can also be mechanisms for social protection.
The programme also aims to:
- increase citizen participation in ways that make elected representatives accountable
- promote responsiveness and transparency in governance as well as functional institutions that deliver quality services without fear, patronage or discrimination
Working on the assumption that the state can provide political leadership in efficient and equitable resource allocation, promoting human welfare and positive social transformation, a good governance system the Mwananchi programme in Uganda identifies diverse attributes that are key to the success of the programme. These include:
- constitutionalism and effective checks and balances
- transparency and accountability
- Peace and security
- good leadership that has legitimacy and is committed to devolution of power
- accessible platforms for citizen participation and a strong civil society
- freedom of expression, protection of basic human rights and regular free and fair elections.