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3 Brief overview of the policy processes

This chapter provides summaries of the three policy processes included in the country study. The full case study detail is provided as an additional annex.[13]

3.1 Summary of Case Study 1: Governance and accountability: Anti-corruption & mismanagement

Policy dialogue issues

Corruption and mismanagement in Uganda, is a major obstacle to good governance and accountability, a concern raised by CSOs, DPs and government officials interviewed during the scoping study. Corruption and mismanagement issues cut across many sectors, institutions at national, district and community levels. The case study focuses on the trends in anti-corruption in Uganda, the enabling and disabling environment, effectiveness of CSO strategies for anti-corruption, the types of engagement, various stages of the policy dialogue and challenges of CSO effectiveness.[14]

Corruption in Uganda is said to be systemic and institutionalised.[15] The World Bank (2005) suggests that as much as USD 350 million (UGX 900 billion) is lost annually in corruption in Uganda.[16] The annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI) ranked Uganda among the top 50 most corrupt countries in the World, and 20th most corrupt countries in Africa and third in East Africa. The National Integrity Survey Report 2008 by the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) in Uganda identified the police, Ministry of Health, Uganda Revenue Authority, the Courts and the Immigration Department as some of the most corrupt institutions. Although Government of Uganda committed itself to zero tolerance to corruption since 2006, corruption remains a major constraint underlying poor service delivery in Uganda.

Enabling environment and spaces for engagement

The main legal basis for fighting corruption in Uganda is the Constitution of Uganda 1995. Uganda is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption 2003, and the Africa Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption 2003. The National Audit Act 2008 also gives the Office of the Auditor General (IOAG) independence to fight corruption. Reports of the IOAG and the sessions of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament are open to the public and give CSOs space for dialogue on anti-corruption issues. Other important laws and regulations include the Access to Public Act 2005 to give effect to Article 41 of the Constitution of Uganda, and the Anti-Corruption Act 2009, which defines corruption of public officers. An Anti-Corruption Court was set up to handle corruption cases. Parliament enacted the Whistleblowers Act 2010 which gives protection to any person who provides evidence of corruption both in public and private sector. The legislation is supportive of CSOs to initiate dialogue through courts of law. The Access to Public Information Act 2005 was enacted to give effect to Article 41 of the Uganda Constitution 1995. Although there is no regulatory framework for Public Litigation in Uganda, Civil Society Organisations have petitioned courts to demand accountability of public officers.[17] The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS)[18] was developed, with the aim to build the quality of accountability and reduce the levels of corruption in Uganda with a focus on people, systems, organisations and building a culture where integrity is valued and corruption is rejected. Uganda has a highly developed institutional framework to combat corruption, with over eight official anti-corruption institutions.[19] The media in Uganda has become a strong partner with civil society organisations to fight corruption and provides space for public debates.

Challenges to the enabling environment

The lack of political will by Government to combat corruption, according to CSOs, is a major hindrance to CSOs effort to engage effectively in dialogue with state agencies. Lack of concrete action and follow-up on corruption cases, threats and intimidation of CSOs who expose corrupt officials, and threats of legal action against the individual staff of CSOs are major disabling factors for policy dialogue in Uganda. As CSOs become bold and demand accountability and transparency, they are faced with hostility from the politicians. Gaps in the Anti-Corruption Legal Regime render some of the clauses ineffective and have been challenged in court. Interference by the Executive in the functions of the anti-corruption agencies was also cited as disabling. The power and authority of the mandated Institutions of accountability such as the Inspector General of Government (IGG) for example are undermined by delays in appointing specified officers as provided for under the Constitution.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

The long-term goal for CSOs and other institutions engaged in policy dialogue on anti-corruption in Uganda was identified as “A well governed and corruption-free society in Uganda”. The policy outcomes expected by CSOs include: Accountable and transparent public officers at central and local government level; well-resourced anti-corruption public institutions effectively combating corruption and; attainment of high quality of delivery of services.[20]

