Friday morning (5/27) - This morning we went to the MUBS annex campus to listen to a talk on gender isses and the law by David Batema, a fo...
This morning we went on a walking tour of a family farm within the village of Kikandwa. The farm is small-scale and produces a variety of cr...
We had the opportunity to visit the Ndere Cultural Center and learn more about the cultural side of Uganda through music, dance, and song. ...
Hi folks: Welcome to the MUBS/Drake 'Sustainable Development in Uganda 2017' blog! Today is May 4; that means it's only 12 da...
What is Entrepreneurship? Mr. Bitature argues that it is a burning desire, a passion for fixing a gap that you see in society. In the last f...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The day report book is finished! We may not have the budget to print a copy for everyone, but it's so nice beating the system digitally. Let me know if you find any errors and I'll fix it right up! I can also get you a copy of the PDF version for your own nostalgia, so just email me at email@example.com and I can make that happen.
Monday, June 6, 2011
His Worship David Batema graduated from Makerere University Law School in 1989 only to realize that the laws in Uganda had male standards and came from male perspectives. He began preaching gender equality to magistrates before he even became one. He lives with the belief that “All human beings are born free and equal,” and he continues to spread this message to anyone who will listen, as well as some people who try not to.
To us, he stressed the difference between “sex” and “gender,” stating that sex is biological and natural while gender is the social construction of the differences between man and woman. These differences are created in our minds and often have to do with how we were brought up. These differences in upbringing became apparent when students from MUBS and Drake were posed with a simple question: “Whose daughter are you?” Students from MUBS replied with only one name, that of their father, while Drake students included the names of both parents.
His Worship David Batema also commented on the religious aspect that leads some people to justify patriarchy. He explained that in the Bible, God created man first and gave him the Universe, which is why many believe that God gave all of the power to man. However, woman was not created until after this happened, which would mean man’s rule does not go as far as to include woman. I found this to be an extremely profound interpretation of the Bible’s teachings. Christianity is prominent in the Ugandan culture, and often leads people to believe things just because it says so in the Bible and without any additional education on the subject. I am glad that there are people who are forward-thinking enough to analyze the Bible and find the messages within rather than taking everything at face value.
I think that gender equality is an important aspect in the sustainability and development of any culture. For an economy to grow, all of its citizens must be respected. The fact that one man is working so hard to improve gender equality in Uganda is inspiring. In a culture like Uganda’s, women can preach against domestic abuse and sexual harassment all they like, but men will pay no attention to them and things will never change. For a man to try and change the perspective of other men is very important and will be the best way to move this society forward.
After our gender equality presentation, we all climbed onto the MUBS bus to take a trip to the source of the Nile, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Jinja. It was incredible to see the beginning of the longest river in the world. The force of the current at the source was astounding, as would be expected for the only river that flows South to North. We all got our fill of picture-taking before heading back up to the bus, stopping to do some last-minute souvenir shopping at the variety of stores along the way, of course. We boarded the bus with all of our new items and memories and back to Kingfisher Resort we went, for an afternoon full of relaxation and fun.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Once we were on the bus we heard some basic information about our bus ride toJinja. Fred told us that Jinja is the second largest city in Uganda. He also told us that we would be passing the Owen Falls Dam. After we crossed the bridge over the source of the Nile, we would be entering into the Busoga kingdom. We had previously been in the Baganda kingdom. On the way to Jinja we also passed the Mabira natural forest, sugar cane plantations, and tea plantations.
Local people greeted us with music for the microfinance lesson. After we were greeted they started the presentation with prayer and the Uganda national anthem. We made introductions and got a very basic overview of the microfinance situation in the rural village. After that we took a musical interlude, which included traditional dancing and music. The music continued, but became educational when some singers came out. They sang about how grateful they are that people are able to form groups and the groups help them to save and link them. In the next song they referenced how they used to save money by keeping it in the house and hiding it in pots or roofs of houses, but now they know how to finance.
After the music, the Kugumikiriza V.S.L.A. group used a skit to teach us about how they were using micro financing in their village. The first skit basically showed how a mother hid money in pots, the roof, and in the dirt. The money in the pot and dirt were stolen and the house burned down leaving them without saved money. This skit showed how saving money used to be a problem in Uganda because people could easily steal it.
The second skit showed the new microfinance system that a rural village outside Kampala is using. It started with a girl listening to music on a radio and having her father take it away from her and listen to the news. He heard an ad about an organization that teaches people how to save. In the next scene people come to the seminar to receive training that will help them keep their money safe. The trainer asks how people have been saving and they say that they have been keeping their money hidden in pots and other places. The people had been treating their savings like leftovers. The instructor introduces them to new methodology called V.S.L.A. (Village savings and loan association). V.S.L.A. could allow them to save money and accumulate it.
In order to save money with the V.S.L.A. methodology the locals needed to be trained. They would need to go through 5 training phases. The first phase was group formation, which helped them to form their group. Each group would need to agree on a minimum amount to share. The next training phase was saving, loaning, interest, and social fund training. The last three phases that were taught were records, bylaws, and procedures. The skit then went into how it is easier for locals to pool their savings because it makes it easier to save and also easier to borrow.
The skit also addressed the fact that the savings meetings are gender sensitive. There needs to be at least 2 women out of the 5 minimum people who need to be there. This program is helping women to take control of their finances.
The next part of the skit had to do with what happened at a meeting. The members would ask the previous balance and count the money. There would be 3 key holdersthat couldn’t be related who would open the box. There were 4 different areas the money would be separated into including finance, welfare, savings, and repayment. Roll is called at the meetings and each person has a number to ensure they are present. At the end of the meeting all members witness the box being locked by the key holders and the treasurer takes the box home.
The skit also addressed the fact that some groups decide to make an emergency fund. They make a separate fund and have a different treasurer be in charge of that box. If someone would need to get into the emergency fund there would need to be 2 witnesses.
If someone wanted to borrow money all the members would equalize the loan. The loan would need to be paid back in 3 months time. The interest could be between 5-10%, but it's usually 10%. The person taking out the loan must pay interest back monthly. This program is a huge benefit to the community because it helps them set up loans and have savings.
Everything that has happened up until this point was in the local language and had to be translated into English for us. It was challenging at least for me to pay attention to the skit and also the translation. They did have a closing poem that was in English. It summarized the fact that before the V.S.L.A. methodology the situation was poor, but after V.S.L.A. people feel more empowered. It stressed that all of society was improved.
One of the most important impacts this program has made on the rural villages is that is teaches people how to save. It also allows women to run their own finances. The program teaches people how to be financially independent and helps bring people together. We don’t have the community feel that these people have because in the U.S. we just walk into a bank or ATM to get money. The people are able to form more of a community because they are saving their money together. After many thank yous in both English and the native language we left the village.
