Saturday, April 30, 2011


With a budget of US$ 67,345,041 for one year; 2009, World Vision Uganda made a substantial contribution to the welfare of the children of Uganda as depicted in the statistics below.
World Vision is becoming an increasingly strategy led – organization as it moves away from service delivery to partnering with communities, government, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to enable to enable children to achieve well – being.

Uganda’s introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) resulted in a huge increase in enrolment. Although gross and net enrolment ratios are high, over 70% of the children who enter primary school do not complete primary Seven (P7). Of those who complete P7, only 40% continue to post-primary institutions. This means that out of 100 children who enter Primary One, less than 30 complete Primary Seven and only 12 children join secondary school. This partly explains why Uganda’s literacy rate is 69% (According to the Human Development Report 2009).
One of the Strategic Objectives of World Vision Uganda’s Strategy (2007 – 2009) was increased access to quality primary, secondary and vocational education and support for functional adult education in the supported communities.
In 2009, World Vision had education programmes that were aimed at improving access to and the quality of education, particularly primary education for both boys and girls.
World Vision Uganda’s programming in education promotes the organization’s four child well-being outcomes, especially the outcome on Education for Life for all children. This means that World Vision strives to see that:
1)Children access and complete quality primary education;
2)Children read, write, and compute;
3)Children make good judgments, protect themselves, manage emotions and communicate ideas;
4)Adolescents are ready for economic activities.
The other child well-being outcomes which are that children enjoy good health; love God and their neighbours; are cared for, protected and participating – are integrated into education programmes.

World Vision Uganda is contributing towards the improvement of the quality of primary education in Uganda by:
1.Promoting education policy influencing
2.Contributing to securing of adequate basic education resources and ensuring effective utilization
3.Strengthening education governance and management systems and structures.
In the financial year October 2008 – September 2009, the organization made tremendous progress in improving children’s access to education. More schools were built, especially in the Eastern and Western regions, significantly reducing the distances that children have to walk to school.
Building teachers’ houses at schools means that the teachers will be readily available to conduct lessons. This is unlike when they have to walk long distances from wherever they are staying to come for lessons.

Tuesday, 01 September 2009 18:30 By The Independent Team
Richard Ssewakiryanga is the executive director Uganda National NGO Forum which brings together NGOs in Uganda to provide a sharing and reflection platform for NGOs to influence governance and development process and enhance their operating environment. The Independent’s Mubatsi Asinja Habati interviewed him about their activities.

[Richard Ssewakiryanga] In the will next few months The Independent run a series of works about National NGO Forum. When was the National NGO Forum formed?
The decision set up the National NGO Forum was made in 1997 but the organisation was legally registered in 2001 with the NGO Registration Board in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It took time to register the National NGO Forum in its earlier years because at the time there were intense discussions on whether an NGO forum of legally registered NGOs really needed to register again.
There was also an element of resistance by some sections of the NGO community and others in government against registering the organisation. Eventually several circumstances dictated that it got registered in April 2001.

What was your agenda?
The core agenda at the time of formation was for the National NGO Forum to provide an avenue through which NGOs could engage collectively in policy advocacy on areas and on issues which NGOs felt a united front would lead to greater chances of success. The mid 90s was also a time when the number of NGOs grew exponentially and government was desirous of an agency through which NGOs could collectively engage in policy processes. Therefore, there were circumstances both on the supply and demand side that led to the formation of the organisation. After 10 years in 2007/08 the National NGO Forum went through a rigorous reflection process to chart out its agenda for the future. This process led to the launch of a robust strategic plan in September 2008 which lays out and strengthens the identity of the National NGO Forum as an independent and inclusive national platform for NGOs in Uganda. We exist to provide a sharing and reflection platform for NGOs to influence governance and development processes in Uganda, and enhance NGO operating environment. The specific programmes we implement are contained in our Strategic Plan available on our website.

Let's focus more now on the NGO sector more broadly. How many NGOs exist in Uganda?
The NGO sector in Uganda is a growing one. Its most exponential growth was witnessed after 1986 when evidently a relatively more conducive environment for NGO formation and operation was put in place. From a paltry estimate of less than 200 NGOs in 1986 to 3,500 in 2000, 4,700 in 2003, 5,500 by end of 2005 and the number presently is estimated to be in the region of 8,000. This numerical presentation of the NGO sector growth has to be read with caution though, as it is drawn largely from the official NGO Registry of NGOs at the NGO Board. A study by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2003 suggested the sector could in fact be a lot smaller as only between 15-30% of NGOs that register go operational. Secondly there are chances that some NGOs operate without registering with the NGO Board. It has to be noted that the perceived growth in the NGO sector is not an isolated development as evidently there has been growth in several other sectors in the last two decades. The number of media houses and outlets has increased many-fold, the number of educational institutions whether primary, secondary or university have more than tripled. Even the population of Uganda has increased considerably. As with all the above trends, the key challenge has always been quality.

