Aid and conflict in Uganda

Originally published



There is a growing consensus amongst researchers and policy makers that development and security are closely linked. Poverty and underdevelopment increase the risk of violent conflict and contribute to other forms of armed violence. This is clear in Africa where factors linked with underdevelopment such as weak state capacity, horizontal inequalities, and livelihood and resource pressures, contribute to conflict and insecurity. On the other side of the coin, conflict and armed violence contribute to poverty and undermine development, for instance by destroying livelihoods, causing displacement, and disrupting economic activity and service provision.

Fully integrating issues of conflict and armed violence into development programming is therefore vital. Development can contribute to peace and security by addressing the root causes and motivations for conflict and armed violence; however it can also exacerbate tensions. It is therefore vital that development interventions in all sectors are conflict-sensitive and work to promote peace. Sustainably addressing conflict and armed violence requires a multi-dimensional approach that both ensures that development in all sectors, supports peace and security (e.g. by addressing the social and economic causes of violence) and addresses specific conflict and securityfocused issues that impact on the poor (e.g. reform of the security and justice system).

Conflict and armed violence have a strong bearing on development prospects, and vice versa, in Uganda. Since independence in 1962,Uganda has experienced a history of conflict and violent uprisings.Violence, rather than democratic, inclusive processes has been used to assume and often retain power. These conflicts and uprisings have been rooted in deep ethnic divisions and regional inequalities,which continue to lie beneath the surface of the current period of relative stability.Regional divisions and disparities in development between the North and the rest of the country, the continued dominance of the military in public life, the proliferation of small arms linked with the history of conflict, and the difficult political transition to multi-party democracy all contribute to the country's fragility.

The 20-year rebel insurgency in the North of the country, by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has been characterised by brutal attacks on civilians, abductions of children, rape and human rights abuses. The conflict has displaced over 1.6 million people,who live in conditions of chronic insecurity and poverty. It has cut off the North from mainstream development leading to some of the highest levels of poverty in the country.Armed cattle rustling and conflicts involving pastoralists in the Karamoja region in the North East have also become increasingly violent. The possession and misuse of small arms is widespread, and tensions are escalating between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and local people over how disarmament and development occur in the region.As well as internal conflicts,Uganda has been affected by regional conflicts and cross-border insecurity illustrated, for example, by Uganda's involvement in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While concern and attention is correctly focussed on resolving the conflict in the North, underlying divisions and sources of insecurity need to be addressed across the country so that violence does not re-emerge along the same regional and ethnic fault lines of the past.Whether or not peace is ultimately sustainable will depend in part upon how socio-economic development occurs across the country (for instance, the extent to which it promotes regional equity) as well as how the GoU addresses security threats (e.g. through military responses or through a preventative approach that prioritises civilian protection and human security).

This paper examines how far issues of conflict and armed violence have been integrated1 within development frameworks2 in Uganda. It analyses the nature and impact of conflict and armed violence in Uganda, the development approaches taken by the GoU and donors, and how they address conflict and armed violence, both on paper and in practice. The analysis focuses primarily on the GoU's own development framework, the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). It also assesses donor responses to the PEAP by examining key donor assistance strategies, policy dialogue and programmes. The paper aims to provide a basis for deeper dialogue between the GoU, donors and civil society on how to improve the way that development frameworks address conflict and security in Uganda.