Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Green Shoots" of Economic Development in Uganda: are they sustainable?

When economic data showed signs of future recovery from the credit crisis in the US this spring, many economist started talking about "green shoots" of economic growth (similar to green shoot of spring plants appearing after the winter). As we drove to Mbarra today I started thinking about similar evidence of future growth in Uganda. I have been on this road four of the last five years and there has been drastic change in just the last year. During the trip today I noticed a large increase in the truck traffic compared to past years. Not only has the truck traffic increased, the type and size of truck has also changed. The trucks are now larger and more modern. This is definitely a sign on increased economic activity. However there has been a huge cost associated with the truck traffic. The condition of the road has been greatly impacted by the heavier loads carried by these trucks. To put it simply a large section of the road is barely usable. Work to repair the road has started and there was much debate among our Ugandan colleagues concerning the pace of the road work and its chances for success. The impact of the increased trade activity started me thinking about the difficult balance between economic growth and its potential impact. While the increased truck activity is a great sign it also has caused some serious short term problems and potential long term problems (increased pollution, the impact on small communities and trading posts along the road as speed of traffic increases, possible impact on wildlife etc.). This is obviously a good example of the type of topics we are studying and I would like everyone to look for other "green shoots" of economic development and comment on their sustainability. Focus on whether or not the green shoots of growth you observe will develop into "mature plants" that build a foundation for the future. Make sure to mention whether the political and/or cultural aspects of Uganda may help of hinder your signs of growth in there development and recommendations you have to help them fully mature.

Thursday, May 28

I am a little bit late on my post due to some bad luck with the internet. I had yet to see Shannon’s post when I wrote mine so I apologize if ours are repetitive..

On Thursday, March 28th, we went to the Human Rights House for a lecture and then went back to MUBS for a presentation from an official working in the Ministry of Health on HIV-AIDS in Uganda. I think most students found the Human Rights talk very beneficial, informative, and intriguing. Sewanijana was a great speaker and was the first to offer some straightforward answers to the problems in Uganda, of which he clearly articulated for us. He touched on many different human rights that are guaranteed for Ugandan citizens in the Bill of Rights in the 1995 Constitution, but in practice are not wholly enjoyed by the people. He informed us of where the problems lie in making sure the rights get to the citizens. Some of them lie in the electoral process and civil education, to name a couple, but most of the problem lies in the government institutions. Sewanijana said that the problem of poverty and underdevelopment in this country is bad governance. One example of the current administration’s bad governance is it’s wasteful spending of public money on an extreme excess amount of government officials when there are issues such as education, health, infrastructure, poverty alleviation to deal with that are in dire need of funding. The answer to the problem he gave us is in a good leader with the right administration.
The speaker from the Ministry of Health touched on a lot of information pertaining to AIDS, especially the transmission of the disease and prevention methods. He provided us with a lot of empirical data and came very prepared with a power point presentation.
After a long day of lectures, it was a challenge to find the energy to play a full-field game of ‘futbol’. However, ‘Team Muzungu’ (as Austin coined it) came up on top with a surprisingly quality performance by all members (and fans), winning the match 3-2. I was particularly surprised with Quint’s superb defending abilities- well done! J
Oh! I almost forgot… I think I speak for all when I say that I am anxious to be inspired again by another one of Jess’s original raps, now that ‘we know’ he’s has got some flow.. I am hoping that by the end of the trip, he will have enough tracks to make an album dedicated to our Ugandan experience. Jess- if you run into any writer’s block along the way- let me know. I happen to be pretty good at writing rhymes myself.. J
To wrap this up, I guess I am just curious to see what everybody else gathered as important information from the Human Rights lecture. I heard a lot of positive things about it from many students- what did you all take away from it? Has anybody else come to a new understanding of how particularly essential a transparent and fair election process is in order to have good governance, and therefore, sustainable development?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Family Photos

It seems like our trip family has grown over recent days. Today we went on the "Rural Visit" where the students are hosted by rural farmers and shown the crops they produce and the techniues they use. Soon detialed posts will be finsihed by the students, i just wanted to post two new family photos. one with the students, the host families, and a small group of grandchildren of our hosts who performed a welcome song. The other is the students, one of our hosts and children from the village who joined us on a walking tour of the village after a wonderful lunch. I also want to thank our host families again: the tours were great, the food was delicious and our discussion was very informative for the students and enjoyable. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes and taking the time to talk to students from Drake University! I am looking forward to hearing the thoughts of the students and the comments.