Multiple entry points for CSOs engagement in policy dialogue on anti-corruption in Uganda exist. CSOs have provided inputs in the policy process including: inclusion of an incentive for whistle blowing in the Whistleblowers Act,[21] enforcement of accountability requirements for Constituency Development Fund,[22] where very few Members of Parliament (MPs) accounted for the fund. Based on research findings by CSOs, it was found that most MPs spent the fund on personal rather than developmental issues. The CDF has been suspended, while an MP was prosecuted in the Anti-Corruption Court and found guilty of embezzlement and misuse of public funds.[23] Other laws CSOs have contributed to include Good Governance Laws, the Access to Public Information Act 2005, the Anti-Corruption Act 2009, and the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2010. CSOs also participated in the formulation of the National strategy to fight Corruption and rebuild ethics and integrity in Uganda 2009-13, and the Regulatory framework for Oil & Gas, which is currently shaping the debate on the oil and gas.[24]

CSOs contribute to policy monitoring and lesson learning at district level, which are met by mixed reactions from the authorities. At the local level, CSOs have intensified policy dialogue through organising community dialogue meetings, recognised as an important input into the local processes. Establishment of community structures and systems[25] which monitor service delivery and hold officials accountable has strengthened CSO effectiveness. CSOs use a number of tools to monitor quality and delivery of services in Uganda, and have helped to expose the quality of governance and cases of corruption and poor accountability. The tools include Community Based Monitoring and Accountability/Evaluation Systems (CBMA/ES),[26] especially in the health and education sectors, Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS)[27] and the Local Government Score Card which is implemented in over 25 districts as an accountability tool to compel the local leaders to account to their electorate.[28]

Challenges to CSO effectiveness

Both Government and CSOs do not have a clear understanding of the complexity of corruption, and how to root it out. No diagnostic assessment of the short, medium and long-term effects of corruption from economic, social, political and cultural perspective has been carried out. Without a clear understanding and diagnosis the strategies for policy dialogue will remain obscure. Corruption has become not only endemic but also institutionalised, and is highly entrenched both at Central Government level and Local Government. High public expenditure approved privately has been difficult for CSOs to follow-up. The tendency in Uganda is for Government to spend colossal sums of public money without the approval of Parliament. Without adhering to proper accountability mechanisms that are in place, CSOs find challenges in keeping up with the trend[29].

The capacity of CSOs to engage full time in policy processes is very limited by the lack of sufficient human, technical and financial resources. Community apathy and unfulfilled expectations, affect CSO effectiveness. Community members may not be willing to speak out due to unfulfilled expectations, low literacy rates which disadvantage Community members who cannot read vital documents as such as Bills of Quantities (BQ), and dependency on community volunteers who may drop out due to unfulfilled expectations.

Assessment of effectiveness of different strategies

Almost all national CSOs engaged in governance and anti-corruption related policy dialogue have carried out evidence-based research and analysis, collect data and evidence working at community level and provide convincing approach to policy dialogue in sectors such as education, health sector and other initiatives in good governance.

The CSOs carry out high quality policy analysis and research whose findings are shared with technical officers in line ministries and with the relevant committees in Parliament. In order to enhance their capacity for effective policy engage on governance and accountability, CSOs have formed strategic alliances and networks composed of national CSOs and international NGOs.

DPs support

DPs provide strategic support to CSOs to participate in high level anti-corruption policy dialogues which have enabled the CSOs to intervene strategically. DPs provided funds, information and non-financial support to CSOs, such as raising corruption issues of concern to CSOs, to the Government. Spaces for CSOs dialogue include the national and District Inter-agency forum, and Court Users Forum. Some CSOs also use mobile phones for feedback. Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU) and its regional affiliates, the regional Anti-Corruption Coalitions have initiated the gender Social Accountability Project, where 80 women per district are given mobile phones to collect information about performance and service delivery and submit it to the central data office at ACCU offices for analysis. It is expected that over 640 women will have participated in the project, and this will help to open dialogue on accountability issues of concern raised by the women.


Anti-Corruption CSOs in Uganda have engaged in policy dialogue at different stages which has made them a key stakeholder in the effort to combat corruption. Anti-Corruption CSOs have wider space for policy dialogue in Uganda. CSOs have benefited from close interaction with DPs who have considerable influence over the policy processes and to open up policy spaces that would otherwise have not been possible. Given that corruption is both endemic and institutionalised in Uganda, CSOs have been unable to consolidate policy dialogue in the midst of intimidation and capacity challenges. CSOs need to review their current strategies that have long-term effect.

