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Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$2.50 purchasing power parity. Uganda has made significant progress in eradicating poverty and achieved the first millennium development goal of halving the number of people in extreme poverty.[1] Uganda was listed as the 9th most successful country in Africa as regards poverty eradication.[2] The percentage of Ugandans living in absolute poverty has been on a substantial decline, and the finance ministry in the country projected that the extreme poverty level will be reduced to 10% in the future.[1] This success has been attributed to the deliberate efforts to combat poverty in the country by numerous national strategies that are explained below.


The right to quality education, food, health, housing and work (adequate income) are economic and social rights that are used to measure the quality of life of a particular nation. Uganda scores 54.7% in its quality of life for 2017. This score shows how well Uganda is doing to ensure these rights and not the numbers or percentages of people.[3]

Lack of education in sub-Saharan Africa is a major determinant of extreme poverty. Uganda has made some progress in fighting illiteracy with current literacy levels at 76%.[1] Education is funded both by private means and by the government. With free primary and secondary education through the universal primary and secondary education over 90% of the population attains a primary education, however, the quality of education being offered is low according to a survey done by the world bank in the country in 2013[4]

On the right to education, Uganda is 65.3% of what should be possible at its level of income measured against its income-adjusted benchmark [5] The Rights Tracker by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative produces metrics for the full range of human rights listed in the International Bill of Human Rights.[6] For Uganda, the indicators used include the net primary and secondary schools enrolment rates provided by UNESCO.


Trends in reduction of extreme poverty and income inequality in Uganda from 1990 to 2015

Uganda has made progress towards poverty elimination having successfully achieved the millennium development goal target of halving the number of people in extreme poverty way ahead of the 2015 deadline. Today, an estimated 25% still live in extreme poverty but Uganda is on course to achieve its national target of reducing this number to 10% by 2017[7] Despite this progress, significant inequality still exists. Progress in reducing poverty has been very slow in the Northern and Eastern parts of Uganda and a 2016 poverty assessment report by World Bank indicates that the poverty rate in these two regions actually increased from 68% to 84% between the years 2006 and 2013. Whereas most of the progress in poverty reduction in Uganda has been realized from the monetary dimension, there are still huge challenges especially as regards the non-monetary dimensions of poverty such as access to safe water, clean energy, quality education and health care.[8] A civil society parallel report on the progress made by the country highlights the possibility of the above official figures to have been exaggerated[9]

The world's reduction of extreme poverty from 47% of the entire population in 1990 to 14% of the entire population has shown the possibility of eradicating extreme poverty from the world in the next generation.[10] With a 28% reduction, Sub-Saharan African region showed the least improvement in poverty eradication in the period from 1990 to 2015 compared to the other regions. Uganda has deferred from the general sub-Saharan trend by significantly reducing the proportion of the extremely poor to 25%. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative gives Uganda a 40% score with regards to absolute poverty.

National development Plan 1 (NDP 1)

This was a strategy initiated in 2010/11 to eradicate poverty in Uganda. It replaced the Poverty Eradication Action plan(PEAP). The NDP 1 focused on primary growth sectors that provide direct products and services and these include Agriculture, tourism, oil and gas, manufacturing, forestry, mining and ICT. Secondly, it focused on complementary sector which provides infrastructural support to the products;these include transport, energy and water, trade and financial services [11]

National development plan II (NDP II)

In June 2015, the government of Uganda and United Nations Developmental Assistance launched the NDP II to guide Uganda's path to poverty eradication. The main goal of the NDP II is to propel Uganda to the middle-income status with a GDP per capita of US$1,003.[12]

NDPII aims

To strengthen the country's competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth through:

Goals of NDP II by 2020

Main economic focus

Agriculture is Uganda's main economic activity. Twelve key agricultural products have been earmarked for investment: cotton, coffee, tea, maize, rice, cassava, beans, fish, beef, milk, citrus and bananas. On food security, Uganda scores a rate of 78.2 compared to what is possible at its rate of income.[14]

Uganda is commonly referred to as the pearl of Africa[15][16] because of its natural beauty. This often attracts tourists from all over the world. Improvement, diversification and aggressive marketing of the tourism sector has thence been highlighted in the second national development plan. The country will focus on the exploitation of iron ore, limestone ad marble, copper, cobalt, phosphates, dimension stones and uranium. In addition, the country's newly discovered 6.5 billion barrels of oil are to be exploited.

