For the past two decades the degree of inequality in Uganda has been variable, mostly on the increase. By 2009, the country’s richest 10 percent earned 2.3 times more than the poorest 40 percent. While some progress may have been made in reducing income poverty during this same period, existing figures mask a lot of poverty dynamics and characteristics. With a very low poverty line an erroneous picture is given on the extent of deprivation. Second, the distribution of consumption in Uganda is very flat, implying that many households that are presumed to have ‘escaped’ poverty have a very high level of vulnerability.
This research project addresses three intersecting issues where it has been acknowledged that there is too little empirical knowledge: the transmission mechanisms linking global trade in agricultural products with poverty reduction; the functioning and significance of rural labour markets in low-income countries; and the labour market dimensions of Fairtrade certification. The Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda (FTEPR) research team, based at SOAS, University of London, set out to develop and apply innovative, careful research methods in order to gather analytically useful, policy relevant evidence on these issues.
The 2015 Human Development Report (HDR) Work for Human Development examines the intrinsic relationship between work and human development. Work, which is a broader concept than jobs or employment, can be a means of contributing to the public good, reducing inequality, securing livelihoods and empowering individuals. Work allows people to participate in the society and provides them a sense of dignity and worth. In addition, work that involves caring for others or voluntarism builds social cohesion and strengthens bonds within families and communities.
These are all essential aspects of human development. But a positive link between work and human development is not automatic. The link can be broken in cases of exploitative and hazardous conditions, where labour rights are not guaranteed or protected, where social protection measures are not in place, and when unequal opportunities and work related discrimination increase and perpetuate socioeconomic inequality.
At present, there are 48 countries designated by the United Nations as “least developed countries” (LDCs). These are: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.
The analysis of welfare using small area techniques can be a useful guide to policy to alleviate poverty. This is largely because poverty maps provide a geographic distribution of poverty and inequality, which may be useful in targeting programs to reduce poverty such as credit, health care and education. Information from poverty maps may also be useful in monitoring progress in addressing poverty and regional disparities and also, small area estimation may provide a guide to the geographical factors associated with poverty, such as topography, natural resource distribution, markets and climate.
Given the difficult global context, the continued resilience of economic growth in the Eastern Africa region has been quite remarkable. But this strong performance has increasingly been accompanied by growing (and sometimes quite vocal) concerns over the quality of the growth – particularly the extent to which growth has been conducive to broad-based poverty reduction and employment creation. Across the region, there is evidence to support the idea that, despite a much improved economic performance in the 2000s after two decades of economic stagnation, a lot of social and economic aspirations have still not been fulfilled. One example of this is that, although USD 1.25-a-day poverty has been reduced in relative terms in the region (from 65 per cent of the population in 2000 to 54 per cent of the population in 2011), the absolute number of citizens living below the international poverty line has actually increased, from 155 million to 166 million over the same period.
The East African Community (EAC) countries’ economic growth performance during the past decade has been impressive:1 at 6.2 percent, the EAC’s (unweighted) average growth rate in 2004–13 is in the top one-fifth of the distribution of 10-year growth rate episodes experienced by all countries worldwide since 1960. Such performance is even more remarkable taking into account that the past decade encompasses the global economic and financial crisis that began in 2007. Will this prove to be an isolated episode, with growth returning to lower levels in the years ahead, or is strong growth going to persist?
Inequalities in health status are large in most developing countries—especially in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the 2006 World Development Report—which focused on equity and development— most developing countries have large within-country variations in health indicators such as: maternal nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevalence, childhood immunization, malnutrition and infant mortality (World Bank, 2005). Indeed, it is perhaps in the area of child nutrition where inequalities are widest in sub-Saharan Africa. The 2007/2008 Human Development Report shows that for the 18 countries considered to have the lowest human development index, the stunting rates for the poorest children were more than 4 times those of children from the top quintile (UNDP, 2007).Stunting is caused by both poor nutrition intake and by repeated episodes of illness.1 As such researchers and policymakers have taken an increasing interest in the causes and effects of health inequalities. This is based on the realisation that livelihood opportunities are determined early in life and without addressing such inequities, health disparities could widen (World Bank, 2005).
Since the food price rises starting 2007 and the financial crisis that followed in 2008, the development community has been wrestling with the dual questions of threats to food security and the growing inequality accompanying economic growth. Almost all of the poverty and hunger is now concentrated in the low and lower-middle income countries of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, most of it in rural areas. In this paper we examine the performance of a selected number of countries in Asia and Africa by analyzing agriculture’s historic role in structural transformation. A paper drawing on the experience of 109 countries over a 30 year period with a focus on China, India, Indonesia and Brazil was prepared as an input into India’s 12th Five Year Plan in 2011 (Lele et al 2011). By extending that analysis to the East African countries, we demonstrate the extent to which the late developers of the East African Community face odds which are greater than those of densely populated Asian countries in achieving structural transformation. We further demonstrate the urgency of focusing attention on agricultural productivity growth as the critical ingredient for achieving food security, poverty reduction and overall economic development.
Income per capita in Uganda has doubled in the last 20 years. However, economic growth has been concentrated in non-tradable activities and faces challenges such as a growing gap between rural and urban incomes, a low urbanisation rate, rapid rural population growth and high dependency ratios. Structural transformation, with labour and resources moving to more productive sectors, remains in its early stages. The country is approaching an oil boom of uncertain size and duration, which presents possibilities for external sustainability, expanded income and infrastructure and a larger internal market.