Sunday, June 4, 2017

Government - Role in Development

Government plays a key role in the development of any community, city, company, or country. In Uganda, the government is often surrounded by controversies of corruption and conflict, but it still is crucial to sustainable development in Uganda.

Our closest experience with the Ugandan government was when we got the opportunity to meet with Parliamentarian Latigo, who is currently involved with the government. According to Mr. Latigo, one of the biggest challenges to sustainable development in government is the lack of functional institutions. When operating efficiently, the Ugandan government has many divisions in place to contribute to sustainable development in its country. Some of these divisions include the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which help to improve or maintain roads and follow up on spending on construction projects, respectively. From what we have witnessed so far in Uganda, the government seems to have the most influence on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 9, 11, and 16 which are Innovation and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Peace and Justice. Not all of these influences are currently positive, and the parliamentarian suggested that the best way for the people to hold their government accountable was to expect things from it and speak out. Our group has identified social media as a powerful tool for facilitating change in this way.

From what we have witnessed so far, what can be done to ensure the successful completion of roads and buildings that have been started years ago but not yet finished? What can be done to eliminate obstacles to peace and justice in the Ugandan judicial system? With the current structure of phone data plans and internet access, are social media movements feasible? If so, will they be effective? Even if the Ugandan parliament could agree on any major changes, could they implement them in the current political environment?

4 comments:

  1. Nice observations Ben! I found our discussion with Mr. Latigo very fruitful and eye-opening. I noticed in the interviews related to my project that roads and infrastructure are being built for the transportation of oil. It seems as if the only infrastructure and roads that the governments feels obligated to complete are those that they believe will be used for a greater purpose in the country. I think that in order for the daily roads and buildings to be complete the government needs to understand the urgency of these things to the people.
    I think the main thing that is prohibiting peace and justice in Uganda is that the judicial branch is not preforming its duties independently as it says in the constitution. From what I understood in our session with FHRI is that the supreme court in Uganda is following orders from both president and parliament on some cases which leads to further corruption. Also, the local courts are not preforming their duties to their community efficiently. individuals on remand are being kept in jail for ling periods of time without a hearing and without a notice of bail. This goes against the rights of residents according to he constitution. Uganda has a great constitution. If government bodies follow it, specifically the judicial branch, it will reduce corruption and end to more peace and justice.
    In Uganda, I am not sure if social movements are possible because of the recent arrest of the woman who was posting insulting comments about the president and the first lady. But, I also don't think that social movement are the most productive in creating change in the first place. It is much more influential to create change through legislation, protest and demonstrations, and boycotts. Throughout U.S. history, the most successful movement have been those where protestors have spoken with stake holders, written alternative legislations, and actively demonstrated with media coverage. The not as successful movements have been those with just a hashtag or post here and there because there is not explicit action for change.
    I think that the current administration is not looking for change, they have their own agenda which they would like to implement. it seems as thought the people voice as not heard very clearly. Although this s coming from an American perspective, in my opinion change administration allows more voices to be heard to create major change rather than a one administration presiding for long periods of time. New faces and fresh ideas tend to push change better then old men who have been in power for decades.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Ayana! I definitely agree with your last note about new faces in government. A very interesting fact about the roads as well, I wonder how useful projects like the Entebbe Expressway and Northern Kampala Bypass will actually be to the people if they were created with government interests in mind. The same can be said of the US interstate system however, according to an article from History (http://www.history.com/topics/interstate-highway-system), so maybe it will benefit interests other than the government's.

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  2. Nicely written Ben! From my own observations, I think it was Professor Ben who told me many people start constructing a building or so forth, but the project halts mid-construction because the initiator runs out of finances. I think something they could start doing is having some kind of collateral or a co-signer on a loan like in the U.S. so that projects can actually get finished. Or there should be some kind of opportunity/advertisement for someone else to come and finish the project. However, like Ayana has said, the question is who implements these policies? The government is not one looking to create change, and just like with healthcare, the big question is who should step up when the government won't? For many different aspects, I think that this is the biggest challenge.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Aryana! I'm not so sure about the extent to which a party could offer up a collateral on large projects, but the co-signer idea is definitely a potential. Do you think the co-signer would also run out of finances before the project was complete? This brings up a good idea for a future project, to examine the financial burden of such projects and looking more into why they are not completed. You pose some very good questions, and I think these could be great topics of discussion for future visits/seminars!

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