Understanding the historical, social, political and economic context within which a development programme operates is vitally important. Context can influence the implementation and outcomes of an intervention, and identifying key contextual factors can help us interpret
how and why different changes take place over time. A political economy analysis (PEA) is a tool used to understand context, through the systematic exploration of the social, political, economic, cultural foundations and rules within which individuals and institutions operate. A
PEA examines the distribution of power and wealth between different groups and individuals, and the processes that create, sustain and transform these relationships over time. Using an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) PEA framework (Tembo, 2012), this paper explores, and seeks to understand, the context that will be influential in determining the implementation efforts and outcomes of the Youth Forward initiative in Uganda.
Youth Forward focuses on economically disadvantaged young people, aged 15-24, living in Ghana and Uganda who are low income (living on less than $2 a day), out of school, unemployed or underemployed and moving through a transition point in their life (e.g. seeking their first job, marriage, becoming head of household). The programme also recognizes that young women face particular social and economic challenges that require tailored interventions.
This paper first establishes the underlying cultural, political, economic and geographical factors, which still bear influence on Uganda today. This allows for the identification and exploration of contemporary economic and political developments. It then identifies key stakeholder groups with influence on the initiative’s progress, to locate entry points for Youth Forward to influence and shape local dynamics.
The Uganda context Post-conflict legacy of poverty and divisions
Uganda’s per-colonial kingdoms and their co-optation into the colonial state laid the foundations for the divisions and conflict that have plagued post-independence Uganda. While independence was achieved through largely peaceful means in 1962, this was followed by years of violence and civil war. The victory of the National Resistance Movement in 1986 and the peace it established was short-lived, as conflict broke out again in northern Uganda. Lasting peace was re-established in the region only in 2007. These conflicts have left a legacy of poverty, poor infrastructure development, mental health problems and divided communities in northern Uganda.