By Christine B. Ayebazibwe
In September 2000, Uganda participated at the World summit which adopted the Millennium Declaration that set forth eight chapters. These gave rise to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
By embracing the millennium campaign, Uganda committed herself to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development, all by the year 2015.
In light of the fact that the National Development Plan (NDP) is Uganda’s overall development strategy, aligning the NDP I priorities with some of the MDGs demonstrated Uganda’s willingness to embark on the journey to realising these goals.
Key among the MDG-responsive objectives of the NDP I were; improving the quantity and strengthening the quality of human resource with focus on health, education and skills development; emphasising the quality of education and the moral aspect of education, as well as rehabilitation of referral hospitals and extending services nearer to the people. Motivation of health staff was also prioritised in the plan.
The proposed investment in health was anticipated to significantly improve the health indicators- notably the maternal mortality rate, under five mortality rate and life expectancy.
The above, coupled with the formation of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on the MDGs in 2007, whose mandate was to ensure that Uganda complies with her commitments towards realisation of the MDGs, set the foundation for propelling Uganda to the top.
Today, 15 years later, as we end the MDGs era and embark on a journey to developing and implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), Uganda’s performance has been quite impressive, even in comparison with some of her East African counterparts.
According to the MDG 2014 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa together with the African Union, African Development Bank Group and the United Nations Development Programme on assessing progress in Africa toward the MDGs, Uganda is only 5% away from attaining the target on poverty reduction whereas the poverty situation in Kenya has worsened.
Indeed the Uganda Poverty Status Report (November 2014) states that 19.7% Ugandans were poor in 2012/13 down from 33.8% in 1999/2000.
By 2011, Uganda was only about 15% away from achieving the net enrollment target in primary education and the primary school completion rate was above 50%. Births attended to by skilled health personnel in Uganda were approximated at 57.4 and as of 2013, the country was on track to reducing infant mortality rates. The country has also already achieved a more than 95% reduction of use of ozone-depleting substances which is a plus on the MDG of environmental sustainability.
Nonetheless, there still remains a lot to be done since in some instances, the desire to achieve the MDG targets has been inclined toward quantitative rather than qualitative methods.
This is true for UPE where the increase in enrollment has not been matched with the requisite resource allocation to aid realization of quality in the learning and teaching milieu. In order to realise positive change, it is critical that the leading proponents of change in this sector like human resource and infrastructure are enhanced.
Despite a significant decline in the maternal mortality rate, Uganda can potentially prevent more maternal deaths which are for the most part preventable, for instance the deplorable habit of extorting money from patients in government health centers, which is in most cases a pre-condition to receiving medical attention.
It is, therefore, imperative that the learning from the implementation of MDGs informs our next steps moving forward into the SDGs phase.
The writer works with Uganda Debt Network
Assessing Uganda’s performance towards achievement of MDGs