V.S.L.A. is definitively having a positive impact on sustainable development in rural areas. It is teaching people how to save their money. Italso allows people in these villages to have more access to a loan. It is important to give people access to loans because they are more willing to start a business, which in turn will create jobs and stimulate the economy. It also gets women involved in keeping their finances. To have a sustainable society Uganda needs more entrepreneurs and opportunities for men and women to start their own businesses. V.S.L.A. gives people the access they need to take advantage of these opportunities.
We went to the chairman president’s mom’s house after the microfinance presentation, where we had been invited to lunch. We were greeted with a few speakers. John talked to us a little about the world becoming smaller. He referenced John F. Kennedy and how Ugandans used to come to the U.S. and Americans came to Uganda through the Peace Corps. He talked about how both our countries share a common ancestry with Great Britain and how glad he was we came. We also heard about YPMA (Young professional managers association). After all the greetings we ate some traditional Ugandan food and fruit for dessert. All the food was very delicious!
We were able to enjoy an acrobat after we finished our meal. He did some tricks like riding his bike backwards and putting pants on while he was on his bike. He also made tea and drank it in less than 4 minutes while still on his bike. He also did some spinning wheel tricks. He was going to do tight rope walking, but the rope was too wet due to a brief afternoon thunderstorm.He did promise to send us a YouTube video to make up for it. Once the acrobat was done we thanked our hosts and left for the Kingfisher resort.
The Kingfisher resort is so beautiful. We made it just in time for the sunset. We have a great view of Lake Victoria. I know a few of us went down to the beach to admire the view and the sunset. It has been a great first day in Jinja!
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Today was a laid back day filled with recreational activities for the Drake and MUBS students. The group was excited for today because we were able to attend the Nations Cup Qualifier soccer game with the Uganda team taking on Guinea Bissau in the late afternoon. The Drake students refer to the sport as soccer, while the MUBS students and the rest of Africa (and the world) call it football.
It was a slower morning, we were able to sleep in and eat breakfast at Red Chilli with fresh fruit, vanilla pancakes and omelets as some of the choices. After a quick breakfast, we hopped on the bus and headed to a small craft market to do some shopping for our last minute gifts. On our way to the craft market, the streets were already filled with people wearing Uganda Cranes jerseys, honking, making loud noises with whistles and the large horns called vuvuzelas. It was only 10:00 in the morning, and the city was already buzzing with excitement for the big game. When we finally arrived to the market, we spread out and started to do our shopping. We had about an hour time limit and each student had a list of items to purchase such as picture albums, dresses, jewelry, fabric and other gifts. At this point in the trip, we all knew the tricks of the trade when it came to bargaining and making deals with the Ugandan vendors. Shopping was a piece of cake! This market had a mixture of items for sale. Most of the vendors had very similar items to what we had already seen in past shopping trips, but there always seemed to be something new. As we walked through the market sporting our Uganda Cranes jerseys, the shop owners asked if we were attending the game and thanked us for our support for their country’s team. They were just as thrilled as we were, and hoped for a win for their Cranes.
After finishing up our shopping we made our way back to Red Chilli to drop our items off and then head to MUBS for lunch. Lunch went by quickly and we jumped back on the bus to be dropped off at the stadium. As we were weaving in and out of traffic, the city was booming louder with cheers of anticipation and excitement for the game. When we reached the parking lot of Mandela National Stadium in Namboole, it wasn’t what most of us had expected. People were crammed together waiting to get into the stadium as cars were driving up to the gate. There were comments from our group comparing the situation to professional games they had attended in the United States. The reoccurring theme was that professional games in the United States were much more organized and regulated than what we had seen so far. After waiting in line with our tickets for awhile and being passed by some persistent and enthusiastic fans, we were able to safely get into the stadium and find our seats up in the top row. The stadium was packed and an estimate of about 70,000 people attended the game! Fans flooded the aisles and the outer sides of the field with police supervision. It was interesting that the seating was first come, first serve. This caused some chaos that required a large amount of officials for crowd control. The security measures were lacking despite the numerous police officers. There could be a possible increase in revenue if this system was more organized and controlled. This would require fewer paid police officers and demand a strict form of security. Also, having the tickets correspond to a specific seat would greatly reduce the chaos and allow for increase ticket prices. Concession stands and spirit wear sales could also make for a more sustainable system.
As the game started the level of noise increased to an overwhelming amount. One of the Drake students said that the vuvuzelas and whistles sounded like a swarm of bees. Eventually we became accustomed to the buzzing noise and even joined in with our own cheers and gave the vuvuzelas a try. The Cranes dominated the first half with multiple shots on goal, but it wasn’t until the 39th minute that they scored the first goal. The fans cheered and sang their national chant and we all joined in. During half time an unruly fan ran across the field with his shirt off. As the police escorted him off the field he raised his hands in triumph and the fans went wild. The second half started and the Cranes were at it again and scored another goal. Before we knew the game was over and Uganda had won and qualified for the 2012 Nations Cup for the first time since 1978. The fans were celebrating the win by dancing and cheering while the sprinklers were going off on the field in celebration. After the crowd died down, we gathered our group and made our way towards our bus. We waited in thick traffic for about two hours before we started moving back to Red Chilli. The city continued to celebrate the win for the rest of the night, and the sounds of vuvuzelas could be heard as we were going to sleep after an eventful day.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Upon our arrival at Red Chili we were briefed about the area. We were told each tent had a lantern outside of it at night to keep the animals away since they are afraid of light. They also told us that hippos and wart hogs like to sniff around the tents and graze at night, so if we heard them we were to stay inside our tents. We needed to have a flashlight on us to use the restroom and avoid the animals, even if they were blocking the path to the bathrooms. After hearing that speech and learning I couldn't have any type of food in my tent for fear of a wart hog attacking the tent, I can say I was a little more than nervous and kind of pensive about staying in a tent. However, we all survived the first night.
We woke up really early this morning in order to try to be the first to pick up our packed breakfasts that we had ordered the night before. There was another fairly large group staying as well, and we wanted to beat them to the ferry that we were suppose to take to start our safari. We grabbed our breakfasts that were put in brown paper bags and left to meet the ferry around 6:30am.