Microfinance

I just want to thank Quint for putting all of the information that I was going to put in my blog. So, I will try to take the microfinance topic on a new level.

As Quint mentioned, one of the aims of microfinance is to inject capital into the economy and allow poorer individuals and companies to grow. It allows the poor farmer to buy another cow so that he can better feed his family. It allows the small company to slowly expand so that they can make more money and be more profitable. Overall, I was very impressed with the presentation and discussion that we had at Brac and left feeling very optimistic for the economy of Uganda because I knew that some individuals were actually trying to fix some of the problems in the economy.

But, after we left and I had some discussions with the professors, I am starting to question how big of an impact microfinance will have on this economy. First, lets back up and look at some basic information. The banks in the area charge 22% per year for a loan. That is a very expensive form of financing and it is very unlikely that you will be able to invest in a project that will be able to return to the company or individual 22%. Now, we look at microfinancing and Barc in particular. They only charge 1.8% interest. This obviously sounds like a better option, until you learn that it is 1.8% per month, or compounded annualy to roughly 28%. The better thing about the microfinancing is that it requires no collateral and if you cant pay, its not as big of a deal, or thats what I took away. Also, you are obtaining credit that you may not have otherwise been able to before.

Now, I get to my point. Microfinancing is about sustainability. Its the fact that you can obtain financing and education to stabalize your family's finances or your business so that it exists in the future. But, how much good is this doing? This country lacks a serious infrastructure and supply chain program so its hard to ship products out of the country. So, even though you are able to grow your company, you are still going to hit a glass ceiling. So, my question for you guys is this: Should microfinancing firms, like Barc, reconsider what firms they give money to? Should they select firms that help with infrastructure to help grow the country? Or, should they stick to their current stategy? So basically, what can microfinancing firms do to make this country more sustainable through financing? And what do you think about the interest costs? Is the high interest rates hurting or helping the country?

Hope you guys are enjoying your trip:)

Is Microfinance Playing it's role in Sustainable Development in Uganda?

Going back to the Theme of the Tour above; many of you are divided whether Microfinance is really having an Impact. I will not point out which side i fall but rather goon ad see if we can stimulate debate about the above Question.
What is Sustainable Development? Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. As early as the 1970s "sustainability" was employed to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems."Ecologists have pointed to the “limits of growth”and presented the alternative of a “steady state economy” in order to address environmental concerns.
The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability.The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development lists the following areas as coming within the scope of sustainable development:[11]
Agriculture
Atmosphere
Biodiversity
Biotechnology
Capacity-building
Climate Change
Consumption and Production Patterns
Demographics
Desertification and Drought
Disaster Reduction and Management
Education and Awareness
Energy
Systems ecology
Finance
Forests
Fresh Water
Health
Human Settlements
Indicators
Industry
Information for Decision Making and Participation
Integrated Decision Making
International Law
International Cooperation for Enabling Environment
Institutional Arrangements
Land management
Major Groups
Mountains
National Sustainable Development Strategies
Oceans and Seas
Poverty
Sanitation
Science
SIDS
Sustainable tourism
Technology
Toxic Chemicals
Trade and Environment
Transport
Waste (Hazardous)
Waste (Radioactive)
Waste (Solid)
Water
Sustainable development is an eclectic concept, as a wide array of views fall under its umbrella. The concept has included notions of weak sustainability, strong sustainability and deep ecology. Different conceptions also reveal a strong tension between ecocentrism and anthropocentrism. The concept remains weakly defined and contains a large amount of debate as to its precise definition.

While many factors contribute to poverty, its most obvious manifestation is
insufficient household income. Both the extent of income-generating opportunities
and ability to respond to such opportunities are determined to a great degree by access
to affordable financial services. Increasing the access of poor households to microfinance1
is therefore being actively pursued worldwide. Once almost exclusively the domain of
donors and experimental projects, microfinance has evolved during the last decade with
prospects for viability, offering a broader range of services and significant opportunities
for expansion.
Development practitioners, policy makers, and multilateral and bilateral lenders,
recognize that providing efficient microfinance services is important for a variety of
reasons. Improved access to microfinance services can enable the poor to smoothout
their consumption, manage their risks better, build their assets, develop their microenterprises,
enhance their income-earning capacity, and enjoy an improved quality of
life. Microfinance services have a significant positive impact on the depth (severity)
of poverty and on specific socio-economic variables such as children’s schooling,
household nutrition status, and women’s empowerment.
Despite this, about 95 per cent of some 180 million poor households in the
Asian and Pacific region still have little access to affordable institutional microfinance
services. Significant resources are required to meet the potential demand. This
chapter argues that on the supply side there is a need to build microfinance systems that
can grow and provide microfinance services on a permanent basis to an increasing
number of the poor through domestic resource mobilization. On the demand side, there
is a need to invest in social intermediation to enable the poor to optimally utilize
microfinance services.


