Opinion
Busoga can overcome its predicament
Publish Date: Feb 21, 2014
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By Francis Mukunya

In recent times, the predicament facing Busoga sub- region has attracted a number of opinions. One of the most recent positions was by celebrated gospel artists, Judith Babirye.

She attributed it to a curse from God. In reaction, some people derided her position, and argued particularly that the jiggers problem needed good hygiene, and cemented floors etc.

It should be appreciated that, jiggers are not the only problem facing the sub- region. Indeed there are people who have taunted it as the capital of poverty.

Research data has also not helped matters. There are reports of high school drop out rates, high child abuse rates, and high domestic violence incidences, the list goes on.

The recent dent was in the just released 2013 PLE results, where Busoga had six of the 10 worst performing districts.

A comparative assessment of the Sub- region with other sub- regions in the country would show that Busoga has numerous advantages. It has a better road infrastructure. For instance, out of its 10 districts, six are connected by tarmac.

In addition, Busoga is the leading producer of the country’s sugar. It also produces most of Uganda’s electricity.

Further, aggregation of data from the UBOS 2013 statistical abstract, shows that Busoga is the leading producer of; maize, rice, and sweet potatoes.

Besides, it is also one of the major producers of many other cropsand products that include; coffee, cocoa, horticulture, poultry and fish. With its cool climate and beautiful sceneries, the area is a popular tourist destination. This is not to forget the noticeable manufacturing sector.

Regarding human resources, Busoga is not in short supply. Its parliamentary representation for instance, has generally retuned well educated and articulate members. Unfortunately for many, the glamour ends there.

When a region has all it takes to be prosperous, but it does not! Then one cannot help but concur with those who refer to it as a curse. So we perhaps do not need to totally dismiss Bibirye’s position.

Indeed, the phenomenon of curses and the associated remedial measures is well appreciated in all major faiths and our traditional societies.

However, it rarely finds space in modern public affairs discourse, because of the difficulty to adduce empirical scientific evidence.

That said, it was not until 1993, that British economist Richard Aunty coined the term the resource curse, to describe a related situation.

This is a paradoxical situation where countries or regions with abundance of natural resources tend to have less development outcomes compared those with fewer resources. And as recounted above, Busoga is not far from this picture.

Therefore, without discounting the other propositions earlier made, I suggest that the national and local leaders need to work together to find ways and means to address this disconnect between the resource abundance and the prevailing
unprecedented poverty.

Busoga being a small holder agricultural area, and in light of the current liberalised environment in the country, one critical issue is the need to build and support strong farmer organisations. This would strengthen the collective capabilities of the
people to enable them fully participate the value chains of each crop.

In the case of the maize crop for instance, the region should not be sending out maize gains, but  maize flour, animal feeds, eggs, poultry etc.

Ultimately, the breakthrough for Busoga will only happen when its people appreciate the great resource endowments bestowed on them by God; as sung in their anthem; and cultivate a mindset that inspires them to turn these advantages to
their benefit.

The writer is a a Development Economist from Busoga sub region

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