The current president Yoweri Museveni, who was last re-elected in 2011, has been in power since 1986. Since the elections in 2006, the country has seen an increased concentration of political power. The democratic space for political opposition has been reduced and corruption has more and more become institutionalised. However, the parliament is still relatively politically independent.
The country’s young democracy is at a critical stage and our future efforts will be defined by political developments. Our development cooperation is now directed towards strengthening the democratic process, developing the private sector, and increasing capacity for national scientific research. In October 2012 an incident of corruption within the Ugandan state administration was revealed. Sweden therefore suspended the payments to the Ugandan government over a period and demanded repayment of the misused funds. Once the money had been repaid, Sweden resumed payments to governmental insitutions but a large proportion of Swedish aid is channelled through civil society organizations and international organizations.
Democratic development and human rights
Democratic development in Uganda gives a rather conflicting image. In 2006, the first elections with a multi-party system were held. The elections in 2006 and 2011 contributed to the establishment of preconditions for a political opposition, although that opposition is still weak. At the same time, the government has taken an increasingly stronger grip over the state power. Protection of human rights is established in Uganda’s constitution, but is not sufficiently implemented in reality.
Sweden puts a great importance on continued developments along the democratic path. The goal is to support implementation of strengthened democracy, free and fair elections and increased respect for human rights. The support is channelled through civil society organisations working for democratic change, and through public channels aiming to create a broader political dialogue.
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Sweden has been providing support for development of Ugandan health care sector for many years, especially in the neglected rural areas.
Uganda has one of the fastest growing populations in the world, and at the same time has high maternal mortality. Within the support to the health sector, Sweden particularly focuses on improving maternal health, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). A new part of our support is directed towards the care of mothers and newborns in the neglected Karamoja region. Funding is also provided to the Ministry of Health in order to strengthen their capacity for planning and management within the health sector as well as to a number of NGOs working with maternal health for a development of a system of checks that can be redeemed for maternal and perinatal care, but also to a number of other NGOs.
In the beginning of 1990s, AIDS epidemic was raging in Uganda and the country was one of the world’s worst affected. With help of our development assistance, the AIDS prevalence rate fell from 18 to 7 per cent.
But there are warning signs that this positive trend has stopped and that greater efforts will need to be made to change this. Together with other donors, Sida supports implementation of Uganda's own strategy against the spread of HIV/AIDS transmission, as well as projects run by various NGOs that focus on curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Business and commerce
A strong and competitive private sector is a prerequisite for creating job opportunities and improving incomes for poor people. Agriculture is the basis of Uganda’s economy. Improving its productivity and competitiveness is a priority for Sweden’s development cooperation, which has as its overall objective improvement of business and investment climate and increase of trade.
Improvements in the business climate take place at national as well as local level in cooperation with public and private actors. In areas in the north that have previously been affected by conflict, our support is complemented with direct interventions, that contribute to creating better conditions for improving livelihoods for people who were previously internally displaced.
The goal to increase trade is partly achieved through development of local companies and their organisations, as well as through development and adaptation of institutions and regulations that meet international requirements and standards, and partly through contribution to a strengthened regional economic integration.
Private sector cooperation
Private sector plays an important role in development cooperation and contributes (to growth) through its knowledge base and its financial resources. This is why an increased cooperation with the private sector is a prioritised part of the Swedish development aid. In Uganda, this is done through various forms of cooperation. Providing a financial guarantee to a local bank creates more opportunities for funding of private actors within the health sector. In collaboration with several private sector actors, Sweden supports a project aimed at increasing employment for young Ugandans. By supporting Ugandan private sector, Sweden has contributed to the start-up of a business incubator at the Makerere University that specialises in ICT. In the recent years, Sweden has also supported dozens of business initiatives in Uganda through the global programme Innovations Against Poverty (IAP).
Research and Universities
The research cooperation with Uganda, introduced in 2000, aims to improve the analytical capacity within the research on combating poverty and improving democratic governance at public universities. The third phase covers the period from January 2010 to June 2014 and the funding amounts to SEK 180 million – the money mainly directed to the Makere University in Kampala, but also to remaining four public universities in Uganda.
The support focuses on research education within medicine, technology, liberal arts and social sciences, agriculture and veterinary medicine. During the year 2010, 40 new post-graduates were admitted. At present, 102 doctorate students, 42 master students and 20 scientists are supported. The education is carried out in cooperation with 12 Swedish universities, alternating between periods spent in Uganda and in Sweden.
Funds are also given for improvement of the research environment at Makere University – for information and communication technology (ICT), libraries, quality assurance, laboratory equipment etc., as well as for an administrative reform for effective research management.