The microfinance institutions and other microfinance providers have expanded
their outreach from a few thousand clients in the 1970s to over 10 million in the late
1990s. The developments in microfinance in Asia and the Pacific have set in motion a
process of change from an activity that was entirely subsidy dependent to one that can
be a viable business.
(a) The myth that poor households cannot and do not save has been shattered.
Savings can be successfully mobilized from poor households.
(b) Poor, especially poor women, have emerged as creditworthy clients, enabling
microfinance service delivery at low transaction costs without relying on
physical collateral.
(c) Microfinance services have strengthened the social and human capital of the
poor, particularly women, at the household, enterprise and community level.
(d) Sustainable delivery of microfinance services on a large scale in some
countries has generated positive developments in microfinance policies,
practices and institutions.
(e) Microfinance services have triggered a process toward the broadening and
deepening of rural financial markets.
Of Course Microfinance cannot go without it's criticism...but if Foreign AID does not trickle down to it's intended recipients what is the Alternative.
BRAC is just one of the many MFIs operating in Uganda we need to debate about and it's impact in sustainable development.
So Lets decide when should we have the Debate?

Friday, May 29, 2009

BRAC

I was hoping to hear some of the groups thoughts about the benefits (or maybe issues they had) with the BRAC group today; maybe about the future they see the organization have in the development of Uganda and its other client countries. I myself thought it is the most beneficial thing so far to the effort of sustainable development. I know a lot of won’t understand how they can meet their costs with a 1.8% monthly borrowing rate. Frankly I won’t try to explain that because I would never do it justice. I would just tell you to ask Korey. Though back to the program. What we saw today was the direct promotion of sustainable development. Many microfinance firms are criticized that they become no different than banks. The BRAC group though not only offers microfinance services but it offers such a large amount of hugely beneficial education programs; education programs that improve the ability of the clients to carry out their business. Not only does it provide the monetary capital for clients to further their business it provide them the intellectual capital as well. This establishment of sustainable businesses I believe is the most important factor in the success of the whole sustainable development effort. Currently you have the issue that because the people have so little money, most of the businesses are capstoned and can’t move beyond a rundown, family-run shack selling secondhand goods. As a result they are no new jobs created and no new money is made hence the 65% unemployment rate and 31% below the poverty line of $1 a day. Due to the lack of money a brain drain is created were in the really quality teachers and doctors leave the country where there services will be better compensated. But if you stimulate the economy you create a need for more jobs and more money to be spent equaling a decrease in the unemployment and poverty. Further a country whose people can afford to pay its educated will allow them a reason to stay and benefit the society with their services.

SPEECH BY PRESIDENT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

UGANDA

Statement

by

H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002


Your Excellency Thabo Mbeki,
President of the Republic of South Africa;
Your. Excellencies, Heads of State and Government Mr. Kofi Annan,
Secretary General of the United Nations; Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I thank His Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki, and the peoples . of South ; Africa for the warm welcome accorded to my delegation and myself since our arrival. I wish also to thank Mr. Koffi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations and his staff for organizing this Summit.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) , is a milestone, in reaffirming our resolve for achieving, global sustainable development. Issues that have hitherto remained constraints must be shared and addressed if we are to make sustainable development a reality.

Our experiences in working towards this goal should form the basis on which we work out, in strategic partnership,- practical ways of implementing Agenda 21 - especially issues pertaining to water, energy, health, agriculture, biodiversity, environment, poverty, education, children and gender.

In spite of our declaration in Rio in 1992 to:

  • eradicate poverty;
  • give priorities to developing countries;
  • recognize the common but differential -, responsibilities of states
  • integrate environment and development;
  • ensure equity, for sustainable development
Many of these principles remain unfulfilled by all of us.

Our failure to implement the ,agreed upon areas hinges on the following:

• lack of time-bound targets in programmes;
• lack of clear roles and responsibilities for states and organizations;
• the lower than expected financial resources availed, despite ODA targets agreed upon:
• a. parasitic trading system in the world, skewed against Africa.