We reached the edge of the Nile River about 5 minutes later. While we waited for all of the groups to arrive, we got to watch a beautiful sunrise. Some of the Drake students started singing the beginning of "Circle of Life" from The Lion King. It was definitely fitting. After a few group shots with the rising sun, the vans drove on the ferry, and we headed to the other side of the river. There we climbed back into our respective vans, and we were off on our safari that was to last 4 hours.
|The beautiful sunrise over the Nile River|
|One of the four vans we took. This shows how the roof lifts up.|
We got to see lots of gazelles, water buffalo, water deer, antelope, giraffes, wart hogs (or Pumbas, as my van called them), lots of different birds, and hippos, among lots of other animals. The van I was in was lucky enough to see three female lions and a male lion as well. They all got really close to us. I would guess they were probably within 30, if not 20 feet of us at one point. It was by far the coolest thing I have ever seen. In order to find the lions we had to do some off road traveling, which was extremely bumpy, especially to those of us sitting outside of the vans on small metal rods that made little squares. Plus, those of us that sat in the front continuously bumped our shoulders against the roof of the van. However, it was completely worth every bump, bruise and sore muscle or body part that I have. It was definitely an experience that I will never forget and never regret.
My van was also lucky enough to get to see a python that had most likely eaten lunch quite recently. It was still extremely fat in the middle, so we assumed it was still digesting its lunch. We saw the python right before a few of us got to glimpse a leopard descend from a tree. Luckily, one of the other vans had been right by the tree, and they got a lot of really good photos of the leopard in the tree and coming down. We also had another van see a lioness with her cubs. There was definitely a lot of variety among what the different vans got to see, which made the experience unique for each of us.
At 11am, we left the safari to head back across the river for lunch at Red Chili. We all ordered, ate and played some more games before we left for the boat tour at 2pm. Then we headed back to the Nile where we boarded our boats. We were all originally on a big tour boat together, but for some reason my van got moved to a smaller tour boat.
The boat tour was absolutely gorgeous, and our tour guide David did a great job of explaining everything we saw and answering our questions. He also had amazing eye sight. I'm still not sure how he was able to see half of the wildlife we saw. It usually took me a while to see it when we were close to it, so I'm still baffled out how he saw some of the animals from so far away.
After we took of on the Nile River, we spotted a baby crocodile almost right away. When I say we, I really mean David, but he pointed it out for the group so the rest of us could see it too. We also passed by a house that was constructed for Queen Elizabeth's mother. It looked like it was a very nice house from what I could see of the outside.
We quickly made our way along the river spotting lots and lots of hippos. We learned that they spend over half of their lives in the water, spending only 9 hours a day on land. Their time on land is spent grazing, and they usually travel around 6 kilometers when they graze. David also told our group that hippos and elephants only go to the water if it isn't raining. However, if it rains they stay on land because there is no need for them to travel to the water to get wet or cool down. Along with seeing hippopotamus, we saw water buffalo. David pointed out that once water buffalo reach about 18 years of age (they live to be about 20), they are kicked out of the heard because they tend to lose their eye sight and are seen as weak. When this happens they spend most of their time on the edge of the water. They strategically face the land and have their back towards the water. This makes predators, such as lions, believe that they can see them approaching, and it makes the water buffalo less vulnerable because there isn't anything that should attack them from behind.
We continued our journey until we reached Murchison Falls, the waterfall the park is named after. It was absolutely stunning. I have never seen water move so fast or so powerfully. Looking into the river seeing how strong the current was, was absolutely unreal. When we arrived at the falls, David shared a little of the Fall's history. He told us that it was originally named after a king of a tribe. This king would jump across the waterfall in order to get supplies from the other side. They also switched men and women because the men were dark skinned, and the women were fair skinned. The king on one side and the king of the other side did this to form more of a medium skin colored baby.
On the way back to where our tour had began, we met the big tour boat the rest of our group was on. We found out that something had gone wrong, so we were supposed to get on the bigger boat, and then they would get on the smaller boat since the big boat was unable to get close to the shore. However, it turned out the small boat didn't have enough gas in it to go back to the falls and make it back to the starting point, so we all stayed on the big boat. My group, plus everyone else, went to back to see Murchison Falls again. It was just as beautiful and amazing.
After seeing the Falls for the second time, we started to head back to our starting point. We continued to point out animals that we saw. We even got to see a crocodile go into the water. I have never seen anything move so fast. It moved with incredible speed. It was fascinating to watch. We made it back to the point of origin around 5:30pm, and we headed back to Red Chili for supper. After supper, we played multiple different card games with the MUBS students since we all had split off into different groups. The group I was with taught a few of the MUBS students how to play spoons, except we used straws because they were more readily available and seemed like a less dangerous alternative. They absolutely loved it, and in turn they taught us to play a game similar to UNO.
|The crocodile we watched enter the water!|
We ended the night with a campfire, and of course where there is a campfire, there are campfire songs. Patrick also played his guitar and sang. It was definitely the perfect way to end the evening. But in order to add a little more spice to our evening, we were also visited by a hippo (or maybe two) at around 10pm. He was by the very last tents, which of course were occupied by Drake students. They were able to make it to their tent eventually, but it was weird having to worry about hippos being outside. I was glad to be tucked safely in my tent at this point.
Tourism is a huge part of sustainable development for Uganda because there is so much to see. The national parks are absolutely gorgeous, and I don't know how someone could come to Africa and not go on a safari. It also helps that people see something different each time. I could easily go on a safari again, and I know it would be completely different. However, in order to make tourism sustainable they need to attract the tourists to the area. For Murchison Falls, I think a little more advertising could be done, but honestly, that is all I would change. There weren't any gift shops around, but I found that refreshing. It was really nice getting to see everything naturally as it was meant to be. Sometimes having something that man hasn't over commercialized is extremely satisfying. This was definitely the case. By the looks of the number of people that were staying at Red Chili, I would say the tourism in the area is doing well. Because tourism is a big part of the economy, I would say Murchison Falls is definitely helping with sustainable development in the country, as long as there continues to be tourism.
Last night I got to fall asleep listening to my classmates, friends and professors singing "This Little Light of Mine." It was beautiful, and after starting off with the sunrise we had this morning, I couldn't picture a more perfect day. It was what I picture as 100% African tourist. It also made me realize that Elton John nailed it in "Circle of Life." There is definitely "more to see, than can ever be seen" and "more to do, than can ever be done." But I'm extremely grateful for the experience and the chance to try.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The secretary was extremely informative and walked us through the education, areas of work, and problems facing pharmacists in Uganda today. Pharmacy is a rather new practice in Uganda. The Pharmacy and Drug Act of 1970 was the first law created to govern the profession. It established the PSU and brings together all of the pharmacists in the country. This act also establishes the National Drug Authority which regulates the distributing of pharmaceuticals in the country. A Bachelor of Pharmacy degree began being offered in three Ugandan universities in 1989 with the first class graduating in 1993. Prior to this, people had to travel to other countries to get their degrees and then return to Uganda to practice pharmacy. This led to a huge shortage of pharmacists in the country since they are needed in many fields including community (where 95% work), hospital, industry, and research. Currently there are only 319 pharmacists in the entire country. This is not nearly enough to meet the demands of the population of nearly 3.3 million. Although all pharmacies are required to be owned or employ a pharmacist, many times they operate without a pharmacist present. This leads to poor quality of care for the patients as well as compromised services. However, with the number of people interested in pharmacy due to its high social status and pay this problem is expected to greatly improve in the future.