The capacity gaps identified by CSOs may be minimised not only by acquiring human and financial resources but also by defining clear strategies to keep the dialogue spaces open and by documenting and sharing their experiences from lesson learnt.

3.2 Summary of Case Study 2: Dialogue on gender-based legislation

Policy dialogue issues

Ugandan women through various forms of organisations and in the recent past – CSOs – have negotiated spaces with Government and Parliament to repeal, and enact laws that are non-discriminatory to women. This case study was selected because for the first time in Uganda’s history, gender based legislations have been enacted over the last five years after protracted policy dialogue by CSOs in partnership with DPs and the National Gender Machinery.

The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) in Uganda brings together institutions[30] with closely linked mandates of administering justice and maintaining law and order and human rights. JLOS was formed to respond to chronic systemic constraints that hampered access to justice and service delivery, including inefficiencies and lack of effective procedural guidelines and performance standards in justice delivery institutions, including significant gender-based discrimination.[31] Policy dialogue on gender and women’s rights in Uganda has been on-going since independence 50 years ago. The struggle for women’s emancipation was suppressed between 1971 and 1980 during the days of Idi Amin, and re-emerged between 1980 and 1985 when some form of democratic system started emerging in Uganda. The process was halted by the constant wars. Significant progress has been made since 1986 when the current government assumed power, enhanced by the new Constitution of the Republic of Uganda enacted in 1995. Gender based dialogue has been focused on the enactment of laws to address gaps in sexual and gender based violence, prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), marriage and divorce, amendment of the Land Amendment Act, and equal opportunities commission.

Enabling environment and spaces for engagement

The constitution of Uganda provides for recognition of the rights of women, promotes and protects social justice and equality of all Ugandans. Specific articles address, amongst other things: the empowerment and encouragement of active participation of citizens, in governance at all levels and; gender balance and fair representation of marginalised groups. Although the Constitution has positive provisions, the laws in Uganda still discriminate against women and girls on matters of inheritance, marriage and divorce as well as property ownership. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) provided for under the constitution was recently established almost 10 years late, and has not yet had any significant impact. Women’s political representation in Parliament and at Local Council level is around 30%. The National Gender Policy (NGP) since 1997 was designed to ensure mainstreaming of gender concerns in the national development process. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) was set up, and spearheads the implementation of the Gender policy in sectoral ministries, government plans and programmes.[32] Since its creation, the ministry has been under-resourced and unable to effectively deliver on its mandate of spearheading gender responsive development. The exception is when the Ministry has been supported by DPs.[33] The MGLSD provides space for CSOs to engage in policy dialogue processes on gender.[34] The willingness of most DPs to support the work of CSOs involved in gender and women’s rights issues has been very significant in ensuring an enabling environment for policy dialogue on gender issues.

Challenges to the enabling environment

Gender equality constitutes a direct affront to existing power relations in a patriarchal society like Uganda. The current resistance to the Sexual Offences Bill and Marriage and Divorce Bill (M&DB) arises out of the attitudes entrenched in existing social structures, religious beliefs, and cultural beliefs and practices that still do not fully recognise women’s rights. While religious and cultural institutions have played an enabling role to pass some laws such as the Anti FGM and Domestic Violence Act, they have constrained the passage of legislation.[35] CSOs reported for example that while the Coalition on the Marriage and Divorce Law was seemingly united as “one”, one of their members representing the religious groups submitted opposing views to the Parliamentary Committee denouncing the views of the wider Coalition concerning proposed clauses on Cohabitation. It is vested political interests in the legislation which also tends to slow down progress. According to CSOs interviewed, some politicians may see a policy or law on gender equality as impacting negatively on their future political interests, especially where voters may not support gender equality. Dialogue on policy implementation is constrained by inadequate resource allocation to government departments, for implementation of gender responsive laws. The MGLSD has consistently been underfunded and has limited financial resources to execute its tasks.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

