Poverty Alleviation


One of the things that the President has been fighting tirelessly is poverty. This is why he set up the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger. The Poverty Alleviation Department (PAD) in State House was established in 2000 as a clearing house for pledges made by President Yoweri Museveni. 

In 2003, the department was mandated to develop wealth creation models. The department has so far designed more than 12 initiatives aimed at increasing productivity and value addition.

A model parish is an innovation evolved by the President to demonstrate how systematically a high concentration of projects in a model parish can be used to tackle poverty and speed up rural transformation.

In 2003, the department received a mandate to develop wealth creation models to benefit the people of Uganda. The department has thus far designed more than 12 initiatives aimed at increasing productivity and value addition. A model parish is an innovation evolved by the President to demonstrate how systematically a high concentration of projects in a model parish can be used to tackle poverty and speed up rural transformation. PAD works in tandem with other government anti-poverty initiatives.

PAD works in tandem with other government anti-poverty initiatives. The programme aims at enhancing or supplementing the five pillars of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) and the Prosperity For All programme, especially the element that calls for the creation of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS).

The five pillars of PA include 

  1. Income Generation.
  2. Food Security.
  3. Home Improvement.
  4. Value Addition and Marketing.
  5. Savings and Credit.


PAD has recorded tremendous success thus far. There are more than 19 model parishes being run under the PAD program, including Ruharo model parish in Bushenyi, Kasokwe Model Parish in Kaliro, Lwabenge in Masaka, Kikoni in Ntungamo, Busiita in Sironko, Kyanamukaka in Masaka, Sheme in Bushenyi, Bwera in Kamwenge, Petta in Tororo, Nakyesanja in Mpigi, Rwenganju in Kabarole, Mbulamuti in Kamuli, Mwanyagiri in Mukono, Rwentondo in Rukungiri, Kisozi in Mpigi, Mangho in Mbale, Mucuumi in Kitgum, Syanyonga in Busia and Buwemba in Masaka.

To become a model parish, farmers were given better yielding seeds and farm implements for their farms. By July 2009, 12,400 banana suckers had been distributed to farmers. Since an acre requires around 400 suckers, these were able to cover over 26 acres of land. A farmer can harvest at least 100 bunches from an acre every month. In addition to this, Lwabenge also received 22 calf heifers distributed to 22 households. 

There were also two bulls in the parish, purposely to cater for the calves. These cows produce at least 10 to 14 liters of milk per day. Resident farmers formed SACCOS and   are now able to market their produce.

In the Ntungamo district, Kikoni was selected as the model parish. As of July 2009, the parish had received banana suckers, goats, cows, hives for apiary and many other income enhancing implements. A total of 2,589 pullets and 249 cocks had been distributed. Chicken beneficiaries were given between 50 and 200 chickens, depending on capacity.

 Improvements made in Banana production have drastically improved food security in the parish. An additional benefit of the increased earnings of the farms is that the houses in most of the model parishes have been upgraded, each being equipped with proper plumbing. The installation of quality stoves has also lessened the demand for firewood.

Increasing household incomes and promoting equity

 Economic growth is necessary to increase both household incomes and financing of public investment and social service delivery and is therefore a central objective of the NDP.

Average GDP growth over the original NDP period (2010/11 to 2014/15) is currently. projected at 5.5%, compared to 7.2% targeted by the plan. Growth was lower than planned due to several external and domestic shocks.

Despite lower-than-expected average income growth, Uganda has made substantial progress in improving household incomes at the bottom end of the distribution. The proportion of the population living below the poverty line fell to 19.7% in 2012/13 from 31.1% in 2005/6, surpassing both the NDP target and the first MDG to halve absolute poverty. 

The fall in income poverty is statistically significant and robust to the choice of the poverty line. This indicates that although economic growth has been lower than expected, it has been strongly pro-poor.

