updated 11 Jul 2001
There are 22 organizations taking an active part in SAPRIN and nearly 100 additional organizations affiliated through the Uganda National NGO Forum. These include associations of small-scale farmers, educators, health-care workers, women, youth and the disabled, as well as environmental, human rights and religious-based groups and development-related NGOs.
Regional structures have been formed and are active in 20 districts across the country. They are coordinated by a 16-member civil-society Steering Committee (CSSC). Two sub-committees, for Finances and Economic Literacy, function under the Steering Committee, and a Technical Committee of civil-society experts reports to the Steering Committee on its responsibilities in working with the government and the World Bank to design and oversee the research process. The CSSC delegated members to form the tripartite SAPRI National Steering Committee along with representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and the World Bank.
Steering Committee members:
World Vision, Moses Dombo
Technical Committee members:
The Ugandan SAPRI process began in January 1997 with a meeting convened by the African Women's Economic Policy Network (AWEPON) and attended by some 20 NGOs. The participants decided that the Uganda National NGO Forum, an umbrella group with nearly 100 members, should organize the initial stages of the local SAPRI exercise. In April 1997, the NGO Forum convened an outreach meeting that was attended by representatives of more than 70 organizations. A national conference was held in Kampala in August 1997 to publicly launch the tripartite initiative and was attended by a broad array of civil-society organizations, as well as government officials. It served to introduce SAPRI to the participants, form the civil-society Steering Committee and begin the process of selecting issues to be addressed during the exercise.
The NGO Forum subsequently expanded its outreach efforts by making special overtures, which proved to be successful, to the labor-union umbrella organization and by undertaking organizing efforts in all parts of the country. Regional outreach peaked in early 1998 when SAPRI civil-society teams visited 20 of Uganda's 45 districts to explain the exercise, solicit participation in the SAPRI process and gather views on adjustment-related issues. The teams specifically worked to include farmers, traders, artisans, housewives, civil servants, civic leaders, trade-union and cooperative members, middlemen, laborers and district officials. Two-day workshops were held in each district, in which approximately 1,000 people participated and contributed their ideas and experiences. These events were, in essence, hearings on citizens' perceptions of government policy, in general, and structural adjustment policies, in particular.
The Opening National SAPRI Forum was held on 18-19 June 1998 in Kampala. Approximately 250 people participated in the event, including civil-society representatives from every district, national trade-union representatives from the NOTU, and representatives of NGOs, key academic institutions and religious bodies, as well as members of Parliament, and representatives of various government bodies, the World Bank and the media.
The Forum was officially opened by the Minister of Finance, standing in for the President. Following the opening plenary, thematic discussions addressed citizen concerns in three policy areas: privatization; public-expenditure reform and social services; and the liberalization of trade and prices. These discussions were informed by a report on the issues raised by civil society during the outreach process, as well as by a report from the tripartite Information Team, which had commissioned consultants to review documents at the World Bank as part of the information-access process and to undertake a review of literature dealing with structural adjustment programs in Uganda. A report was prepared to summarize the Forum proceedings.
The research process encountered problems getting off the ground in 1999 as a result of inadequacies in the local civil-society team and the nature of the tripartite process. A small tripartite group had gone ahead and developed terms of reference (TORs) for the research without consultation with the civil-society network. Once the broader network became aware of the process and reviewed the TORs developed, these were deemed inadequate for carrying out the research process.
After a series of civil-society meetings, the country exercise was halted in order to sort out management problems, and the civil-society Steering Committee requested its chair to step aside while a reorganization was undertaken by the NGO Forum, the lead organization. In mid-1999, the civil-society Steering Committee was expanded, while its Technical Committee was reorganized and expanded to include the missing expertise that would more fully integrate a gender and political-economy perspective. The tripartite National Steering Committee was also reorganized, and a new Chair was selected.
In late 1999, the new civil-society Technical Committee reviewed and reworked the TORs prepared in the beginning of the year. A new draft was discussed and accepted by the tripartite Technical Committee and then given to the researchers who had been selected through a public bidding process earlier in the year. A national methodology workshop was held on 20-21 January 2000 with researchers and members of the tripartite Technical Committee to deepen understanding of the SAPRI methodology, during which the research proposals were reviewed and suggestions made for modifications. The Technical Committee worked in February to further refine the terms of reference, and contracts were signed with researchers in mid-March.
The three areas defined for field research were:
Field work took place in 20 districts across the country where the civil-society network has organized local structures. These districts were chosen from the country's total of 45 based on a series of criteria in order to represent the country's diversity, give voice to disadvantaged groups and include the major agricultural zones.
In addition, a fourth area of joint research was designed to explain the discrepancies among various measures and
perceptions of poverty. This was being undertaken as a desk study, however,
without engaging in field work.
A SAPRIN workshop was held on 18-20 September with civil-society leaders from all over the country, at which researchers presented preliminary findings for discussion and feedback. Based on these discussions and questions raised by the Technical Committee, researchers were asked to do additional work. Second drafts of the four studies of privatization, agricultural-sector liberalization, public-expenditure reform and perceptions of poverty were presented in December and January. A Technical Committee on 23 January reviewed these drafts and identified several gaps in research in each of the studies. Researchers were given a couple of weeks to do further work and the Second National Forum was scheduled for late February 2001.
During the outreach process prior to the Opening National Forum, the civil-society network recognized that citizens needed to be better informed about economic policymaking so they could participate in the policymaking process and provide meaningful input on policy impacts. An economic-literacy program was designed by civil society for that purpose. The objectives of the program are to empower organized citizens and develop skills that enable them to give feedback on the research process, thus helping to legitimize local knowledge. Materials are being developed, including brochures for distribution at the district level in four local languages, as well as English. A national-level training for trainers was organized in Kampala on 18-20 September 2000. Support was provided to those trained so that they could carry out workshops at the local level in the 20 districts where the civil-society network has organized local structures. The program also involved complementary activities such as radio programs and community/street theater.
Uganda's Second National Forum was held on 26-28 February 2001 at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel. It was well attended throughout, with an average daily attendance of 250 people. Grassroots groups from around the country and other civil-society organizations representing a wide range of sectors participated in the three-day event. The Deputy Secretary of the Treasurer, a senior official of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and the poverty analyst for the Ministry represented the Government of Uganda during the forum. The World Bank was represented by its country director, program manager and NGO officer.
Following the opening session, the four reports -- addressing the impact of privatization on society, the impact of liberalization on agriculture and food security, the impact of public-expenditure reform on access to and quality of education and health care, and the differences in perceptions of poverty -- were presented in plenary sessions and critiqued by qualified and well-informed discussants. After the plenary sessions, forum participants separated into four groups in which lively discussions took place to comment on the findings presented. Each group then reported back to the plenary with its feedback, which is to be incorporated into the final research reports.
A local theater group that assisted the civil-society network with its economic literacy program presented a lively and graphic illustration of the diverse social impact of structural adjustment in Uganda. The drama depicted the adverse impact of retrenchment policies on unemployment and the break-up of families, the coping strategies of individuals -- including prostitution and emigration and fraud, the problems of education and access to quality health care for the poor, and the effects of trade liberalization on local industry and displacement of local development priorities. The 90-minute-long play was full of humor and, at the same time, quite instructive in the clarity of the story it told about adjustment, the role of the World Bank in development in Uganda and the importance of the SAPRI exercise.
Following the Forum, a full report of the Forum proceedings was prepared and researchers were asked to incorporate changes into their reports based on input from the Forum. Finally, research reports were completed in the summer of 2001. Using these research reports and discussions at the Forum, a final country report was completed with the feedback of government and World Bank representatives.