Currently the pharmacy industry in Uganda is dominated by businessmen rather than pharmacists themselves. The businessmen are in charge of importing the drugs from foreign manufacturers, and there are no regulations in place that ensure the drugs entering the country are manufactured correctly. In fact, due to the recent HIV epidemic, latex gloves and condoms are the only products that are tested for quality before entering the country. This leads to a huge problem with counterfeit drugs being sold in pharmacies, many times without the knowledge of the pharmacists. The NDA has a lot of work to do to ensure that regulations are enforced regarding the importing of drugs. Another problem with the Ugandan pharmacy industry is the fact that prescription medications are dispensed without a written prescription from a doctor. I was shocked to hear this with all of the strict regulations in place in the United States for getting a prescription. This has lead to a large amount of antibiotic resistance as well as drug abuse in the country. Although laws do exist to regulate this, they are not enforced, and people buy pills whenever they are feeling even slightly sick because they don’t understand the proper way to take medications.
Despite the obvious problems that exist in the pharmacies of Uganda, I feel that they have great potential to advance within the coming years. They are aware of the most in-demand services and have started a HIV medication factory so that they will not have to import the ever important Anti-Retroviral Drugs. Also, every pharmacy always has some type of malaria treatment in stock as well as bed nets for sale. This shows that pharmacies are working to serve their population and will hopefully continue to advance forward in the future. All of the necessary laws and regulations regarding the filling of prescriptions do exist, so they just need to be enforced more strictly in order for change to take place. This will hopefully become easier as time goes on and more pharmacists enter the workforce. Quality pharmaceutical care will greatly aid the country on its path towards development. If citizens are able to access the proper medications and receive information on their illness, they will be healthier and able to work. Also, society will begin to gain a sense of trust in pharmacists, thus furthering their ability to act as a change agent to alter the current mindset of the entire population and focus efforts on prevention of disease rather than treatment.
Our day continued with lunch at MUBS and we then began the second half of our day which included a visit to TASO (The AIDS Support Organization). This organization was started in 1987 when the current government came into power. TASO works to improve the life of victims of HIV/AIDS by providing them with the services they will need to battle their relentless disease. Upon entering TASO, we were welcomed with a song from their drama group with is composed of clients of the organization. The goal of this group is to ensure people that even if your HIV test comes back positive, you can still do something positive, so they compose and perform songs based on their life experiences.
While at TASO, we spoke with both the public relations employee as well as two medical professionals. While we only visited the Mulago branch of TASO, organizations are located in various regions around Uganda. These centers provide medical care, psych-social counseling, and social support for those testing HIV positive. Donors fund about 95% of the facility which serves over 20,000 clients throughout the country. Funding only allows for 400 clients to receive ARV drugs (used to stop HIV replication and allow blood cells to multiply) out of over 3,000 clients, so only those with CD4 (white blood cells that make up the immune system) levels below 250 get put on the regimens. Those selected for free drugs are carefully chosen based on interviews and home visits to ensure that they will keep up with the medication and take their treatment seriously. This is extremely important in order for TASO to ensure that it is not wasting any of the valuable ARV drugs on people who do not even care about their treatment.
In addition to starting people on medication, TASO also sets up a specific counselor for each client that meets with them to discuss their possible steps to overcoming HIV/AIDS and encourage continued work despite the judgments that may be passed. After the client has returned to TASO for 2 months and has no complication with their medication, they are able to get check-ups in TASO centers in the community rather than coming back to the center. TASO’s ability to extend into communities throughout Uganda shows their extreme dedication to the support of those with HIV/AIDS. I feel that TASO is an excellent organization in Uganda. It provides those suffering from HIV/AIDS with a place they can go for help where they know that they will not be discriminated against. In addition to this, its free services allow treatment for people who may not have been able to finance it themselves. It is greatly helping the country’s development by promoting practices that will stop the transmission of HIV as well as treating those who have already contracted the disease, thus allowing them to live a longer, happier life than they would have without treatment.
The TASO presentation concluded with another song by the drama group. This piece included African drums and at the end of the song all of the members of the group came into the crowd and held our hands to illustrate the world uniting in its fight against HIV. We then did some shopping at booths set up by clients of TASO to raise money for their organizations and took a brief tour of the facility. The tour guide informed us that TASO Uganda offers scholarships to students to come to Uganda from other developing nations and learn about TASO in hopes of starting something like it in their country. This reinforces the fact that TASO is a great organization that touches the lives of thousands of Ugandans, giving them hope in this time of great hardship in their lives.
After leaving TASO, we exchanged some more money and set off to purchase Ugandan football jerseys. I was expecting a leisurely time at the mall that I usually experience when shopping in America, but after all of the shopping we have done here so far I should have known better. It took us all about an hour to finally select the jerseys and correct size as well as barter with the store owner for a good deal. In the end, most of us ended up with jerseys whether they were the right size or not and are very excited to wear them to the football game later this week. The day concluded with a dinner at an Indian/ American restaurant and we then returned back to Red Chili to pack for our exciting three day journey to Murchison Falls which we will embark on tomorrow!
Monday, May 30, 2011
This afternoon we went and visited the Buganda Paliament where we got to learn about much of the tradition, culture and history of the biggest kingdom in Uganda. Today the Buganda Kingdom makes up about 25% of the country, and has an approximate population of 7.5 million people. The Buganda Parliament does not have any real power, but they have a large amount of influence over the Beganda people.
Uganda is filled with a rich heritage, and goes back over 800 years. When the British came to Africa in the in the 16th century they made Buganda a “protectorate” instead of a colony because of the sophisticated political and social structure that was in place. It is headed by the Kabaka, or king.
The system of governance is broken up into two different parts: civil and lineage sections. The lineage side is more cultural, and is broken down into clans. The most basic system is the household. Moving up it goes to sets of families that govern each other, to sub-sub clans, to sub clans, and then finally the clan heads. The kingdom is broken up into 54 clans, and every Beganda has their clan name as part of their name which is passed down through the father.
On the administrative side the kingdom is broken down into 18 counties. The most basic structure of a county is the village council, which would then report to the Miruka Council, which is a set of villages. From there they answer to a sub county council which then reports to a county council. From there both the 54 clan heads, and the 18 county councils answer to the Katikkiro, who is the prime minister, and his cabinet, who then answer to the Kabaka.
The kingdom of Buganda came up with many inventions that they are proud of, and led the British to believe that they were a sophisticated society. Such inventions include turning tree bark into a cloth, special treatments for animal furs, a rich music history, a unique style of housing to keep themselves cool, pottery, and metal work. They also have a long history of sport, including wrestling tournaments, and regatta canoes.