What would you say is the central ideology of NGOs?
First, you need to appreciate that NGOs exist as diverse organisational forms. Diversity is not only a central characteristic of the sector, but also one of its key strengths. Secondly, it is crucial to note that NGOs exist and operate in a context. Their agenda is shaped by forces in a strong global, regional, national and local environment. Today, NGOs face strong global influences resulting from a dominant neo-liberal ideology driving the global economy. These influences have conditioned many developing countries and NGOs to be reactive rather than proactive in shaping their economic and political choices. Extreme power imbalances that shape the global economy are reflected at country level: poverty and deprivation co-exist with wealth, powerlessness exists with the transformative potential of citizens, and severe socioeconomic and political injustices reign yet more equitable distribution of resources is possible. The notion of private sector-led growth has weakened the capacity of the state to respond to unbalanced development, leading to widespread social disruptions which threaten the soul of many nations. It is in this context that hope is often found in NGOs: actors that not only provide essential services to the more disadvantaged sections of society, but also offer space where socioeconomic and political pressure can be nurtured to challenge injustice.

There have been allegations that many NGOs are briefcase entities and that some work to serve personal interests of their founders. What is your response to such views?

A politico-economy analysis of NGO formation would reveal that NGOs get formed for various reasons, some of which are indeed selfish. There have been many labels on NGOs, from them being briefcase or even 'kavera' entities to being flash disk NGOs. In a society, where life is increasingly becoming very difficult, in part because of the failure of the state or even the much touted private sector to provide adequate opportunity for citizens, such phenomena are not surprising. As the National NGO Forum, while we acknowledge the existence of such entities, we are inspired more by the positive things about NGOs. There are empirical studies, such as one commissioned by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2003 which established that a great number of NGOs were formed and driven by altruistic reasons. They thus work day and night to see a better future for humanity.

Many Ugandans wallow in poverty. Some studies put the poverty levels in Uganda at 35%. What are NGOs doing to address the poverty situation in the country?

First it is important to understand that poverty is a condition perpetuated by several factors; ill health, illiteracy, disempowerment, conflict, bad leadership and governance, depletion of natural resources and the environment, inequitable development opportunity, marginalisation, unemployment, etc. It is therefore essential to understand the contribution NGOs make to poverty reduction that we locate this contribution in the context of their work addressing the underlying causes of poverty.

Whether addressing a natural or structural vulnerability; whether doing it from a basic needs(direct service delivery) or rights-based (policy and advocacy) approach, there is widespread consensus that NGOs have made and continue to make a significant contribution in getting rid of pervasive poverty and socio-economic and political injustices, bringing about more widely spread national health and wealth. NGOs have been the catalysts for recent successful global campaigns on debt relief and access to essential medicines. It has been acknowledged that the achievement of Millennium Development Goals will require meaningful involvement of NGOs (because) of their unique knowledge of local realities.

NGOs niche has been the provision of a wide range of services where the state and the market have been overwhelmed, failed or simply ignored the problem partly because often they are party to the problem: relief and rehabilitation in humanitarian emergencies; anti-corruption work; conflict resolution and employment creation. In Uganda, NGOs have traditionally been heavily involved in education, health and agriculture. For example in Uganda, it is estimated that NGOs and Faith Based Organisations have been contributing around 40% of services to a sector like health. More recently their contribution is significant in environment, microfinance and HIV/AIDS. The Civil Society Index puts their impact at as high as 2.3 out of 3. Powerful local NGOs have become a well recognised element of local development, where they speak with authority on issues affecting the poor and marginalised and are able to influence the highest level of national and international policy making.

But what has been the real impact and contribution of NGOs and civil society organisations to development, especially at grassroots level?

A number of attempts to document the contribution of NGOs to development have been made most notably in a research in 1999 as part of the John Hopkins Comparative Non Profit Sector Project. Then, it was estimated that civil society in Uganda in 1998 alone accounted for about $89 million in expenditures, an amount equivalent to 1.4% of the country's GDP that year. It found out that the sector employed over 230,000 workers representing 2.3% of the country's economically active population and 10.9% of its non-agricultural employment. Civil Society was estimated to be one-and-a-half times that of the public sector workforce and over half as large as that in the fields of manufacturing combined. The sector is therefore quite critical for Uganda's development aspirations. In 2010, the National NGO Forum will undertake a comprehensive study on the value, current size, scope and contribution of the NGO sector to Uganda's development. This study will give the much needed information to compliment previous researches.

On the issue of NGO impact at grassroots, it would be right to state that most NGOs are found and are active at grassroots levels- whether working in research, policy or service delivery. Some of the most powerful NGOs have had considerable impact at grassroots level. The work of GUSCO in Northern Uganda has been crucial to formerly abducted children, Kabarole Research and Resource Centres work is empowering people in the Rwenzori Region,while the work of URDT is changing the lives of many people in Kagadi in Kibaale district.