Africa therefore continues to struggle in her quest develop and modernize herself, faced with major issue that affect her development.

Poverty is a -major 'challenge, leading to overuse and destruction of our natural resources where short-term developmental goals' are pursued, at the expense. of sustainable development.

In Uganda, poverty eradication is high on our development agenda: We formulated the; Poverty Eradication Action 'Plan (PEAP). This PEAP aims at reducing ab absolute poverty , levels from 55% as they were in 1987, or lees by by 2017; we have so far, reduced it to 35%.

Deliberate efforts have been., made to eradicate poverty by: -

  • provision of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and;
  • basic health services;
  • modernizing agriculture;
  • promotion of. better land tenure systems;
  • diversifying the 'economy;
  • building basic rural infrastructure; and
  • strengthening good governance and security.
In the Book of St. Luke, Chapter 10, from Verse 25, it says "Behold, a certain lawyer tested Jesus saying that, ` Teacher, What shall I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus answered him: `Love your neighbour as you love yourself, and love the Lord your God wit all your heart'. He pointed out to the questioner that these two were the greatest laws of God." All others came from those. Similarly, this summit needs to ask itself "What Do we need for mankind to get out of the Kingdom of underdevelopment and for all of mankind to get out of profligacy and the squandering of natural resources so that we, together, enter the Kingdom of Sustainable Development for all?"

My short answer then would be as follows: You need to do four things:

• human resource development (education and health);
• liberalizing the economy with the state providing the necessary stimuli;
• macro-economic stabilization (controlling inflation, etc); and
• free access to markets (abolish protectionism).

All the other solutions will come from these.

Since this is a world conference, I need to emphasize the importance of market access for African goods to lucrative markets of the OECD Countries as well as rationalizing and consolidating this African market, small though it still is.

The other danger to sustainable development is the greed and insensitivity of the consumer societies of the OECD Countries. 68.4%.(1990) of the Greenhouse gases are generated in these Countries. If you add the figures for Russian Federation (17%), the total will be 86%. It is these gases that are responsible for the warming of the globe. This irresponsible parasitism must stop.

The internal weaknesses in Africa on the one hand and the double standards of the OECD Countries (they preach free trade but practice protectionism) on the other hand, ensure that the underdeveloped parts of the globe, Africa, inclusive, destroy the environment on account of poverty and ignorance.

The peasants destroy the biomass in search of wood fuel, this exposes the top soil to wind and water erosion of the soil; it also causes the silting of the floors of the water bodies. These are two sides of the same coin: underdevelopment and over- utilization; under consumption and over consumption (gluttony).

In order to cure these two mega-distortions on the globe we, therefore, need to, on the one hand, banish all methods and practices that can cause such distortions (greenhouse gases, polythene bags, etc.); and, by using market mechanisms, end the under consumption of the famished, under-developed parts of the globe (market access, etc.).

Only more consumption of electricity in the backward parts of the globe will end soil erosion and the loss of the biomass. Therefore, the arrogant so-called Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that interfere with the construction of hydro dams in Uganda are the real enemies of the environment.

In Rio, I pointed out that the peasants in Uganda were destroying 28 billion cubic metres of wood per annum; using it as firewood. In order to stop
this, we need to generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity. Therefore, the world needs more electricity, not resolutions.

I thank you.

http://www.un.org/events/wssd/statements/ugandaE.htm


Kampala City

Fondly known as the green city in the sun, Kampala commercial and administrative capital of Uganda. Spread over more than twenty hills, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa.
Its architecture is a mixture of the modern, the colonial and the Indian. Its roads are its two million inhabitants.
Sitting at an altitude of 1,180m above sea level, it enjoys pleasant weather, with annual temperatures averaging 17 degrees Celsius (minimum) and 27 degrees Celsius (maximum).
To the south is Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water lake and the source of the longest river in the world, the River Nile.
The history of Kampala, like that of many other cities in the world, is wrapped in both folklore and historical facts.
According to folklore, swamps and hills dominated much of the area where it presently stands.