Some of the important ceremonies in the culture are the Okwanjula, and the Okwabya Olumbe. The Okwanjula is the introduction ceremony when a couple decides they are going to get married. This is where a woman of Buganda must introduce her fiancé to her family and members of the clan will bring gifts in celebration, almost like a coming out or engagement party. Another ritual or ceremony the Beganda celebrate is the Okwabya Olumbe, it is done a few months after a funeral and symbolizes the end of the grieving period. It is a ceremony to install the new heir of the family, which goes to the oldest male. They are often given a spear and a shield to show manhood.
There are also a few annual ceremonies of the Beganda. One is the coronation of the Kabaka, which is done on the 31st of July. This gives the king a chance to head out to another county and see the people. The birthday of the Kabaka is also a big holiday for the people, which the Kabaka will hold a large party of all of the ministers and clan heads of the kingdom. They also celebrate Bulongi Bwansi, which is a community outreach day where they all get together to make Buganda a better place. This is done on October 8th of every year.
In addition to this they also have the Ekitoobero festival which is a large musical festival for the people.
It has not always been peaceful times for the Buganda kingdom. During the reign of Idi Amin the king had to flee into exile, until they were invited back in 1993 by the NRM government. This was a large moral boost to the people, but the relationship between the Kabaka and the Government has been strained because of the people’s allegiance to the Kabaka.
Although the Kabaka does not have any real power, many of the Ugandan Parliament Members have pledged allegiance to him. They also have a radio station where they can express their views and have received much of their funding through renting out the Kabaka’s land for farming to the people, and through contributions from richer members that support the king.
After we got done learning about the history and the culture of the Buganda people, we received a tour of the parliament building. It was an old beautiful building which, in size, was bigger than the national parliament. We also tried to connect the Buganda Parliament to sustainability. The rich culture and heritage is something we don’t have in America, but tradition is something that is very sustainable. It gives the country unity, pride, and a sense of where they came from. On the other hand, if the Kabaka disagrees with the president, the people will be divided, and the culture will be one that is unsustainable. So as long as the Kabaka and the president can work together towards common goals, the rich Heritage of the Beganda will add towards the sustainable effort of the country.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
This morning started like most others; we headed to breakfast at MUBS. This morning’s breakfast was pretty typical with the exception of a new item added to the menu: Ugandan doughnuts. They looked like the doughnuts in the US and were most similar to cake doughnuts, however they are not very sweet.
We experienced a lot of hurrying up and then waiting throughout the morning. After plans were more solidified, we decided to grab some snacks at Capital Shoppers Supermarket for a light lunch later in the day.
On the way to visit SURE Prospects Institute, there was a lot of conversing between the Drake and MUBS students about what the Drake students had experienced on our rural visit yesterday. We also sang the songs that the children performed for us at the village the previous day.
When we arrived at SURE Prospects Institute, Francis, the principal, owner and founder, gave us an introduction. He explained that SURE is an inclusive school with three sections: nursery, pre-primary & primary, and special needs. Francis started the school in 2002 after he competed university. The actual idea was conceived in 1998 while attending university, when he was the chairperson of the Students with Disabilities campus organization. He decided to focus on youth and children with disabilities. Upon graduation, Francis spent time on the land where the school was going to be and pondered his idea. He also went out into the community and asked what others thought of the idea. He wanted to get the community’s view of disabled persons. In Uganda, people don’t care for the disabled. They don’t even refer to them with “politically correct” titles such as blind or deaf in their language—they simply refer to them as stupid. Numerous of the disabled are disowned and become beggars on the streets. Many of the people in the community thought he was going to get them in trouble with the law for abandoning and mistreating their disabled children, so he had to work very hard to convince them that he only wanted to help.
Francis had a desire to help disabled people become educated, productive members of society rather then becoming beggars on the streets. This makes this institution sustainable as well as the economy.
When the school started, children were taught skills to go straight into the work force. They were trained to use sewing machines and computers. The costs of education, especially those who are disabled, is very high. Nearly 90 percent of disabled children born in Uganda are born into poor families. To compensate for the high cost of education and the little money that the disabled parents and guardians had, SURE became an inclusive institution. This meant that disabled and abled persons were educated. The ratio started out as 10 abled children to 1 disabled child. That ratio is now down to 3:1. The 10, now three, fees of the abled children would help to cover the costs for the disabled child. This means that the disabled children could go to school for free. Nearly all the subjects covered in the school you attended are taught at SURE Prospects Institute. There are currently 302 students at the school. Nearly all classes are a mix of abeled and disabled children.
Many people in Uganda have the conviction that disabilities are contagious. This was another barrier that Francis had to work through. Now, SURE is known as one of the best schools in the area. He really had to show others what they were doing at SURE Prospects Institute. They have a strong emphasis on education so that these children can become productive members of society. It is engrained in these children’s brains that even though their arms or legs or eyes don’t work, their brains do. Francis and the other 24 teaches have to show the children, their parents, and the community the potential the potential these children have. Some of the teachers are also disabled.
Francis has also tried to show businesses the advantages of employing disabled people. One of the advantages is that they are SUPPOSED to get a tax break.
The people that have gone through this school have been successful in the workplace. There have been six children that have graduated from SURE. One of the six is even attending university.
One of the other challenges that Francis faces on a daily basis is being patient. Teachers at SURE have to learn about the children and be creative. Something that Francis taught me was that learning disabilities are difficult, but not complex. At SURE instead of calling the intellectually challenged “slow learners,” they call them “time takers.” This is very true; if you are patient with these children, they are often very accurate in their work.
This school is very sustainable and very beneficial for Uganda. Francis has a passion for what he does. He is educating the disabled to become useful members of society rather than becoming beggars on the streets. He cares for these children as they were his own.
After the presentation, we gave Francis a small gift, as well as some gifts for the children. Deb also presented Francis with a gift from her mother, whose name is also Francis. Then we had some time to walk around the school on a short tour, as well as spend some time with the kids. We gave them some “sweeties,” talked with them, and some even played football (what we know in the US as soccer) with them. Many of the disabled children seemed to have a buddy that helped them. There were two boys, one of them blind, and the other boy led him around all morning making sure he was not left out. They were all very cute and touched our hearts.
Next we went to a park on the shore of Lake Victoria for a light lunch. It was so beautiful out! It was nice to put our feet in the sand and take a few pictures.
After we were finished with lunch, we headed to the Chairman of the MUBS Board of Trustees country home. We had to take a smaller bus up to his house because the road is so rough and narrow. As we were driving up, everyone in the cramped bus was being thrown from side to side. At one point, many of us had to get off the bus so that it could make it over the roughest part. Many of us just walked the additional 200 meters up the hill to the house. It had a gorgeous view of Lake Victoria. We just spent some time out in the yard talking and enjoying drinks. We also went up on the balcony of the house and took some pictures. What a breathtaking view of Lake Victoria and the countryside of Kampala.
