Mr. Johnson Lubega Kagugube.
Development Research and Training (DRT) is a non-governmental organisation contributing to elimination of poverty, especially chronic poverty in Uganda and the East African region. We do this through action research, policy engagement and capacity building efforts. Chronic poverty is a situation whereby an individual or group is in a state of poverty over an extended period of time.
Eliminating chronic poverty is still a big challenge in the region. Despite the impressive economic growth in the region over the years (GDP averaging at 5% in Kenya, 4.2% in Burundi, 6.8% in Uganda, 6.8 in Tanzania and 7% in Rwanda in 2012) there is a growing realization that a significant number of people, especially in Uganda (about 0.58 households), are still in chronic poverty. Although about 42% are out of poverty, they are still insecure and vulnerable to falling into poverty when shocks such as loss of employment, death or illness of a household bread winner among others strikes. The situation in other countries in the region is not any different.
East Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, recording a rise in foreign investments, productivity and increasing number of regional destinations that are attracting tourists from various parts of the world. In spite of this, poverty remains high across rural areas. Unemployment and under-employment remain high and the local work force across the region is unskilled and uncompetitive.
Basing on past experiences and lessons, DRT recognises that economic growth alone is not enough to tackle poverty and particularly severe and chronic poverty. From DRT’s close to 20 years’ experience in poverty research, tackling chronic poverty requires:
1. putting in place deliberate national social protection programs and systems to improve the economic and social security of the poorest, and support their efforts to create human capital and assets;
2. a significant investment in extending social services and redressing social exclusion;
3. prioritization of agriculture, as a sector that employs the vast majority of Ugandans, with emphasis on small holder farmers and revitalization of public agricultural extension system; and
4. creating enabling systems, opportunities and structures to facilitate poor peoples’ participation in influencing decisions at local and national level.
These are critical observations from the core of DRT’s 2012-2016 strategic plan. Our priority is put on five key result areas; Social Policy and Human Development; Governance and Transparency; Economic Policy and Livelihoods; Capacity Building & Institutional Development; and Open Development.
Under the result areas, we are targeting strategic outcomes which include;
a). increased availability and utilisation of social protection interventions;
b). increased access to health and education programmes by the chronically poor;
c). vibrant citizens with ability to demand for accountability;
d). open governance practices enhanced;
e). DRT developing into a reputable national think tank on chronic poverty research and analysis; and
f). enhanced employment opportunities for the vulnerable and chronically poor.
This demonstrates our determination to combat the key drivers of chronic poverty such as exclusion of the poor from key decision making processes, poor service delivery emanating from corruption and lack of transparency and accountability, unemployment, insecurity, rampant climatic shocks, income inequality and lack of social support.
DRT continues to use its three core approaches: action research, policy analysis and institutional capacity strengthening to meet the strategic objectives. We recognise the importance of strengthening mechanisms for effective and extensive utilization of evidence, generated through research.
I greatly appreciate the invaluable support received from various stakeholders in form of providing moral, financial and technical assistance. Together we can eradicate social exclusion, poverty and build resilience of those experiencing natural disasters like mudslides, floods, disease epidemics and famine among others.