CSO engagement in policy dialogue has been aimed at: changing laws; ensuring that regulations and structures for implementation are in place; and following up on implementation and monitoring progress of implementation of the law. CSOs engaged in this process included Uganda Women’s Network, Centre for Domestic Violence (CEDOVIP), Uganda Women Lawyers Association (FIDA) Uganda, Forum for Women in Democracy, (FOWODE) and others to work on GBV Laws, Anti-FGM, Transitional Justice, Domestic Relations, Family Laws and several others. The recent past has seen more focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Sexual Offences Bill, and others, where donor funding has been prominent.[36] Gender related laws recently enacted include the FGM Act, Domestic Violence Act and the Trafficking in Persons Act. The laws provide a supportive legislative framework for CSO engagement in dialogue. Significant gains in policy dialogue are due to increased networking and coordination between CSOs, relevant government departments and other key stakeholders such as the religious, cultural institutions and DPs. CSOs have established vibrant coalitions and networks for a collective voice and actions for policy change.[37] Gains also included setting up the National SGBV Coalition coordinated by the MGLSD to which CSOs are members; the Equal Opportunities Commission Act, 2007; the National Equal Opportunities Policy and; Trafficking in Persons Act, 2010. The Constitutional Court declared some aspects of the divorce law as being unconstitutional for discriminating against women, after a public interest litigation led by FIDA Uganda. CSO proposals have been included in the revised National Gender Policy; the National Action Plan on Women (2007-10); the National Development Plan (2010/11-2014/15); the second Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda; the revisions to Police Form 3; the Ministry of health directive to districts to avail Post Exposure Prophylaxis services to survivors of sexual offences; and the introduction of Gender Budgeting into the Government’s budget call circular. Evidence-based research and analysis of policies and laws have facilitated CSO engagement with the Uganda Law Reform Commission. CSOs participation in government task forces and fora gave them opportunities to submit their views directly to formal spaces such as parliamentary committees. Strategies used by CSOs include policy briefs, fact sheets, petitions, and talking points for Members of Parliament.

At the community level, CSOs use community petitions and dialogue meetings. Two Joint Programmes on GBV are facilitating implementation of the domestic violence law, in partnership with Government, CSOs and the communities.[38] Regular monitoring of policy implementation is done by a few CSOs. For example, Uganda Women’s Network and its members monitor implementation of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).[39] FIDA Uganda monitors JLOS and gives feedback to law reform processes.

Challenges to CSO effectiveness

The gains in gender equality and women’s empowerment have long-term outcomes that need concerted effort over many years. The Domestic Relations Bill (DRB) was first tabled before Parliament on 9 December 2003. It was referred to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs by the House and was not brought back to the House until 2 May 2005. The bill has “mutated” into a several bills, including the “Family Law” or Marriage and Divorce Bill, as a tactical move to make it more “acceptable”. More contentious areas of policy dialogue in Uganda by CSOs include the Sexual Offences Bill and the Marriage and Divorce Bill, and the HIV/AIDs Prevention and Control Bill. Passage of the M&DB has been delayed due to opposition from some government officials and legislators, and religious/faith based CSOs. These laws had not been passed by the time of this study in 2012. It is often noted that, while Uganda has the best policies and laws in the continent, implementation remains poor.[40] CSO funding for policy dialogue is often short-term, and tied to particular time frames. Policy dialogue on gender issues is a protracted and costly process with results often transcending strategy and programme timeframes. The CSOs interviewed said they slow down their engagements when funding ends and first fundraise for additional funds, hence drawing back CSOs gains in the process.

Assessment of effectiveness of different strategies

Anecdotal evidence of the Domestic Violence Act, FGM Act, and Trafficking in Persons Act, according to CSOs suggests that the new laws have resulted in a reduction in domestic violence in the community. There are recorded improvements in the manner in which police personnel handle victims of domestic violence. The increasing power by religious (Christian and Moslem) and cultural institutions to influence legislation in the country has stimulated policy dialogue on gender issues. The religious leaders passed a resolution on domestic violence and asked the clerics to condemn violence at every opportunity during prayers. The engagement of religious leaders in policy dialogue by CSOs however has been controversial and contributed to delays of enactment of the Marriage and Divorce Law due to disagreements on proposals to outlaw polygamy and recognition of cohabitation.[41] The involvement of women in cultural institutions, for example the Lango Women’s Clan Initiative, facilitated policy dialogue on women’s rights.