We had a wonderful dinner and spent some time chatting and playing cards. After awhile, The Chairman gave a short speech. He talked about sustainability differences between Uganda and the US. With the one-acre of land that the Chairman’s house is on, they try to grow everything they need to survive. The goal of the Chairman, as well as many other Ugandans, is to be able to survive on their own land, without going into town to buy anything for a month. This kind of life style is sustainable. If you take care of your crops, you can survive on all the food you grow.
The night was wrapped up by saying that we as students and ambassadors had to decide the value of this experience. We have to take advantage of the opportunity we have with our time left in Uganda.
Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, all the students took part in African children’s games, the equivalent of our “Duck, Duck, Goose” in the US. It was such a fun way to end another wonderful day in Uganda.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda, so today was a very important experience for our group. We had a 6:45 bright and early wakeup call (sharp, not leisurely Uganda time) and piled onto the bus with about ten bags of clothes for the village children, not to mention an endless supply of candy for the kids. We also came bearing gifts for the host family women of cooking utensils and multipurpose knives for the men. We ate an energizing breakfast at MUBS and then were on the road for our hour and a half adventure to the rural visit.
We were promptly greeted by Professor Senteza’s father, James, whom we were to call Dad or Tata as a sign of respect. Rural areas have a more traditional way of life including the use of more formal greetings than in urban settings. We were very thankful because James planned most of the day for us. On the way to our destination farm, we spotted papaya trees, sweet potato plants, and a variety of other crops. We also found a chameleon running around and were quite fascinated by it.
Once we arrived we were introduced to the owner of the 10 acre farm, Robert; John, his brother who received us for lunch and discussion at his house; Abraham, their elder; and Henry, an expert in farming methods and a representative for NAAD, National Agricultural Advisory Services. NAAD is a farmer based program sponsored by the government and ranges from the central county to the smaller sub counties. There are farmer forums and each village has members in them. The organization looks for farmers’ input and helps provide seeds for crops such as maize and beans and funds for expensive pesticides and herbicides.
We split up into two big groups and were lead on a tour of the farm and informed about the farming practices. Fruit trees such as mangos are grown on the edges of the property in order to mark the borderlines. Ditches are dug amongst the street to catch water and pool it into connecting canals throughout the land. This is a form or irrigation canals that’s purpose is the keep the soil fertile and the land from not flooding from the vast amount of rain they get. It is a great way to conserve the water throughout the soil when it rains about once out of every three days.
Agro-forestry is the main technique we heard about throughout the tour. These are the systems that allow the soil to remain rich with nutrients and allow Ugandan farmers to have successful harvests. An example is that coffee is inter-planted within banana trees so that the nutrients are spread. Mulch is made out of dried grasses and leaves and used to prevent weeds as well as hold nutrients and water. Herbicides are also used to control weeds, such as Round Up and Weedmaster. Only about 25% of farmers use these products though because they are so expensive. The farmers use the technique of crop grafting especially for coffee and banana trees, where they cut a young branch of the tree off and replant it in a new area of land calling it a “clone coffee” tree. This technique is very sustainable for the farmers because it allows them to use the crops they already produce to further expand their farm and continue growing crops without needing new seeds for plants.
The main crops for Ugandan farmers are coffee and cocoa, which are cash crops, and bananas, which are a food crop for eating and selling locally. The process of selling coffee as a cash crop is harvesting the seeds from the tree in November-January, drying them for ten days, a county buyer purchases them and transports them to a mill where they are graded, they are taken to an exporter and graded again, and then they are exported. Uganda exports about 90% of all of the coffee beans that it produces. The main type of coffee grown is Robusta coffee, because the old types were killed by a fungus twig borer. From plant to flower, the growth takes about 18 months. The farmers manually prune the coffee trees to make sure that only four branches grow, which helps spread the nutrients and create better and bigger beans. Bananas are also a very special crop to Bugandans, and they mostly grown a “dessert banana.” Banana trees were similarly struck with a wilting disease causing premature ripening and oozing of bananas due to cutting them off trees with an unsanitary knife. There are now much better sanitization practices, and the crop takes about nine months to grow.
Some other crops grown were Tenjera Tomatoes, which are a bacteria resistant strain. Plenty of yams were growing in big mounds within the plot. We saw some ground nut (similar to a peanut and used to make the delicious groundnut sauce for matooke) plants deep within the ground. There were also many green beans planted about 1’ x 2’ apart. The maize is also planted quite far apart, about 3’ x 3’. This allows the crops to produce a better yield with bigger cobs and taller plants than we have in Iowa. The Ugandan farmers focus more on quality instead of quantity like the US when it comes to produce. Maize is grown in a swamp-like, wet environment and takes about three months to grow.
Ugandan farmers have many techniques in place that promote sustainable development. They are very big on crop rotation, for example planting cabbage next where tomatoes currently reside and maize after that. The different crops use different nutrients within the soil. Cabbage, for example, is grown in continuous production, so that planting and harvesting different sections happens at the same time. This prevents all produce from being sold at one time only. Robert is also renting out about five acres of his land per season, about six months. This allows new farmers to get off their feet and turn to him for guidance. They are very behind when it comes to machinery though, and they actually do all of the work by hand between only three men and four women on the entire plot.
After the tour of the farm, we were provided fresh Jackfruit for the first time and it was a huge hit! It was sweet and tasted very similarly to Juicy Fruit gum. It definitely lived up to our high expectations that the MUBS students had built up. We also feasted on some fresh mangos and bananas all home grown. We then travelled to the town of Kasawo to John’s house for refreshments, including more mango and juicy pineapple.
Next, we began our service project which was painting the inside and outside of the town hall building in the village. The building hosts special occasions such as birthing classes for expecting women, NAAD meetings, seminars, workshops, and political rallies. We were greeted with a huge applause because everyone was so glad that we were there and able to help them. There was even a representative sent from the Bugandan King to thank us for our hard work. We had a lot of fun getting messy and working together to really make an impact on an entire village. One of the students said that this was the first time they felt like they finally made a difference on people’s lives.
We travelled back to John’s house for our homemade lunch. Our entertainment was provided by some of his children and their friends making up an eight child choir that sang a welcoming song and two other cute songs with choreography and all. They introduced their names within the song and also said repeatedly that they “would never forget us.” We returned by singing two traditional American songs: a song about freedom by our very own musically inclined Patrick as well as a group sing-along of “This Land is Your Land.” Our lunch was absolutely delectable and had some of the best matooke we had ever eaten! We were so grateful for our host’s incredible hospitality and for feeding as large of a group as ours.
