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Ugandan Minister Urges Global Leaders to Prioritize Social Programs for SDGs Success

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New York, USA, 7th, February 2023.

The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development has urged world leaders to invest in programs that tackles the root cause of poverty, promote human capital development, targets social protection and safety nets for vulnerable people and provide decent jobs through relevant skilling programs if the world is to achieve the 2030 UN Agenda of SDG. This while presenting a paper at the UN HEADQUARTERS in NEW YORK.

Read the statement below:

STATEMENT BY HON. AMONGI BETTY ONGOM, MINISTER OF GENDER, LABOUR AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA; AT THE 62ND SESSION OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT; NEW YORK, TUESDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY, 2024

10:00AM-1:00PM, CONFERENCE ROOM 4

Madam Chair,

Allow me to congratulate you, and the entire members of the bureau, on your election to this commission on Social Development. My delegation offers you full support and cooperation.

Uganda appreciates this year’s theme of “fostering social development and social justice through social policies to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieve the overarching goal of poverty eradication.”

Uganda’s leadership at the political and technical levels embraced sustainable development right from the time of promulgation of the National Constitution which integrates key principles of social inclusion, promotion of the social rights to all, affirmative action policies for marginalized groups, balanced and sustainable development.

Uganda has further demonstrated commitment to sustainable development through strong support and approval of Uganda’s Vision 2040, the East African Community’s Vision 2050 and Africa’s Agenda 2063 – all of which strongly feature within Uganda’s second and current National Development Plan III; whose overall goal is to transition Uganda into a middle-income country, through strengthening Uganda’s competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth. Localization of the Agenda for Uganda is accordingly being cascaded to sectors and local government planning and implementation frameworks.

Through prudent macro-economic and social policies, Uganda successfully reduced the number of its citizens living below poverty line from 56 per cent in 1992 to 20 percent in 2022. Social protection is a critical component of Uganda’s national development strategy for inclusive socio-economic transformation as a strategic tool for reducing poverty, vulnerability, enhancing household resilience to shocks and supporting human capital development for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Our social protection policies are anchored on; a) increasing access to social security through direct and contributory schemes, b) enhancing care, protection, equal opportunities, affirmative action and support to vulnerable people; c) strengthening institutional frameworks for social protection delivery, targeting investments in human capital development d) appropriate measures to protect from risks and shocks, e) gender responsiveness, addressing vulnerabilities that affect boys and girls, men and women; and f) equity, inclusivity, human rights based approach, among others.

Uganda has further sustained active commitment to development cooperation at regional and international levels.

This is manifestated through our leadership role in shaping the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in July 2015, which provided the framework for financing of the agenda, under Uganda’s Presidency of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly; and providing global leadership in cascading implementation in many countries, now as Chair of the Non-Align Movement (NAM).

During our National Development Plan preparation, Uganda mainstreamed the SDGs into the national planning frameworks.

And in recognition of the importance of review and follow-up mechanisms, we strengthened the implementation and communication strategy for the current NDP and the Sustainable Development Goals prioritizing national and local level consultations on localization of the 2030 Agenda; National Information, Education and Communication campaigns; high-level policy dialogue engagements; institutional capacity development; and revitalised engagement with the private sector.

Nearly three decades on from the first United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 1992, Uganda remains steady in its commitment to sustainable development.

Results from the National Population and Housing Census reconfirm that this commitment is yielding desirable results. Between 1991 and 2014, life expectancy rose from 48.1 to now 64.3 years; infant and under-five mortality rates dropped from 122 and 203 deaths per 1,000 live births to the current 39.171 deaths per 1000 live births; orphan hood levels dropped from 11.6 to 6.0 per cent; literacy levels rose from 54.0 to 79 per cent; income poverty declined from 56 to 20.3 per cent; access to electricity – a factor that impacts heavily on the environment in Uganda – increased from 5.6 to 20.4 per cent; and the proportion of the national budget that is funded from domestic sources stands at 53 per cent.

Further, our lion’s share of the national budget is usually allocated to social programs; free universal primary and secondary education (UPE&USE), basic health improvement programmes, water and sanitation, rural roads, and rural agricultural modernisation.

Others include: Social Assistance Grant for older persons, empowerment of women, youth, PWD, with programs such as; Uganda women’s entrepreneurship program (UWEP), Generating growth, Productivity and opportunities for women entrepreneurs (Grant from WB of USD217M), The climate Resilient Livelihood Opportunities for women economic empowerment, Parish Development Model, Emyooga, Operation Wealth Creation; Universal Primary and Secondary Education; the Youth Livelihood Program; the Higher Education Students Loan Scheme; the Legal Aid Programme, Special grant for PWD & older persons; Community Tree Planting Project; and the Skilling Uganda Program.

These programmes have been implemented since the 1990s to reduce poverty which in 1992 averaged 56.4 per cent. Other anti-poverty policies implemented by government over the years included; administrative and political decentralisation to take social services nearer to the people and deliver them more efficiently and effectively, liberalisation of the economy, gender economic and social empowerment programs, micro-credit schemes targeting the ‘active’ poor, social security for the aged poor, and the youth livelihood improvement programmes , among others. Uganda’s approach to social interventions towards pro-poor and inclusive development has thus, been institutionalised within our development frameworks such as National Development Plan III to implement social programmes geared towards improving citizen’s welfare.

These have been delivered through centralized allocation of resources to key social sectors that directly benefit the poor and vulnerable groups using macroeconomic instruments of taxation and incentives to stimulate investments in pro-people sectors.

Further, Uganda has harness multilateral programs from multilateral agencies like World Bank, IMF, Africa Development Bank, Exim Bank and UN agencies to enhance the welfare of the poor people. Such agencies provide a lot in areas of bilateral and multi-lateral interventions which has extended substantial grants and loans to assist us to enhance our economy and subsequently improve the wellbeing of the citizens. We continue to work closely with CSOs (NGOs, CBOs and informal self-help groups) who uses social empowerment approaches that involve social mobilisation, organisation, and conscientisation after which training and resources are given to engage in life improving activities.

National Capacity
Over the years, Uganda has made efforts to enhance its national capacity to formulate and implement development policies, plans and programmes. However, the ambitious and comprehensive nature of the 2030 Agenda requires further enhancement of national capacity on how best to steer inclusive development across time, sector, social demographics and regions of the country. Key among these are: strengthening institutions; financing mechanisms; rallying the private sector, civil society, citizens and other partners towards implementation; and public private partnerships.

Uganda has developed a National Standard Indicator Framework to track progress towards attainment of middle-income status. Through these instruments, the implementation of SDGs has been monitored, evaluated, and reported on. The existing legal, policy, and institutional frameworks provide an enabling environment for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Uganda has introduced a number of reforms and pieces of legislations that has facilitated the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Chief among them is the Equal Opportunities Act, The Public Finance Management Act (2015), the Public Private Partnership Act (2015), Public Procurement and Disposal Act (2014) the Financial Institutions Amendment Act (2015), and the Registration of Persons Act (2015), among others.

To strengthen implementation and improve institutional functionality, Uganda has undertaken a number of reforms; including, the establishment of institutional coordination mechanisms on SDG in Prime Minister’s office, the issuance of certificates of compliance of the national and budgets to the NDP, certificate of compliance to gender and equity, and is gradually shifting from output-based to programme-based budgeting.

In conclusion, the Government of Uganda re-affirms its commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development ensuring that no one is left behind; and recognizes the remaining challenges that require concerted efforts and partnerships to facilitate attainment of the desired development goals and targets. Uganda intends to leverage its regional, continental and multilateral leadership to partner with the international community in delivering this global development agenda.

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