As we assess Uganda’s progress over the last fifty years of independence, we need to draw a distinction between processes and real outcomes. Often governments have recorded processes as outcomes thereby giving themselves underserved credit. Let me clarify with a few illustrations beginning with gender which is a cross-cutting issue.
We all know that Uganda girls and women face serious challenges. In order to address them, NRM government set up a ministry of gender and has until the recent cabinet reshuffle appointed a woman as minister in charge of gender affairs. The creation of the ministry of gender should not be recorded as an outcome but as part of a process towards addressing gender challenges. In order to get to real outcomes we need to ask to what extent has the ministry helped to reduce maternal mortality and domestic violence; empower women through education and gainful employment to take independent decisions that affect the quality of their lives. That way you can measure real outcomes.
Education is another illustration. Often, governments have measured construction of classrooms, provision of teachers, textbooks and other instructional materials, student enrollment and graduation as outcomes. What may appear as an outcome, say the graduation of students from university is actually one part in a chain of processes. A graduate student needs to get a job and remunerative income in order to improve the quality of life of his/her family through poverty reduction, decent housing and clothing, adequate and balanced diet that reduces or eradicates hunger etc.
Healthcare is another area where processes are often recorded as outcomes. Provision of hospitals, dispensaries and clinics, medical staff, medicines and supplies are means to prevent and/or cure disease. Therefore the outcome is the level to which diseases has been prevented from occurring by provision of mosquito nets, clean drinking water and good sanitation and cured when it occurs.
Overall processes in gender, education, healthcare, housing, food and nutrition security and clothing etc should result is significant improvement in life expectancy. We therefore need to record the net change in life expectancy since October 9, 1962.
Regarding political developments, conducting elections however regular and free and fair is a step in the right direction. However, in the end what is important is the extent to which elected representatives meet the terms of contract (what they agreed upon) with voters. Democracy isn’t just about voting in and out of candidates but about fulfilling promises during the campaign. In other words it is a measure of the extent to which promises were fulfilled such as facilitating creation of employment that enables constituents to earn good incomes with which to improve the quality of their lives.
In short, are Ugandans better off in quality of life in 2012 than they were in 1962? NRM assessment report should answer this question.
Secretary General & Chief Administrator, UDU