Coalition building and networking among CSOs/CBOs, and other stakeholders such as DPs and Government has increased CSO effectiveness,[42] and ownership of the process by all involved. According to the MGLSD, CSOs participated in drawing-up the guidelines for the laws to ensure that all issues of concern are included. The DVA Coalition has worked with Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) to translate the Domestic Violence Act into eight languages and the Land Act, and is now training duty bearers. CSOs made a contribution to revisions to police ’Form 3’ which allows other medical officers to examine victims of GBV, and sign the form. GBV-PEP Coalition engagement with Ministry of Health led to the directive to districts to ensure that victims of violence can access PEP services. Communities petition their councillors and members of parliament to pass bye-laws, ordinances and laws.[43] Constitutional petitions in relation to bride price and discriminatory provisions in the Marriage and Divorce Bill were introduced by CSOs.


Findings from the study show strong CSO engagement at formulation and adoption, and less involvement in monitoring, especially for newly formulated laws. Financial investment in women and gender related CSOs by DPs has been critical in the success of policy dialogue.[44] Challenges still remain with gender based policy dialogue because gender sensitive legislation has potential to challenge gender power relations. Lack of gender-disaggregated data to inform policy, planning and resource allocation, still constrains the evidence collection processes. Changing the status quo is a long-term and continuous process, requiring commitment of both human and financial resources and considerable investment in capacity building.

3.3 Summary of Case Study 3: Forest management and governance

This case study explores the role played by CSOs at international, national, district and community level. Specifically the study examines the space in which CSO’s working in the environment and natural resource sub-sector operate, their effectiveness and the support provided by DPs.

Policy dialogue issues

A comprehensive programme of reform in the forestry sector by Government dates back to the period 1998 to 2004 with the introduction of a number of important policies on the sustainable management and governance of the ’Permanent Forest Estate’ (PFE), which some observers describe as models for other countries. Yet the forest sector in Uganda is in a state of crisis, with Uganda ranked as sixth out of 62 countries in the world with the highest levels of deforestation, due to encroachment, illegal logging and forest clearance for large-scale commercial cropping, which over the period 1990 to 2005 was equivalent to a loss of 27% of the area.[45] This loss of forest has occurred in spite of the policies which provide the legal basis for the major institutional changes initiated under the reform programme. The Policy resulted in creation of the semi-autonomous National Forests Authority (NFA) with responsibility for Central Forest Reserves with the Ministry of Water and the Environment (MoWE) which also has responsibility for regulation and oversight through the Forest Sector Support Department (FSSD). The implementation of forest management outside the Central Reserves has been devolved to District Forest Services (DFS).

Studies[46] show that the organisational reforms have stalled. While the NFA made some significant progress in the early years, its recent performance has been characterised by poor standards of governance and an inability to manage political pressures and a financial crisis, donor partners withdrawing their support, resulting in subsequent lack of any real effectiveness. The other key players, e.g. the Ministry of Water and Environment and District level agencies were never able to carry out their roles effectively.

Enabling environment and spaces for engagement

There is a widely held view among CSOs that the environment to participate in the policy dialogue has, at least until fairly recently, has been positive with some important qualifications. The 2001 Forest Policy provisions in regard to CSOs are further developed in the subsequent National Forest Plan (2002): The main instruments envisaged by the NFP to drive changes in institutional relationships include... defining specific roles for NGOs ... strengthening of civil society, by supporting civil society organisations and creating more open processes in government policy-making.” (National Forest Plan, Section 6.1) and there is tangible evidence of the Government’s positive policy towards CSOs at different stages of the policy cycle (inclusion in the annual joint sector review process).

However, along with CSOs working in other sectors, there are a number of threats to this otherwise seemingly positive environment. These include the NGO Amendment Act 2006 to require annual re-registration of CSOs, which is seen as a move to restrict and control their activities. At a practical day-to-day level, CSO representatives on government committees expressing alternative views can cause friction. An importantly there is a lack of trust of government implementing agencies at the higher level, who are supposed to be the custodians of the forest, as the same agency is may undermine policies and resources to the detriment of the forest estate. However, the majority of technical staff in the sector are professionals, fully dedicated to the cause of sustainable forest management. CSO engagement is further hampered by the lack of coherence of policy implementation across a number of institutions, fragmented and poorly coordinated agencies and the use of ’political’ decisions to override technically sound recommendations.

