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uganda-political-mapPopulation: 36,345,860

HDI ranking: 161/187

HDI score: 0.456

Uganda’s decentralization process has included significant shifts from appointed local councils to popularly elected leadership boards. There is evidence that the country’s five-tier better enables the country’s government to include local citizens in decision-making processes.

Local governance at a glance

  • The local government is comprised of five different tiers of authority:
    • 111 district councils
    • 164 county and municipal councils
    • 958 sub-county and town councils
    • 5,238 parish councils
    • 57,364 village (rural) and ward (urban) councils
  • Upper level elections are conducted under a first-past-the-post system and candidates run on a party ticket.
  • Lower level councils are directly elected through a secret ballot (CLGF, 2011).

Civil society actors include

  • The Uganda National NGO Forum connects various organizations concerned with policy advocacy, capacity building, policy research and NGO mobilization in Uganda in one network.

Capacity building institutions

  • The Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA) hosts trainings for local government leaders to address their responsibilities as local councilors, how to conduct business pertaining to the local council, and planning and development.
  • Widespread use of the radio has strengthened transparency in decision-making and enabled citizens to participate in discussions surrounding local government and civil society issues via radio programs (JAALGS, 2012).

Fiscal control

  • The primary source of revenue for local government is in the form of grants from the central government. The allocation process is formula based, taking into consideration factors such as population, revenue per capita and area. In 2005, the share of local government in GDP was 7%. In 2008/2009, 12.3% of the total government expenditures were allocated toward the local government (CLGF, 2011).
  • Local government also raises money through a graduated tax (suspended in FY 2004-2005), market dues, licenses and fees, and in the case of municipalities, property tax and ground rent (World Bank, 2012).

Key Initiatives for participatory local governance

  • The Local Government Act 1997, lays out the structure for local governance; the decentralization policy is embedded in the Local Government Act (IFPRI, 2011).
  •  Within the past 10 years, the number of district councils has nearly doubled, increasing the participation on a local level.
  • The Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA) and The Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU) promote local participatory governance.
  • In 2010, the UAAU, the Municipal Development Partnership and the International City/County Management Association partnered together to assist the government in urbanization and in turn empower the local governments to reinforce active community participation (ICMA, 2013).
  • In 2006, Uganda implemented a local government program that incorporated a friendly competition amongst districts to incentivize communities to promote participation within local governments. With funds from the World Bank, Uganda’s Ministry of Local Government created an incentives system that has successfully improved the functioning of local governments across the country (World Bank, 2013).
  • Participatory budgeting efforts have been underway, and several committees – such as the Local Government Budget Committee and the Local Government Releases and Operations Committee – were established to assist with the decentralization of fiscal processes.

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • Uganda has faced challenges in balancing the acknowledgement of traditional leadership while bringing about decentralized government. Another challenge cited by this article is that only Sub-county and District level councils have political authority and the resources needed to provide public services (JAALGS, 2012).
  • Local governments are overdependent on grants from the central government since local governments have limited financial resources (IFPRI, 2011).
  • The IFPRI report addresses the problem of having too few qualified people to effectively deliver services to the people and carry out successful development projects. However, the central government is working on making trainings available to local governments to increase their capacity (IFPRI, 2011).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of Sources (in order of citation):

UN Human Development Index, 2012: “Uganda”

CLGF, 2011, “Uganda”

Journal of African & Asian Local Government Studies (JAALGS), 2012: “Decentralization and good governance in Africa: Institutional challenges to Uganda’s local governments”

World Bank, 2009 : “Local Government Discretion and Accountability: Application of a Local Governance Framework”

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2011: “Decentralization and rural service delivery in Uganda”

International City/Country Management Association (ICMA), 2010: “Strengthening Urban Local Governments in Uganda”

4 thoughts on “Uganda

  1. Uganda adopted a decentralized system of governance in part to stimulate co-governance so as to right the wrongs of the centralized system that NRM inherited in 1986. This new direction was also in tandem with the NRM 10-point programme. Overtime, administrative units increased and the result has to the contrary not been increased community participation in co-governance as is construed herein. It is not automatic that an increase in the number of elected leaders – representative participation – due to the LG fragmentation means increased participation of citizens in the envisaged co-governance. First, over the years turn-up for elections has grossly degenerated; meaning fewer and fewer people are participating. Second, LG planning is rather a preserve of elected leaders. From village to the national parliament, citizen engagement is low. Only a few interest groups are visibly active in this open-cum-invited space (again a representative participation!). An assessment conducted in Nebbi and Yumbe districts in West Nile revealed that <40% of adult population attend village meetings and this proportion drastically decline up the LG hierarchy to <5% at the district level. Often LLG and district level data are forged to avoid national assessment penalties. In part, planning up the ladder is "ring fenced" by rules of procedures that often gag the masses to simple listeners (of debating drama skills) than active participants (read politicians).

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  2. With a population projection at 28.2 million; (2002 Census), 87 per cent live in rural areas of which 73 per cent are engaged in agriculture. With its population growing at the rate of 3.2 per cent per annum, Uganda has one of the highest population growth rates in the world, higher than the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) average of 2.4 per cent. Eradicating poverty and attaining rapid, equitable and sustained economic development for social transformation remain Uganda’s major challenges to the achievement of MDGs.

    The analysis of the country’s regional distribution of the total rural and urban population reveals that 88 per cent of the population are rural dwellers, with both the eastern and western regions having the highest proportion of the population (93%) living in rural areas. The central region with 75% of the total population in rural areas is the most urbanized of all the regions followed by the north with 86 per cent of the total population in rural areas. Crop and livestock farming, and the extraction of aquatic and forestry resources employ 73.3 per cent of the working population. By comparison with other sectors, 66 per cent of the male working population is employed in agriculture compared to 5.8 per cent in industry and 28 per cent in services; and 81% of the female working population is engaged in agriculture compared to 3% in industry and 16% in services.


  3. The most chalking issue in the decentralization practice in uganda”s local governance is limited awareness of citizens in regard to their rights in strengthening services delivery and good governance .Since services in decentralization are rural and urban based being developed on participatory planning and budgeting principles for accountability,sustainability of projects being implemented at local levels.In kasese district most the farm work is done by women,the need to be helped to develop the skills in improved proved practices of agronomic,to increase production and incomes for better livelihood and education hence increasing popular economic participation of women as of the goals of decentralization.The limited skills in agronomic s challenges the livelihood of women in kasese.


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