Livestock production contributes to the
livelihoods of poor rural Ugandans by serving as a source
of food, a store of wealth, a source of cash, and a complement
to crop farming. However, livestock producers, traders, and
processors are constrained by missing or inadequate infrastructure,
poor quality livestock, endemic and epidemic diseases, the
small size of the domestic market, and Uganda’s limited
capacity to service international markets.
The political economic environment is equally important.
Producers operate within a semi-authoritarian political environment
framed by unresolved violent conflict in northern and eastern
Uganda on the one hand, and a liberal reform alliance between
the Ugandan national government and its international development
partners, on the other. This environment sends mixed signals
about political participation.
Politics in Semi-authoritarian Uganda
Fourteen of Uganda’s 56 districts have been affected
by sustained conflict since 1986. Conflict has centered on
violence between the Lord's Resistance Army, the government,
and civilians, and predation by cattle rustlers. These conflicts
have devastating humanitarian effects, and they divert resources
toward security, diminishing the funds available for government
investment in the livestock sector.
In stable regions, Ugandans encounter a political regime
that combines elections and other opportunities for citizens
to influence public policy with restrictions on political
participation and occasional violations of citizens’
civil liberties. The “Movement” political system
prohibited political parties from engaging in core activities
such as preparing platforms and holding regular meetings.
(Many of the restrictions were lifted recently.) The government
also has implemented decentralization measures ostensibly
intended to bring government closer to the people. However,
the impact of devolution has been diluted by concentration
of financial resources and decision-making authority at the
more difficult-to-access district level.
The Ugandan government has adopted liberalizing economic
reforms that seek to create macroeconomic stability, to reorient
government from direct service provision towards providing
an enabling environment for the market, and to establish a
demand driven approach to services. Reforms were pushed by
an alliance of major multilateral and bilateral donors and
reformers within government.
Reformers have made neoliberal rhetoric the dominant government
discourse, but bureaucratic tactics show there is substantial
resistance. The implementation of the National Agricultural
Advisory Services (NAADS), an important component of agricultural
reform, has been hindered by inadequate budgetary allocations.
Despite donor willingness to fund this initiative, civil servants
exploited the reform emphasis on fiscal discipline to limit
NAADS expenditures by allocating funds to other sectoral activities,
and thereby reducing permissible NAADS spending. With the
ADB Livestock Sector Development Program loan, on the other
hand, substantial funds have been allocated to undertake a
number of activities inconsistent with reform.
Reformers have focused attention on poverty, and the government
has institutionalized public participation processes. The
most recent version of the Poverty Eradication Action Plan,
Uganda’s central policy document on poverty, was developed
through a participatory process. Pastoralist organizations
engaged in a concerted advocacy effort that met with some
success. Participatory processes offer an opportunity for
influence within the dominant macroeconomic framework.
However, the privatization of the parastatal Dairy Corporation
shows that major policy decisions continue to occur without
public consultation. Stakeholders were excluded from the divestiture
process, which did not follow established procedures. In this
case, media coverage served to counterbalance this exclusion
by revealing irregular actions, prompting parliamentary intervention
and leading to a change in the outcomes.
In this context, the government-donor focus on markets, participation
and poverty provide strategic entry points for interventions
that could improve the livelihood of poor producers.
1. Improve livestock sector infrastructure
Government intervention to facilitate provision of sector-specific
infrastructure—weighing stations, cattle dips and milk
collection centers—would facilitate the operation of
the livestock sector. The small producers who benefit most
directly from their existence cannot afford individual purchase,
but this infrastructure could be provided through direct government
provision, market establishing requirements, and subsidizing
the purchase of infrastructure.
2. Improve incentives for market participation and
Lack of product and market information and the imposition
of taxes and fees on marketed livestock are serious disincentives
to investment in commercial production. Interventions to disseminate
livestock market information could be undertaken by government,
donors, or the private sector. Establishing a grading system,
increasing government enforcement of existing standards or
investing in branding would encourage investment in quality.
Government intervention would be necessary to remove the taxes
and fees imposed upon livestock.
3. Link participation information to reform assessments
Government reform programs are under pressure to deliver results,
so it is important to incorporate measurable indicators of
the extent to which poor people, pastoralists, women and other
marginalized groups participate in and benefit from these
programs. These indicators would encourage program implementers
to focus on these groups, and would assist civil society organizations
to monitor reform success and advocate change. Donors that
provide financial support for reform are in a particularly
good position to encourage the collection and analysis of
disaggregated participation and outcome data.
4. Support citizen and civil society participation
Most Ugandan civil society organizations have little experience
participating in policy development and advocacy. Experienced
advocacy organizations could build the capacity of producers’
membership associations to participate in public policy. Support
could include sharing information about participatory processes,
supporting groups of poor producers, and linking similar groups
in different areas. Individuals and local group should retain
control over their level of engagement and form of participation.