This made it an ideal habitat for Impala and other members of the antelope family. The animals grazed on the slopes of the hills and came down to the swamps for water. The palace of the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, located on the landscape rich in Impala herds. The king thus turned it into his hunting grounds.
Folklore merged with history when the British Empire builders arrived at the end of the 19th century.
“Impala” was the English name for that particular antelope family. So the British referred to the area as the “hill of the Impala”, which the Baganda translated into Luganda as “kasozi k’empala” and eventually “kampala”. Kasozi means hill.
So whenever the kabaka left the palace to go hunting his favorite game, royal courtiers would say “the kabaka has gone to Kampala to hunt”, thus the name was born.
The tag “the hill of the Impala”, however, specifically referred to the hill on which colonial victory, Captain Fredrick Lugard, of the Imperial British East African Company, established base in 1890.
Now known as Old K'la, this hill would be the administrative headquarters of the company (and Uganda) until 1894 when the administrative headquarters of the British Protectorate were transferred to Entebbe.
In 1962 upon attainment of independence, it regained its status as the capital of Uganda. From a small hamlet occupying 19 square kilometers, it had spread to seven hills by the time of independence, earning the tag “city of seven hills”.

The original seven hills are: Mengo, Rubaga, Namirembe, Makerere, Kololo, Nakasero, and Kampala (Old K'la).
Today, greater Kampala stands on at least 21 hills. We take you through the prominent hills that form the modern day capital and their signature to the city’s political and socio-economic life, starting with the original seven.

The main campus of Makerere University, one of East and Central Africa's premier institutes of higher learning, can be found in the Makerere Hill area of the City. Kampala is also home to the headquarters of the East African Development Bank, located on Nakasero Hill.

Like many cities, Kampala is said to be built on seven hills, although this isn't quite accurate.

  • The first hill in historical importance is Kasubi Hill, which is where the Kasubi Tombs of the previous Kabakas are housed.
  • The second is Mengo Hill where the present Lubiri (Kabaka's Palace) is and the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice and of the Lukiiko, Buganda's Parliament.
  • The third is Kibuli Hill, which is home to the Kibuli Mosque. Islam was brought to Uganda before the Christian missionaries came.
  • The fourth is Namirembe Hill, home to the Namirembe Anglican Cathedral. The Protestants were the first of the Christian Missions to arrive.
  • The fifth is Rubaga Hill, where the Rubaga Catholic Cathedral is, and was the headquarters of the White Fathers.
  • The sixth Nsambya, was the Headquarters of the Mill Hill Mission. It now houses Nsambya Hospital.
  • The seventh, the little hill of Kampala, the hill of the Impala is where the ruins of Lugard's Fort were. However, the ruins were recently destroyed (2003), when the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) started on reconstruction of a 15,000-seater mosque on land that included the fort. The mosque was begun by Idi Amin but was never completed. The fort was then re-located to a nearby area (a new and similar one constructed), a move that has since been a source of controversy between The Historic Buildings Conservation Trust (HBCT) of Uganda and the UMSC. The UMSC was given the gazetted land as a gift by President Idi Amin in 1972 during its inauguration. This hill is where Kampala got its name.

The City spread to Nakasero Hill where the administrative centre and the wealthiest residential area is.

Uganda's Killer Croc and the Famous GUSTAVE







Uganda's killer Croc...now kept at Uganda Crocodile Farm. This Croc killed more than a dozen People in Mayuge; it terrorised villagers for more than a decade.The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) says the crocodile is thought to be 60 years old and weighs about 1,000kg. It's habitat had been invaded by the Humans. Extreme left is Gustave..the most feared croc on the African Continent. Gustave is on the banks of river tangayika in Burundi and has killed many people in Burundi.








One Week in Uganda

It's now one week since you came over in Uganda. To some of you, you are still adapting to our culture and customs. Have you realised we are soft spoken..you have to get us shouting to hear what we are saying! OK..football treat. Two of you ventured out to see the Barcelona Man UTD game and saw how the crowd wows to a soccer Game! The place is called Bamboo..one of the popular bars. Week two is gonna test your resilience..it is fun packed but exciting as we go down to the South west. Can somebody remind me about the stop sign count...and afew of you are now experts at crossing our roads. Watch the motorcycles thoug. Cheers!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Team Blue Wins 3-2 Over Home Team

Today the academic portion of our day included two inspiring talks, one during a visit to the
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and the other by an official from the Ministry of Health. Rachel and Shannon, who are Teammates with Crystal on the Drake Womens soccer team, will post blogs on the academic portion soon.
Given the importance of soccer in Uganda and the expertise in our group we thought it would be fun to organize a"friendly" with some of the MUBS students. The weather was perfect -- about 75 F with no wind, for a 5:30 start on campus at a field commonly used for pickup games. Crystal, Rachel and Shannon were joined by Brooke, Eric, Jennifer, Quint, Franklin, Scott, and some local
talent from MUBS to form "team blue" ( as shown in the pictures
we wore official looking "Drake Blue" unifroms furniehd by MUBS.