Right to Work and to earn an adequate income in Uganda

According to international law, everyone is entitled to the opportunity to gain a living by work that is freely chosen and "the right to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work". This includes "equal pay for equal work, the chance to earn a decent living for [ourselves] and [our] families, just and safe working conditions, and a reasonable limitation of working hours" (ICESCR, Articles 6 and 7). The Rights Tracker scores Uganda at 39.1%.[17] This right is measured using indicators such as the number of people above the relative poverty line, the number of people, the number of people above absolute poverty and the number of unemployed people.[18]

The poor and the rich

The distribution of the poor and the rich in Uganda and where the poor are most found in the country.[19]

1 Karamoja region 74%
2 West Nile region 42%
3 Lango and Acholi 35%
4 Eastern region 24.7%
5 Busoga 24.3%
6 Bunyoro, Tooro and Rwenzori 9.8%
7 Ankole and Kigezi 7.6%
8 Buganda region
Central Two 7.3%
Central One 3.7%
9 Kampala 0.7%

Distribution of the middle class

The Ugandan Middle class is distributed as below:[19]

1 Buganda Region
Kampala 89%
Central One 64%
Central Two 46%
2 Ankole And Kigezi 50%
3 Bunyoro, Tooro and Rwenzori 45%
4 Busoga Region 25%
5 Lango and Acholi 23%
6 Eastern Region 18%
7 West Nile region 17%
8 Karamoja region 9%


Inequality between the rich and poor at various levels of society remains a challenge, as is shown by the high inequality index as measured by the Gini, currently over 40%. Challenges highlighted by the first national development plan[20] continue to exist. These include slow growth in agricultural and industrial sector, low productivity growth in agriculture, poor mediation of capital by capital markets and the primary dominance of primary over industrial products.

See also


  1. ^ a b c United Nations Development Programme. "The Uganda 2013 Millennium Development Goals progress Report".
  2. ^ United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. "MDG 2014 Report" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Uganda - HRMI Rights Tracker". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  4. ^ World bank. "Quality of Uganda's education and Health services poses serious risk to long term economic progress".
  5. ^ "Uganda - HRMI Rights Tracker".
  6. ^ "Human Rights Measurement Initiative – The first global initiative to track the human rights performance of countries". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  7. ^ United Nations Development Fund. "Uganda MDG report 2013" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Uganda Poverty Assessment 2016: Fact Sheet".
  9. ^ 2013 common wealth foundation. "National report: Uganda" (PDF).((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ United Nations. "The Millennium Development goals report 2015" (PDF).
  11. ^ International Monetary Fund. "National Development Plan(2010/11-2014/15)" (PDF).
  12. ^ Republic of uganda. "Second National Development Plan 2015/16-2019/20(NDPII)" (PDF).
  13. ^ United Nations. "UNDAF Uganda,2016-2020" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Right to food - HRMI Rights Tracker".
  15. ^ Morgan, Kate. "Uganda: The pearl of Africa". Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  16. ^ Winston, Churchill S (2015). My African Journey. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781472586261.
  17. ^ "Uganda - HRMI Rights Tracker".
  18. ^ "Relative poverty - HRMI Rights Tracker".
  19. ^ a b "Distribution of the poor and the rich in Uganda". New Vision. Retrieved 2022-02-13.
  20. ^ International Monetary Fund. "Uganda: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper" (PDF).