Significant poverty reduction has occurred across all regions of the country. Between 2005/6 and 2012/13, poverty declined by 17 percentage points in the Northern region percentage points in the Central and Western regions; and 11 percentage points in the Eastern region. The Northern region remains the poorest part of the country, but the gap has narrowed significantly since the restoration of peace in 2006. More recently, it is the Eastern region that has seen the slowest progress in reducing income poverty. 

This mainly reflects adverse weather conditions, a high dependency ratio and growing population pressures contributing to land fragmentation and soil degradation. However, the region has seen significant progress in other dimensions of welfare, including education, health, housing conditions and access to information.

The considerable reduction in poverty over the years is attributed to Uganda’s general economic development, significant public investment in physical infrastructure, and several targeted Government interventions. Lower trade costs across the country, driven by improved transport infrastructure and better-integrated agricultural value chains, have been particular important in ensuring agricultural households share the benefits of economic growth.

Increased demand in the context of rapid urban growth and an increasingly connected region has created numerous income-earning opportunities for poor households. Government supported Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (Sacco’s) have enabled many households to grow their enterprises, particularly those that emerged to advance the common economic interests of a particular group. Government interventions such as the Vegetable Oil

Development Project in Kalangala have also had a transformative impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Gaps in public service delivery have successfully been addressed, through the Peace, Recovery and Development Programme in the north.

To build on past gains, Government increasingly needs to harness the poverty reducing potential of structural transformation – or shifts in the sectoral share of employment and GDP in favour of more productive and dynamic activities. Although socioeconomic transformation is necessary to eradicate poverty, it requires many households to take potentially risky investments, and the modernisation of Uganda’s economy is creating new sources of vulnerability that need to be appropriately managed. 

Commercial agriculture is associated with several business risks that subsistence farmers avoid. Population growth is contributing to land fragmentation and growing landlessness in rural areas. Urban canters offer significant opportunities, but migrants often possess few assets and face high risks, exacerbated by high competition for jobs, weakening of traditional community support systems and inadequate social care services. Many poor and vulnerable households require support in order to exploit the emerging economic opportunities.

Government is therefore complementing its strategy for economic growth with targeted interventions to build the productive capabilities and resilience of vulnerable households. Government and development partners are implementing a number of interventions to build social resilience ranging from state and formal pension schemes, through public work and unconditional cash transfer programmes, to social care and support services. 

Government is currently piloting direct income support and other social protection measures which are aimed at enabling households to save for the future, invest in productive assets and embrace higher-risk high-value activities. Assessment of the fiscal sustainability of expanding the programme to cover all eligible households countrywide is being undertaken.

Success story

Another example of a selected model parish is Ruhaaro in Bushenyi. Ruharo was among the very first model parishes, started in 2004. When a team of researchers from the Office of the President visited the parish in 2009, they realized that some of the programs were not going according to plan.

The team observed that some of the inputs were not doing well. For example, they noticed that although some of the families catered for the bananas, others did not do so, leading to poor productivity. They also discovered that in comparison to the cattle in some other model parishes, those in Ruharo were not producing as much milk.

In the Busoga region, one of the selected model parishes is Mbulamuti in the Kamuli district. As in the other model parishes, most of the population in this region relies on agricultural produce. When a team of researchers from the President’s Office visited the area on a fact-finding tour, they realized that many of the residents had not yet adapted to the idea. 

The team was informed that out of the 1,000 households in the parish, only 24 had benefited from the program. The encouraging news, however, was that those who had benefited were doing well. By July 2009, 84 goats had been distributed to the residents and all of them were doing well.

Residents received over 400 coffee seedlings, 3,000 banana suckers, 2,500 fish fingerlings, chickens and various other implements. Overall, according to the researchers’ observations, food security was not great either and needed to improve. 

While Mbulamuti and Ruharo were not performing well, this was not the case with Mangho parish in Mbale district. As of July 2009, the parish had received 20 heifers and each of them was producing an average 12 liters of milk per day. 

Local chickens given to various families were also doing well, while the bananas had also flourished and one of the benefiting farmers was already earning sh500,000 per month from bananas production alone. Overall, the idea of model villages is changing lives across the country.

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