By DEO WALUSIMBI
Uganda is on track to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at least going by statistics contained in the recently released second Voluntary National Review (VNR) report.
Uganda’s strength on SDGs lies in incorporation of agenda’s targets in its national development plans; NDPII (2015/16-2019/20), NDPIII (2020/21-2024/25) which are all anchored on Uganda’s Vision 2040 that envisions a transformed country.
President Museveni used VNR to report economy growth from $17.2bn in 2010/11 to $34.4bn in 2018/19. GDP per capita grew from $844 in 2011/12 to $878 in 2018/19.
Total exports and services grew from $3.83bn in 2010/11 to $5.3bn in 2017/18 in last five years when Uganda adopted SDGs.
Percentage of total national paved roads network grew from 8% in 1986 to 21.1% now. Electricity generation capacity increased from 601MW in 2010 to 1839MW in 2020.
Much strides were around SDG 1 (eliminating poverty), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) with average score of 75% whilst SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 17 (partnerships for the goals) scored an average of 70% Generally, Uganda was ranked 18th of 52 African countries by Sustainable Development Solutions Network after scoring 54.88% .
On this remarkable performance, I commend our government for commitment to attain SDGs but, the big question remains; are these beautiful figures on paper real in people’s lives?
Noteworthy, achievements were registered before COVID-19’s outbreak which has already wrought unprecedented disruptions of lives and economic activities, globally.
Government says, economy will grow at 3.1% not at projected 6% 8.7 million Ugandans lived below poverty line prior to COVID19, World Bank warned, 3.15m people are likely to fall deeper into poverty.
Other statistics have actually indicated, over 23m people approximately 63% of the population are vulnerable to poverty and figure is projected to increase to 30.6m by 2030.
With acceleration in climate change, reduced household incomes, loss of jobs in both formal and informal sectors, looming food insecurity, reduced demand for agricultural produce, disturbance of MSMEs’ activities, foreign direct investments and remittances of Ugandans abroad reduction , etc, we can only expect diminished SDGs’ implementation.
Whereas Uganda scored highly regards SDG 1, 4, 5, 16, 6, 8, and 17, COVID19 has wreaked some of them especially 1, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 17 with spike in GBV within homesteads coupled with surging teenage pregnancies and unpaid care work burden on women and girls.
The other SDGs which have been hit include; SDG 3 (good health), 13 (climate action), 2 (Hunger) 10 (reduced inequality), and 15 (life on land). Uganda’s health system which was already fragile and highly commercialized, starving people, and swell in land grabs by both moneyed and politically-connected individuals, COVID19 can exacerbate situation to SDGs’ detriment.
With COVID19, everyone is now aware of scandalous level of inequality and its painful consequences on people’s lives regardless of social-economic class, tribe, gender, religion or otherwise.
No one hasn’t tested COVID19’s wrath from majority poor to wealthy people to religious leaders to atheists to politicians to monarchists. But because we live in an extremely unequal society, most susceptible have felt the brunt. To me, all 17 SDGs are interconnected, but when some of them are fixed, they will lead to achievement of others.
I therefore, aver we’ll only achieve SDGs if we fight inequality first. It matters now than ever because we cannot achieve SDGs 1, 5, 8, 9, and 16, unless we have equal opportunities to access quality and affordable education (SDG4), health (SDG3) and food (SDG2).
No way can you create peaceful and inclusive society for development when some citizenry feel discriminated by often those with positions to take far-reaching decisions in everyone’s life.
I appreciate admirable efforts by all stakeholders; government officials led by President, UN agencies under effective coordination of the indomitable Rosa Malongo, both CSO and NGO actors towards SDGs’ implementation.
With setback occasioned by COVID19, we can only seek to build on your works to accelerate efforts during this decade of action to deliver SDGs by 2030 together, without leaving no one behind.
The writer is an advocate for equality and co-founder at @equalitynow_ug