There is a contradiction between policy and political Agenda: CSOs working in the forestry sector have formulated a clear strategy on engagement including advocacy, lobbying, information dissemination and working with communities on good management practices. However, policy engagement at different stages of the cycle is faced with the challenge that the Government’s political agenda for forests is not in line with the current stated policy. The goal and ambition set out in the Forest Policy and National Forest Plan are not being followed. There are concerns that recourse to the law (i.e. challenging government in the courts) may not be fully effective. Thus, engagement on policy matters centres therefore on how CSOs can most effectively deploy their resources.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

Effectiveness is assessed for each of the key stages of the policy cycle, however, given the problems with implementation of the stated policies much of focus of CSOs is at the implementation level. CSOs still operate particularly in the policy formulation stage in the field of climate change, where Uganda does not yet have a comprehensive policy. The CSO targets policy makers, political leaders, Government and DPs.

On the other hand attempts to influence budgetary provisions to the forest sector at both national and local level were largely unsuccessful, but efforts still continue to contribute to national and district level planning and budgeting processes.

Implementation stage: The main lesson from the study is that in this sector there are strong polices, but weak governance, poor implementation and lack compliance with the laws and regulations in the forest sector. This contradiction has resulted in much of the engagement with policy makers focusing on several fronts to support the implementation of forestry policy and national plans. While many of these follow traditional forms of ’supportive’ engagement, CSOs have also in a number of cases resorted to more confrontational measures. There are a number of documented cases of CSOs challenging government over proposed degazettement of forest areas (e.g. the case of land in Mabira and Kalangala Forests, where part of the forest was to be turned into turned into sugar cane and oil palm plantations.

Monitoring and evaluation: The third stage in the policy cycle, monitoring and evaluation and lesson learning, is an area where CSO can make a significant contribution, with much of what is written and documented by the CSOs in forestry governance is in the area of monitoring and evaluation. Published documents provide an evidence-based commentary on the results and impact of government programmes at national and local level. They also monitor and provide information on community activities and the action of private forest owners and commercial (investor) interests.

CSOs have also carried out a self-assessment appraisal of CSOs is documented in the ’Environment and Natural Resources Civil Society Organisations Performance Report, 2010/2011’. Whilst not particularly rigorous in terms of a self-assessment, the review provides an excellent window into the work of CSOs in the ENR sector, and builds on the collaborative efforts of Government and civil society to work together for development.

Assessment of effectiveness of different strategies

Capacity building of community based organisations: CSOs are involved in a range of policy implementation initiatives with CSOs working with local government agencies and communities in implementing the forest management programmes, with a focus on capacity building and empowerment of communities. While it is not possible to give an objective assessment of the outcome of these interventions, documentary information backed up with interviews with CSOs and government agencies indicate that CSOs provide virtually the only means of effectively interacting with communities on forest policy implementation. The overriding challenge is however the politicisation of the management of forest resources and the undermining of professional decisions of the technical staff in the agencies.[47] A number of CSOs which initially relied on networking arrangements now focus on capacity building of local communities in the areas of conservation and local area development. They hope that this will strengthen community capacity to demand for accountability in forestry governance.

Networks and coalitions: The CSOs in the forestry sector operate as individual entities or with a membership to one of the principal alliances, e.g. the Uganda Forestry Working Group (UFWG), comprising CSOs, individuals, academic organisations, and government agencies. UFWG is seen as a platform where stakeholders in the forestry sector come together to influence development and independently monitor the implementation of the National Forest Plan (NFP). UFWG has an effective secretariat, a clear strategy for the group (as set out in the 2011 Strategic Plan) and a membership comprising a group of highly professional people, formed around a joint aim of improving forestry policies, management and governance through policy dialogue process. The Group has deliberately stayed away from formal registration for strategic reasons, to remain as a lose network which gives safety against intimidation, at the same time, allows them greater flexibility to work together. This does not appear to limit their ability to secure DP contracts.

