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Social Welfare

Social services were an important factor in government planning in the late 1980s, both to support efforts to improve health care and to upgrade living standards in general. Providing running water in rural areas was a high priority, although even small improvements in water supplies were costly. Projects in the late 1980s focused on drilling wells, protecting springs, replacing and repairing pumps, and training community workers to oversee water systems. The government also recognized that many people had to walk several kilometers to carry water to their homes and declared its intention to extend pipelines into rural areas. Sewage systems, too, were considered an important but expensive improvement. Even so, many urban pipelines and septic tanks were in disrepair, and most rural areas lacked pipelines or sewage treatment facilities. Government workers began installing sewage systems in several small towns, including Rakai, Nebbi, and Bushenyi, in 1988.

Housing was an important symbol of development in Uganda under the NRM government. Providing low-cost urban housing was a high government priority. Projects in Masaka, Mbarara, Arua, and Namuwongo exceeded government spending projections in 1988 and 1989. In 1990 at least three housing projects were underway in Kampola. Estimates were that some 8,000 housing units needed to be built each year throughout the 1990s in urban areas alone to keep pace with population growth. Given the shortage of investment funds and the high cost of imported construction materials, it was unlikely that such a goal would be met.

Rural housing development was also an important goal, but in the late 1980s, most rural residents built their own homes. Although these were often mud-and-wattle huts, they were, nonetheless, a source of pride. Having a well-kept home was important to many Ugandans, even the very poor. People considered deteriorating housing standards a symbol of social disintegration, one that characterized a few poverty-stricken areas and those hardest hit by AIDS. Village cooperative societies in the Luwero region organized brick-making factories in 1988 and 1989, and the government was attempting to organize similar projects in other areas. Other government programs aimed at increasing credit opportunities and improving materials and transportation facilities for rural homebuilders. In the late 1980s, housing assistance was received from Austria, Britain, Finland, and the Netherlands.

One social problem with tragic implications for Uganda's future was the children--more than 1.5 million of them, almost 10 percent of the population--who had been orphaned by the spread of warfare or by AIDS in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By 1990 the number of war orphans alone was estimated at more than half a million. No reliable figures were available for AIDS orphans, but one study predicted that their number would grow over the next twenty years to 4 to 5 million.

Several thousands of these orphans were young boys who had attached themselves to the army. By the late 1980s, the government had established a few schools to provide boarding facilities and primary education for these kadogos, or child-soldiers. Others sometimes lived on city streets or in small groups without any regular supervision. Many Ugandans accepted the responsibility for caring for others' children, but this responsibility was generally believed to apply only within the boundaries of the extended family. Many children had lost a large number of relatives, in addition to their parents, and some orphans chose to avoid living with relatives they did not know well. As a result, neither government nor private agencies were able to surmount the economic and social obstacles to programs for immediate care for orphans. One of several ominous implications of this failure was that orphans and kadogos could remain on the periphery of society for the rest of their lives.

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Despite the political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s, publications by several government ministries and the Office of the President testify to the national commitment to disseminating information about Uganda. C. Obbo's research on women in Uganda and G. Ibiringa's and D. Mudoola's political analyses are among the many contributions by Ugandan scholars to the growing understanding of their society. Makerere Institute of Social Research also publishes frequent reports by international researchers in Uganda.

Two compilations of essays assessing Uganda's social and political development in the 1980s are Uganda Now, edited by H. Hansen and M. Twaddle, and Conflict Resolution in Uganda, edited by K. Rupesinghe. Numerous works by N. Kasfir have also contributed an understanding of Uganda's political environment. Volumes in the Ethnographic Survey of Africa series by G. Huntingford, P. Gulliver and P.H. Gulliver, M. Fallers, and J. La Fontaine preserve Uganda's rich cultural heritage in the ethnographic present. Field reports and ethnographic analyses from the decades just before and after independence also provide much of the basis for the 1980s' understanding of Ugandan society. These publications include works by J. Beattie, L. Fallers, L. Mair, and A. Richards on Bantu-speaking societies of the south; H. Morris on Uganda's once-thriving Asian community; and A. Southall's publications on Alur society and acculturation in other areas. Works by B. Langlands survey Uganda's social and physical geography.

Several scholars have applied class analysis and dependency theory to Ugandan society without becoming mired in debates over geopolitical alignment. Examples of such works are M. Mamdani's Politics and Class Formation in Uganda; S. Bunker's Double Dependency and Constraints on Class Formation in Bugisu, Uganda and Peasants Against the State; and J. Vincent's African Elite and Teso in Transformation. S. Heyneman's research on education in the 1970s and early 1980s demonstrates the national commitment to education. Information on AIDS is available in 1988 and 1989 publications by the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1990

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Uganda Table of Contents