Human Rights house and Minstry of Health


Today, we visited the human rights house in Kampala. The bus dropped us off a-ways from the commission, so we had an eventful walk to and from the house. We saw two cows wondering along the street, a few cute dogs, people burning trash, and Quint even found some dumb bells to pose in front of. We also heard a lecture from Michael Muyonga of the Uganda Health Ministry later in the afternoon.

The executive director, Sewanijana, of the Uganda Human Rights House lead a very interesting lecture regarding human right topics in Uganda and then focused on how mandates of human rights can be carried out. He mentioned problems with the judiciary system leading to violations of prisoner’s civil rights, problems with parliament, violations of health human rights, violations to the right of children, and violations of the right to education, just to name a few important topics discussed.

We heard his perspective: only Ugandans can solve the problems existing today, such as these problems involving human rights. Issues of governance are solvable by the people here who stand up and say, “enough is enough”. This is hard to come by because Uganda lacks a strong civil society due to high levels of poverty and high rates of unemployment. How can the civil society in Uganda be strengthened? Do you think these solutions are plausible within the current governmental framework existing today?

Michael Muyonga came to MUBS in the afternoon to discuss the Health Ministry in Uganda. The Ministry has many programs such as malaria prevention, promotion and education, surveillance, childcare, and nutrition. Michael focused his lecture on HIV/AIDS, a very serious epidemic here in Uganda. As a behavioral scientist, he had a lot to say regarding prevention and comprehensive programs designed to combat HIV/AIDS. One important part of this program regards confronting the HIV/AIDS stigma. How has your stigma changed after having heard these lectures and after having visited TASO? What can be done to reduce the negative stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS?

Later in the afternoon, we had a fun 11 v 11 game of soccer! And oh yes, victory for Drake!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Newspaper Day!

Today was our designated newspaper day in which we interacted with Uganda's two main print publications: The New Vision and The Monitor. This morning, we met with John Kakande, the editor of The New Vision, which is the only Government-owned newspaper in the country. His talk about freedom of the press in Uganda was very enlightening. We learned that while the Ugandan Government claims there is free press, it is not truly free, as the Government can intervene at any time if there is any hint of support for an opposing minority.

Kakande also discussed the history of media in Uganda, which began in the early 1900s with the first print publication. Radio was introduced in the country in 1954. Today, there are around 100 radio stations in the country, but many of the workers are paid next to nothing, as it is difficult to be prosperous, especially in rural areas with little demand for advertising. In comparison to other African nations, Uganda is second to Kenya as far as the state of the news media, according to Kakande. But even he hopes that the Government will completely remove itself from his newspaper, as there are always issues of censorship that can cover up the truth.

This afternoon's tour of The Monitor was also fascinating. The Monitor, Uganda's leading independent newspaper, is the main competition of The New Vision, and the rivalry between them was apparent. The Monitor claims it has a circulation of 30,000 while The New Vision puts the circulation count of its competitor at 20,000. Both agree (one more reluctantly than the other) that The New Vision does have a larger circulation (around 35,000).

Chris Obore is the assistant news-editor at The Monitor. He is definitely a strong advocate for a completely free press. He thinks it's remarkable that the Constitution has allowed his newspaper to exist independently, but there is still a lot of work to be done before Uganda's press is entirely free. "Even though everything looks great on the surface, we are still fighting Government interference every day," he said. "Freedom of the press is not about journalism; it's about providing a platform for free speech. It is a human right."

For my question, I would like to go back to the presentation by John Kakande of The New Vision. He defended the use of graphic images used on the cover of The Bukkede, saying that the use of these photos (such as mangled bodies from traffic accidents) has inspired people to take action and speak out about issues such as traffic control and safety. Do you think that is the only reason they publish these photos?Also, do you personally think it is a good idea to show such graphic pictures in the media here in Uganda?