Our post lunch group discussion featured a wide variety of comments and questions about the farming techniques we had just seen and heard about. Everyone was very impressed by the large diversity of crops as well as the ingenious irrigation system. Some of the farmers’ future plans are to expand their land. While farmers in America have been continuously increasing the size of their plots throughout time, due to the large number of children or decedents, the Ugandan farmers’ plots have been decreasing each generation. Robert would also like to expand his animal raising capabilities and have more goats, cows, and pigs. Most of the farming techniques used in the past still remain the same today, but the aspect that has changed is the type of crop due to disease outbreaks.
A difficulty for Ugandan farmers is the climate because of the lengthy dry seasons that are the worst in January and February and also are during June, July, August, and December. The wet seasons are when it is easiest to sell their crops but also when the prices for them are the lowest since there is such a high supply of them. Although the food prices have been increasing recently, the farmers have not seen any benefit from the raise. They do not really have a say in the prices of their products because they are forced to use a private country buyers who also desire to make a profit. The price of gas also equals out to about $9 a gallon, so the cost of transporting their goods to Kampala is quite pricey.
It would be a much more sustainable market if the farmers had a way to dry and store grains and instead be able to sell them during dry season and charge higher prices. Right now the methods are too expensive and most of the time the country buyers will store it instead. Another problem with the huge agriculture industry is that there are not enough youth that want to get into the agriculture business. Too many young people migrate to cities and leave the rural areas as soon as they can, even though the agriculture industry is the biggest in Uganda and the most important.
After the discussion was concluded, we were given free time to wander about the village in small groups and explore what rural living is really like. We were very quickly swarmed by children shouting “Muzungu” with extended arms awaiting our candy we brought for them. The kids quickly caught on that we all had candy and began to follow us in large packs around the village streets. They were absolutely adorable wanting to hold our hands and giving us endless high fives when we asked for them.
Professor Bishop, my fellow pharmacy majors, and I explored a local health clinic during this time to witness some of the differences in health care we have all been hearing about and studying. It was very small quarters and actually had a few chickens running around inside. The clinic was only run by nurses and a midwife, which is quite common in rural areas instead of the traditional doctor and pharmacist employment. There was an examination room, a birthing room, and a few other small rooms for the sick. Most children do not get the sick main vaccines (Polio, Measles, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), which are all available for free at government hospitals and are an incredibly easy way to prevent diseases. If rural people had been access to drugs and vaccines then it would be more sustainable because the youth would be healthier and able to live longer.
After hour bus ride back to the lovely city of Kampala on the way to Red Chilli, we voted that for dinner tonight we would have Italian food. We went to a lovely restaurant very close to Red Chilli that had so many trees within the restaurant it felt like a jungle. We were in a bit of a scare when all of the power went off in the restaurant for a few minutes, but everything was resolved and the show went on. Everyone ate some sort of a pasta dish or pizza and followed it up with scrumptious gelato for dessert. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Our early morning began in a scurry to finish our samosas, hard-boiled eggs, and warm milk tea. Coaxed by our elegantly dressed professors, we made our way to Makerere University Business School’s 6th graduation ceremony. The ceremony began promptly at 10am “Ugandan time,” although all of the Drake students noted it started almost an hour behind schedule. Drake University was personally recognized and welcomed at the beginning of the ceremony by the Master of Ceremony and by the Chancellor. We again saw the hospitality and sincere welcome we received when we visited the Secondary School. The graduation procession was lead by the MUBS choir, dancers, drummer, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, faculty, and our very own Drake professors.
In total, 1078 students graduated today, including 32 from Luzira prison. Among those graduating, 579 were female, and 499 were male. This ratio says something about the minimization of the gender bias and inequality women faced not too long ago. MUBS has over 20 undergraduate programs, 10 masters programs, and doctoral programs. MUBS is in the lead in business and management education and in its quality of students, programs, and other activities. The staff, students, and facilities have had substantial growth since its start in 1997, and MUBS has plans to maintain the quality of education they currently provide long into the future.
I thought it was interesting that at the graduation ceremony they did not announce the names of the graduates as diplomas were presented. Other differences I noted, as compared to Drake specifically, was that prayer was incorporated, there was no student speaker, and students do not officially graduate for at least 6 months after their last semester.
In the afternoon, we raced the rainy, Iowa-resembling weather to the Movit Manufacturing plant just outside of Kampala. There, we learned about the history of the company, the mission, vision, and different marketing and advertising strategies used. Movit Products Ltd. began work in 1999 selling cosmetic products, and has become the number one ranked business in the cosmetic industry in Uganda in just 10 years. Movit sells 57 different hair and body products for men, women, and babies. The company sells to individual customers as well as businesses in both the rural and urban areas. Movit’s original vision was to become the leading cosmetic manufacturer in the Great Lakes Region. This goal must now be updated because Movit has already dominated the market share in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, and the Congo.
A majority of the conversation today, led by the director for marketing and sales, Bruce Mpamizo, was on the disparate marketing strategies used. Movit uses an integrated marketing mix approach, which is a combination of many different marketing styles that change depending on the target group. Many Ugandans in rural areas do not have internet or television, so they rely on other promotional tools, such as visiting schools and churches to get the message out. Bruce Mpamizo coupled what Patrick Bitature said last week in that to be a successful entrepreneur you must have integrity, honesty, a hard work ethic, and the willingness to take risks.
Education and entrepreneurship are arguably the two most important facets to a thriving and sustaining economic environment, and are closely interlinked. A proper education, especially from MUBS, allows students to identify an opportunity and act quickly, making successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create jobs, pass down knowledge to future generations, and demonstrate the value of social responsibility. Although as many speakers we have heard made clear, it is not just about academic work, but about learning to be a good citizen. These values have been instilled in the graduating MUBS students, and we wish them the best of luck in their future aspirations. Uganda has been taking the right steps in ensuring a sustainable future by attempting to make school more affordable and more practical option for kids and families. As said in the previous blogs, with education, students are able to sustain themselves in the future as well as educate their future children.
Now it is time to put on our Movit cosmetic products and have a good night!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Today started like many of the other mornings on this trip with breakfast at the Markerere University Business School (MUBS) canteen with our Ugandan colleagues. After finishing breakfast, the class moved from the MUBS canteen to a building on campus for our second formal class discussion session while in Uganda. The discussion was led by Professors Glenn McKnight, Deb Bishop, and Jimmy Senteza from Drake University. These class discussions give the students from both Drake University and MUBS the opportunity to reflect and analyze our class experiences.
As a class, we discussed our experiences from the NARO Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Equator Shops, City Secondary School, and the Ugandan Securities Exchange. Professor McKnight helped to direct the discussion towards how these different experiences relate to sustainable development. At first visits to sites like the Botanical Gardens and the Equator shops may seem unrelated to sustainable development, but our discussion connected these two sites to the larger tourism industry in Uganda. Since tourism is such a significant sector of the Ugandan economy, these sites, and other tourist destinations, are important parts of the path towards a sustainable economy in Uganda.