Given your admission earlier that there could be some quack NGOs in Uganda, do you have any quality assurance mechanism in place to overcome the pseudo NGO phenomenon?

Again, we adopt a more progressive view to overcoming this reality. In 2006, the National NGO Forum, DENIVA and other NGOs came together and started a process to develop a Quality Assurance Mechanism. This process, which was widely consultative, including in the media culminated in the adoption in 2007 of an NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism, popularly known as the QuAM. The QuAM is an NGO developed and managed voluntary code of conduct whose aim is to help NGOs grow in good internal governance. The QuAM has 59 indicators of good and ethical behaviour and practice for NGOs and the idea is to promote the QuAM so that NGOs adopt it voluntarily, knowing that their adoption of the principles contained in the QuAM will help them improve on their work and make them truly publicly accountable organisations.

The QuAM has been well received and several NGOs are going through the process, being handled by an independent QuAM Council. I am pleased to inform you that the National NGO Forum was the first NGO in Uganda to successfully go through the QuAM process. While we did qualify for the QuAM Certificate of good practice, a number of gaps were found to exist in relation to the 59 principles and so we are now focusing on an action plan to help us improve our governance and impact.

There has been debate on the future role and relevance of NGOs as direct citizen spaces such as 'bimeza' become popular. Secondly there is the unending question of who NGOs and civil society represent especially when we have institutions such as Parliament. How would you respond to these views?
Firstly, the view that NGOs are in competition for space with citizens is not correct. In fact, many NGOs exist to provide the space for citizens to engage directly in shaping their own destiny. However, when citizens take their own initiative, this must be appreciated and respected. NGOs or civil society more generally, is a natural phenomenon. Just like in human life where everybody belongs to an associational life - within a family, village, etc, NGOs are a reflection of associational and human life. Therefore there will never be a day when NGOs are not relevant.
Secondly, we need to understand the representative and participatory arenas in the discourse on democracy and citizenship. Parliaments play an important role in the representative democracy discourse because they are directly elected by citizens, while NGOs and other civil society groups have an important role in the participatory arena. These democracy spaces are both important and compliment each other. There is therefore no need to view them as negatively competitive. We exist to make the state more effective and government more responsive.

Any comments?
As the National NGO Forum, we strongly believe that many Ugandans need to understand better the value and contribution of NGOs to changing people’s lives and providing opportunity for many marginalised citizens. Many a time, NGOs are portrayed negatively in part because society and the media are more attracted to the negative things in life. This series on ‘NGOs and Development’ initiated by The Independent Magazine will hopefully help counterbalance the negative image and understanding of NGOs in Uganda. I would like to encourage a lot more NGOs to take advantage of the series and highlight the good work they are doing for the cause of humanity.

9 August 2009
By Arthur Baguma
In 1995, a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) closed business after operating for 10 years in Rakai district. It turned out that the cost of remuneration for expatriates who had run it until eight months earlier was almost half the organisation's annual budget.
They had lived in a fairly large complex and the programme director had rented a house in Kampala where he spent most of his time. When the expatriates left, local staff who replaced them expected the same level of pay and to live the same lifestyle. In eight months they ran down the NGO.
Arthur Larok, the director of programmes at Uganda National NGO Forum, says many NGOs in Africa follow a similar pattern, spending almost half of their budget on administration. This limits their impact.
Larok suggests that NGOs should spend 15% of their total budget on administration, but some use as much as 60%. This problem also extends to government projects funded by donors, he notes.
NGOs have played a large role in the social and economic lives of developing countries, including Uganda. While many provide valuable services, the sector has grown much faster than elected officials can monitor. This has created opportunities for scam artists who are eager to enrich themselves than to serve the public.
Also, some political officials voice frustrations that NGOs at times operate on a different set of rules and pursue different priorities than local leaders think appropriate. And lately, some NGOs have attracted complaints that they promote dependence instead of self-sufficiency in communities where they operate, with the result that some areas have failed to develop even after NGOs have been "helping" them for decades.
A team from The New Vision has been exploring these and related questions. What is the contribution of NGOs to national development and job creation? Is the mushrooming of NGOs in Africa a sign that states have failed to do their work, or is it a sign of development?
The only official statistics on the value of NGOs to national development are 10 years old. They paint a gloomy picture of the sector. A study conducted in 1998 indicates that only 20% of registered NGOs are usually active on the ground. No comprehensive study has been done since then to quantify the contribution of NGOs.
Statistics about the evolution of NGOs in Uganda also are sketchy. The 1960s and 1970s produced no documented data on NGOs. However, a sketchy picture started to emerge in 1986, when the National NGO Forum was established. At the time, the forum's statistics showed there were about 200 registered NGOs. Within 10 years, the number had skyrocketed to 3,000. By the end of 2007, the number of registered NGOs were 7,000 in Uganda.
Few of them are operational. A survey done in 2003 by the Office of the Prime Minister established that about only 20% of NGOs that get registered go into operation.
"There is a high infant mortality rate in the NGO sector. We have an NGO sector that is smaller on the ground than what is on paper. There is rapid growth in registration, but less in operations," Larok explains. Still, NGOs play a large role.
It is estimated that NGOs and faith-based organisations have been contributing around 40% of services. Those that are operational create public awareness of various issues, contribute to policy-making and monitoring and build capacity in a variety of sectors. They create employment and pay significant amounts in import duties, pay as you earn and value added tax, among other taxes, contributing to the growth of the economy.
A number of attempts have been made to document the contribution of NGOs to development. Civil society in Uganda in 1998 alone accounted for about $89m (about sh187b) in expenditures, an amount equivalent to 1.4% of GDP at the time.
The sector employed more than 230,000 workers, representing 2.3% of the country's economically active population and 10.9% of its non-agricultural employment. The civil society workforce was estimated to be one-and-a-half times as large as the public sector workforce and more than half as large as the workforce in all fields of manufacturing combined.
The lack of good data on NGOs soon may change. The NGO Forum, in conjunction with the Government, is about to conduct a national study covering as many districts and examining the work of NGOs in the last 10 years. This will be a comprehensive study on the value and contribution of NGOs to good governance and the socio-economic development of Uganda.