The Strength of Agnes

Lauren did an excellent job of describing our visit to TASO (see post below). At the end of our visit we had the privilege of hearing one of TASO's clients, Agnes Nyamayaro, speak about the impact AIDS has had on her life and the support TASO has provided her. Agnes's story provides an intimate look into the face of AIDS and the impact it has on average citizens. Her story was very moving and I cannot begin to do it justice with a summary here. Agnes has become an international figure who has had the opportunity to share her story with many prominent individuals including our former president, George Bush, we were very lucky to meet this extraordinary women. What were your thoughts abut Agnes's story? Did it change your perceptions of AIDS and its impact on average citizens? You can learn more about her experiences at the links below. www.mpwn-uganda.org/stories www.one.org/blog/2008/04/08/agnes-on-aids-funding

The AIDS Support Organization

After a journey through the pouring rain and floods, we eventually made it to TASO in Mulago, Uganda. TASO is an organization of workers that provide care, support and treatment to HIV/AIDS patients. They have been open for 25 years and are 100% funded by NGOs. Most of their patients come in on appointment, but often times they still wait for hours to get a chance to see the staff which is only made up of 30 people (only 3 of which are medical officers). All that is needed to receive treatment is proof of your HIV status.

As the speakers told us, many of the citizens of Uganda do not get tested for HIV because of the stigma that comes with it. Most wait until they get extremely ill to seek treatment. Another issue comes when people see those infected with HIV living healthy lives because of treatment, therefore they do not take the complications of HIV/AIDS seriously.

What information most surprised you during the lecture? Were you surprised to find out that married couples in Uganda are at a higher risk of becoming infected?

A look at Capitalism

Yesterday morning, we had the choice of either going downtown to get internet access or attend the Ugandan stock market. As one of the individuals who attended the stock market, it was an eye opening.

First off, the stock exchange has only been open since 1999, or for 10 years. Currently, there are 10 companies that are being traded on the exchange with all of the trading done manually. But, in the next three months, trading will be down electronically. Officials hope this will open up the exchange so investment in the country will be increased. Also, trading is done only three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday) from 10am until noon. The 10 companies traded come from the five sectors of the Ugandan economy so officials believe it is a good representation of the economy.

Studying finance at Drake, I was shocked by the experience but also learned a lot. Take a look at America and the large stock exchanges that currently exist there and how much trading is done each week. Cash truly flows freely and capitalism is clearly present. But, not here in Uganda.

I believe one of the ways to jump achieve sustainability in Uganda is through the development of a strong stock exchange. By doing so, companies will be able to raise funds that they couldn't otherwise raise. Doing so, will allow them to grow. As companies grow, so does the economy, the GDP, and the GDP per person. More will be able to be accomplished within the country. But, the problem is that many companies in Uganda are family owned and they have no intent to go public because they do not want to share their profits with others (dividends). If companies aren't willing to do this, how is the economy suppose to grow? To me, it seems to be a cultural problem. My question to you is this: How does the government within Uganda convince companies of the benefits to go public? Also, what incentives could they offer to these individuals as well? And, how long until the stock market starts to grow substantially here?

Fianlly, with electronic trading, you as an American will be able to buy Ugandan stocks. Why would or wouldn't you buy Ugandan stocks. What are the benefits and the risks?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parliament and the Marketplace

Yesterday all of us experienced two places that effect the daily lives of Ugandans. Our first destination was The Parliament of Uganda. This place was where the Ugandan Parliament, the legislative body of Uganda, debate and pass legislation that assist in providing assistance to citizens. Parliament had many long standing traditions. The mess, a gold staff (about the size of a baseball bat), has been used in every session of Parliament and without it Parliament cannot reconvene. The Parliament even still uses an hourglass-like timer to make sure speakers do not exceed three minutes.
Our second destination was the Owenno market. Along with the many stands with tons of items to choose from, the market was filled with hundreds if not thousands of people making their way through. From meat being cut on a concrete slab to multiple stacks of fifty plus shirts and blankets we were exposed to something very different than a farmer's market. With many vendors trying to sell us their merchandise we were very fortunate to have the students from MUBS, Fred, and Dinah with us. They not only helped us navigate around the chaos but also demonstrated some pretty superb bargaining skills.
For all who visited Owenno, what shocked you the most? Or what had the biggest impact on you?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words


The students relax in the Amsterdam airport while waiting for the final 8+ hour flight to Entebee. After getting to the airport two hours before our first flight, flying to Detroit, laying over for over two hours, and flying over 8 hours to Amsterdam we are looking forward to arriving in Uganda only a little over 24 hours after first arriving at the airport in Des Moines.


The first day in Kampala we attended a Rugby match. Many students followed including Rachel and opted to try fried grasshopper instead of the traditional US game snacks of cracker jacks or popcorn.