A large part of this morning’s discussion was devoted to our experiences from our visit to City Secondary School. Since we spent a full day at this visit, we had a lot of information to cover in our discussion. The students from Drake and MUBS used this time to discuss the differences between the American education system and the Ugandan education system. Most of these differences are related to the disparity in educational resources (textbooks, facilities, teachers, etc.) available in each country. We also briefly discussed the practices of dating and relationships in both countries.
Finally, the discussion ended with a brief overview of the Ugandan Securities Exchange. The Ugandan Securities Exchange contributes to sustainable development by helping businesses raise capital. The professors left time after our discussion to allow the MUBS students to give the students from Drake a tour of the MUBS campus.
On my tour of the MUBS campus, I saw the library, the administration building, many lecture halls, and the women’s dormitory. The current library is cramped and overcrowded with stacks of books extending almost to the ceiling, but a new library building is under construction on the campus. The new library building will be massive. It is four stories tall with a huge dome roof. When this building opens, it will house the library, the reading room, and information technology services including computer labs.
The women’s dormitory was striking in its similarity to the student housing at Drake University. In the women’s dorm, four women share a room with two bunk beds, two closets, and two small desks. While the rooms in the women’s dormitory were slightly smaller than the rooms for first year students at Drake University, they would still be immediately recognizable to American university students — right down to the pictures of friends, families, and celebrities posted on the wall next to the beds.
We returned to the MUBS canteen to eat lunch before heading to downtown Kampala to visit the Inspectorate General of Government. The current Acting Inspector General of Government for Uganda, Mr. Raphael Baku, was out of the country and unable to meet with our group, so we met with Mr. Muzamil Abon, Director of Regional Offices and Follow Up for the Inspectorate of Government (IG).
Mr. Abon gave the class a 30 minute overview of the work that the IG does to combat corruption in Uganda. The IG was established by the NRM government in 1988 with a mandate to “eliminate corruption, promote and foster the rule of law and principles of natural justice in public offices and enforce the Leadership Code of Conduct.” Ultimately, the IG is charged with preventing, investigating, and prosecuting allegations of corruption at all levels of the Ugandan government.
In order to fulfill this mandate, the IG is given unique powers within the government. The IG has the power to investigate corruption, arrest suspects of corruption, prosecute corruption cases, issue orders (e.g. stop work on a project that has been affected by corruption), access and search any property (including safety deposit boxes), seizure of property, freeze bank accounts, and clarify the declarations of assets made by Members of Parliament and other government officials. The IG strives to maintain impartiality, so the agency is the only self-accounting body in the Ugandan government. This allows the IG to protect its budget from Members of Parliament who may attempt to seek revenge against the agency.
The IG’s attempts to end corruption in the Ugandan government are hindered by many challenges. The chief challenge facing the IG is an inadequate capacity to fight corruption. The IG lacks the human resources needed to investigate corruption; the number of people fighting corruption pales in comparison to the number of people engaged in corruption. Because the IG lacks sufficient human resources, their ability to investigate cases of corruption is limited.
The IG also needs better training for its personnel. With rapidly changing technology and a high burden of proof in the Ugandan court system, the current personnel at the IG are struggling to keep up. If the IG’s current employees are to remain effective, they must receive continual training.
Finally, the IG lacks the necessary technological resources to conduct modern investigative work. Mr. Abon explained that it is typically necessary to catch a public official in the act in order to prosecute a corruption case, but the IG currently lacks the technology to record these acts. While modern police forces around the world will record investigations with small, discrete recording devices, the IG is forced to use old tape recorders that are difficult to conceal from the people they are investigating.
(It is worth noting that President Museveni announced a $10.4 million dollar effort to increase the IG’s capacity for fighting corruption, but a high level of corruption persists. For more information, see The Daily Monitor.)
Corruption is a direct obstacle to sustainable development in an economy. Emerging economies rely on quality infrastructure to attract investment and business development, but corruption contributes towards failing and insufficient infrastructure. Mr. Abon explained that in Uganda corruption results in poorly constructed public houses, roads, and bridges. In some cases, corruption contributed to schools being constructed improperly which resulted in at least two cases of roofs collapsing on people.
Mr. Abon described two main causes of corruption in Uganda. The traditional cause of corruption was low salaries. Public employees who were struggling to provide for their families looked to corruption as a source of additional income. In an attempt to eliminate this cause of corruption, the government increased workers’ salaries, yet corruption continued. The new cause of corruption, Mr. Abon explained, is greed. Workers are paid well, but corruption persists because government officials want big houses and expensive clothes. Corruption is now used to support the lavish lifestyles of some government officials.
Many Drake students were surprised to find out that it is illegal to investigate a sitting President in Uganda. As children we grew up in the age of Monica Lewinsky and televised political scandals, so to hear that it is illegal to investigate a President seems insensible. Clearly leaders can falter, but in Uganda, the President is immune from the IG’s investigations.
While the IG has worked hard to reduce the amount of corruption in the Ugandan government, corruption is still widespread. According to information provided by the IG, over 80% of the Ugandan people viewed the Ugandan National Police Force as corrupt. And just this week, the IG arrested a Member of Parliament suspected of embezzling 20 million Ugandan Schillings.
“Corruption is an evil we can combat successfully,” Abon said. “We cannot afford to lose this fight. If we do, our country loses.” While corruption is still prevalent in Uganda, neighboring countries suggest that efforts to eliminate corruption can be successful. Rwanda recently reduced corruption and increased its rating from Transparency International, a nonprofit organization fighting against corruption around the world. Eliminating corruption is a necessary step towards sustainable development in Uganda, and the IG must be given the necessary resources to continue its fight against corruption.
After our visit to the IG, we stopped at a market near the Ugandan National Theater. We browsed through the shops, and some of us purchased gifts, clothing, and other handmade products.
Tonight we had dinner at Mexican restaurant which was an entirely new experience for our colleagues from MUBS. Throughout this trip, Drake students have been exposed to new Ugandan foods, but tonight, it was the students from MUBS who were given a new cultural experience. The MUBS students tried chips (known as biscuits in Uganda) and salsa, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, and tacos. The MUBS students had mixed reviews of the Mexican food, but at least a few were ready to return to traditional Matoke after the meal.
Learning about corruption in the Ugandan government is an important part of understanding the process of facilitating sustainable development in the country. Until corruption is eliminated, efforts for sustainable development will be hindered. International aid will be embezzled, money for infrastructure improvements will be misspent, and businesspeople and consumers will continue to accept bribes as a way of doing business.
As Mr. Abon explained, if the corrupt win, Uganda loses.