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Uganda Ponders a Sustainable Future as MDGs Become SDGs

Speakers at the Dialogue in Kampala: Photo by UNDP Uganda

Speakers at the Dialogue in Kampala: Photo by UNDP Uganda.

2015 is here and with it the overall target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which began in 2000. According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, Uganda, a country of over 37 million people in east Africa, met two of its 17 MDGs targets over the last 15 years: halving the number of people living in absolute poverty and achieving debt sustainability.

But in a country that placed 142nd out of 175 countries in Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, many believe more can be done.

Like other countries Uganda will now push to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 UN-backed action-oriented goals, which will come into effect in September and are illustrated in the infographic below by Global Daily:

SDGs infograph

As prominent development commentators have noted, it is unrealistic to expect any country to achieve all 17 goals and the 149 targets therein:

Uganda has been one country actively involved in discussions on financing progress towards the SDGs. The third conference on financing took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 13-16, 2015.

As the UN website indicates:

The Conference resulted in the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a comprehensive framework to guide policies that will mobilize financial resources, as well as the launch of new initiatives to finance the achievement of the proposed sustainable development goals, including on social welfare, access to clean energy, and greater cooperation on tax issues.

Immediately after the Addis Ababa resolution, the office of the Prime Minister of Uganda organized a high-level dialogue with delegations from all over the world to contextualize the outcomes of the Conference within the framework of Uganda’s NDPII (National Development Program II) implementation process, and to reflect on strategies for financing sustainable development in Uganda.

Key discussions centred on resources for financing sustainable development and how Uganda can explore untapped resources.

According to Hon. Sam Kutesa, a former Foreign Minister of Uganda and president of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, Uganda became the first country to hold such a dialogue following the meeting in Addis Ababa:

Kutesa also stressed:

Uganda must focus its energies on resource mobilization through domestic revenue collection by exploring untapped potential and the potential of alternative resource mobilization strategies for financing Sustainable Development in Uganda and necessary steps.

His points were relayed by Ugandans attending the event:

Moreover, he said, Africa must combat illicit financial flows:

Unlike the MDGs that were discussed by a select group of UN staff members, seven million people from all over the world were consulted during the designing of the SDGs, offering hope they will be better-tailored to the needs of the developing world.

In Uganda, the second National Development Plan that was launched in June this year has a development agenda aligned with the post-MDGs agenda. While the government of Uganda has shown commitment to further development in the country, it has also been accused of failing to implement laws and policies that are attractive on paper.

Assuming all factors are constant and alternative sources of funding are obtained, the question of transparency and accountability will certainly come into play. History has shown that corruption and mismanagement of resources have slowed down development:

This in turn affects critical sections of society:

Thus, Uganda must do more than append signatures on the commitments made in Addis. It must ensure that whatever resources it can ‘mobilise’ are put to use as intended.

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