Regulation of NGOs
NGOs are regulated under the 1989 NGO statute, which was amended in 2006 to become the NGO Act. But the NGO Board, the Government arm responsible for regulation of NGOs, is incapacitated. "They don't have staff," says an NGO official. "When you get there, it is a tea girl who will welcome you."
He says in the 1990's an international NGO offered to overhaul the body and offer it computers, but the Government rejected the gesture. The NGO Forum is not represented on the board. The board consists of representatives from the education ministry, Office of Prime Minister, local governments and two representatives of the public, appointed by the minister and representatives from the Internal Security Organisation and external security Organisation.
NGOs themselves are not represented. "Our concern has always been why we are denied representation on the NGO board yet we are the major stakeholders," says the NGO Forum.

Why the Rapid growth of NGOs?
Scholars say the NGO sector tends to grow rapidly in countries that are recovering from war. James Kinobe, a PhD scholar at Makerere University, explains that when NRM came to power, it inherited a collapsed economy and a government with no structures. They did not have the capacity and resources to offer services at the time.
Consequently NGOs were given a green light to supplement government efforts. "NGOs played a key role in the recovery process of the country," Kinobe observes. The restoration of the rule of law and constitutionalism may also have contributed to the mushrooming of NGOs.
"Policy making was liberalised and made more participatory. This also constituted an enabling environment for NGOs to flourish and participate in policy making," Larok observes.

Early evolution of NGOs
The NRM's support for NGOs represents the culmination of a long history. In the early days of colonialism, the framework that various African communities used for self-governance and the provision of basic-needs was either destroyed or subordinated to colonial structures.
This was the case among various African communities until the colonial authorities authorised the construction of various facilities intended to supplement the efforts of the 'natives' in service provision. Throughout Africa, missionary organisations established institutions to provide services designed to meet basic needs services, especially healthcare and education.
The mission centres also became the only places other than urban and the European settled areas where clean drinking water could be found for the better part of the colonial period. The Protestant and Catholic missionary orders played a major role providing humanitarian assistance in the form of clothing, foodstuffs, and healthcare, especially for orphans and the destitute, who could not get assistance from the existing kinship networks.
In performing these services, missionary organisations would emerge as the most important non-governmental actors during the colonial period. "Prior to independence, in most African countries, the most prominent NGOs emanated from European settler society, missionary activity and grassroot society organisations, whose major concerns were welfare and religious activities," Kinobe says. The situation would, however, change after independence.

Post-independence period

In most African countries, a spate of new NGOs was formed around the time of independence. These organisations continued to grow in the post-colonial period. Since the 1980s, NGOs have mushroomed, doubling and tripling their numbers in many countries.
Social analysts cite the failure of government on the political and economic level as a major reason for the proliferation of NGOs. The growing stature of NGOs in development is related to the decline of the state as the dominant development actor in Africa.
There has been a shift since the 1970s in the attitudes of the donors and development policy-makers, away from the state-centered development models towards more participatory bottom-up approaches. As a result, the role of NGOs in the development of third world nations has grown rapidly. But the question is: Is the NGO sector sufficiently supervised to ensure that it is meeting the needs of Ugandans?



  2. this is very helpful and well researched. thanks for posting.