While visiting Kasubi Tombs the female students from MUBS and Drake had to wear a wrap to show respect for the Bugandan Royalty (see post and comments below)



Our first "family photo" of the trip was taken outside the shrine to come of the Christian Martyrs (see post below). In addition to our family of students, faculty, and staff from MUBS and Drake we added three temporary class members who had joined the group during our tour.





More pictures will follow as the trip progresses -- check back every couple of days.

Sure or Yes We Can!!



Ok i know you have not done this but sure you will in a few days!!!

Going thru the Experiences So Far!

Ok..I can now see you Guys are enjoying the tour. The Baganda Culture and hospitality is getting to you; I am proud to be a Muganda. When i read about comments from buganda am happy. You have seen the royal burial grounds, the speke resort, the Parliament( Senate Buildings) and Owino Market.
I guess you have never seen so many people walking to nowhere (Owino). There were no signs that this leads you there or here!! But we went around. Food and Clothes all over the place, talking down the Prices, seeing lots of Meat...yeah this really stunned a few of you especially the offals.
What about crossing the roads...that was a thrill to some of you. Do not forget the stop signs...what is the count now!
I just love kampala when you guys come around. I would really love to read about this sustainable development from you guys. Are you really feeling it or seeing it!

Market Place

I just kind of wanted to hear everyone's impressions of the market place. Obviously it was quite the culture shock. I have been to many flea markets and crowded farmer's markets but I have never had anything in my life to compare to the place today. Aside from the overwhleming crowds the shockingly extreme lack of hygene will probably what will stick with me the most. But what I would like to everyone to think about the most is the level of entrepreneurial determination the people there must had. Remember how the tried to sell their goods. They spend all day there from 6 in the morning to 7 at night. For them to put up with those conditions day in and day out there must a far worse fate waiting for them if they don't make those sales.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Things we take for granted

How quickly I forget. This is my third time to Uganda and each time I am reminded of what we easily take for granted. Let me give you a few examples:
*stoplights and center lines
*full pressure hot water
*a tall, cold glass of milk with Cinnamon Toast Crunch
But what I exchange for those is so much more in return:
* the hug of a friend I have not seen for a year
* Max and Harriet, the goats, as well as chickens in the yard, a cat with three legs and Jimmy the 'guard' dog that greets us when we come in the gate
*and perhaps most importantly, the look of wonderment in the eyes of the students.
What has replaced the little things you are missing from home?

The Kasubi Tombs

Today we visited the Kasubi tombs where four Kabaka's (rulers) of Buganda are buried. The line of spears surrounding the main burial site and the section where only royalty was allowed made it feel like a sacred place (which it was), rather then just being a museum. Learning about the martrys shrine where christians were executed by the king for standing up[ for their faith, and actually going to part of a service was awesome, although I was surprised that it wasn't done in English. What surprised me the most about the Kasubi tombs was the fact that the first kabaka was buried there only 130 years ago and the last three ruled Buganda during the time when Great Britain ruled over Uganda. The question I have is whether the Kasubi tombs represent the same Buganda that existed in the previous century, or if the traditions we learned about were influenced by the rest of the world, and if so how?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Welcom to the Tour and Bon Voyage

As you all embark on the 18 hour journey to Uganda;know that we are as curious to know who is coming to Uganda and what you bring on the Tour. The past experiences are still fresh in our minds. I congratulate you on being part of the 3 third tour.
Africa is different from the USA but it offers alot of excitement and am sure lots of questions are going theu your minds of what to expect. As it is a learning tour..i will be happy to know about what is in your journals/thoughts when i see you at the Airport tomorrow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Early Perceptions

Post by Prof Root: The class has now met multiple times during the Spring semester and we have had many discussions relating to Uganda. However it is often academic perceptions based on books and discussions differ from the "real world." Prof Bishop and I were recently discussing how you do not really understand a country and its culture until you experience it first hand. Therefore we that it would be interesting to hear the members of the class discuss the views concerning their expectations of what they will experience while in Uganda, then we will check back after and during the trip to see how those perceptions are changed. Please comment on your perception of the people, places, and culture. Questions you may want to address -- what do you expect to discover? what parts of the trip are you most looking forward to? what do you believe are the largest obstacles to achieving sustainable development in Uganda? (do you have possible solutions in mind?). Also please tell us what your views are based upon -- presentations in class, your outside research, movies, books, etc. Only two weeks until we arrive!