CSOs, the media and civil society and the campaign to save the Mabira Forest: One of the most high profile cases where civil society challenged the Government was the “Save Mabira Crusade” organised by UFWG in 2007 to prevent the degazettement of Mabira Forest (some 50 km to the east of Kampala) to use the land for sugar cane. National Association for Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) was one of the member organisations working at the forefront of the campaign although such strategies are not without personal risk to those engaging in more direct means of engagement.

The Mabira case is well documented, involving CSOs, the media as well as government and parliamentarians. The scale of the national and international campaign did halt the plans, but continued encroachment and illegal tree felling continue to degrade the resource through permits issued by government. That aside, the power of civil society and the media in Uganda was clearly evident in this case.

Peaceful means through dialogue: Policy dialogue takes place at local and national levels with politicians and policy makers. Engagement with technical staff in the government agencies is also very important and indeed welcomed as the government agencies find themselves partly dependent on the professional resources of CSOs for data collection, M&E, writing of policy briefs and for CSOs to engage with the communities on the implementation of programmes. Some CSOs, especially the international CSOs have a specific policy to promote policy dialogue and try to solve issues through peaceful means. CARE Uganda while initially focusing on issues of wildlife management on case by case basis, have widened its scope to include the issues of forest governance nationally. Among the CSOs themselves, there were a number of examples of the ’invited space’ for policy dialogue which have been effectively used by CSOs. Environment Alert, ACODE and others are participating in the on-going policy debate on Uganda’s role in combating climate change. They have produced briefing papers on key challenges and issues for consideration in policy development.[48] NGOs in the sector are regularly invited to attend government committees. CSOs also take initiatives to invite parliamentarians to participate in meetings and briefings and the Forest Governance Learning Group[49] was cited as taking a lead in this process.

Public interest litigation: The Forest Governance CSOs have used Public Interest Litigation to seek legal redress to protect the Citizens and get justice especially where dialogue has failed or as a strategy to accompany dialogue. Public interest litigation has been spearheaded by CSOs such as ACODE with their knowledge of environmental law. The CSO works on behalf of other CSOs in the network and they are supported by the coalitions along the way.

Box 3 An example of public interest litigation

Butamira Forest was licensed for sugar cane to a large Ugandan corporation. The Government and the company ignored the fact that the community had been issued permits to plant trees, whose permits were overridden by the permit issued to the sugar cane company which took over the forest area and cut down the trees planted by the communities. A CSO (ACODE) filed a case on behalf of 300 community members and won in court, with a court ruling that that the Company Permit was null and void and did not comply with the law.

CSOs, said that they will use both policy dialogue with government and the courts of law to continue the process of saving the forest. In the Butamira Case, the Government and sugar company have completely ignored the court ruling and continued with the plantation. According to the CSOs interviewed, the company was protected by the present Government, and that the protection would continue for as long as the government stays in power.

Evidence-based research: has been an important entry strategy for CSOs in policy dialogue work. The forestry sector has a more refined and professional approach to policy dialogue and rely heavily on research findings to produce any credible arguments. Several case studies, research papers and programme assessments have been carried out in the ENR sector. Anecdotal evidence obtained during the study, suggests that this resource is essential to both technical staff in the main government agencies at both national and district level. Research is also seen as vital by MPs who said that it was crucial for scrutinising governance of the agencies and of the forestry sector in general. There are also examples where the Ugandan President himself has been ’positively’ influenced by CSO briefing documents.

Media Advocacy: The media has been a key partner and interlocutor on issues of forestry governance in Uganda. During the FGD with the media, they mentioned that they deliberately sought out CSOs to work with them on the Mabira Forest issue in order to “frustrate” the government plans to ’give away’ the forest.

DP support

Funding of CSOs is typically linked to specific programmes, and thus while providing an ’invited space’ may not be the space the CSO wants to engage in. CARE, (along with the Uganda Wildlife Fund) were seen as one of the few CSOs where DP funds specifically provided funding facilities that could be drawn down in a relatively flexible way, so that the CSO had the freedom use funds when it saw an opportunity to do so.[50]

Lessons and conclusions

Mismatch between policies and practice: A key feature of the working environment and challenge for CSOs in forestry is the mismatch between what is a comprehensive set of policies for safeguarding the forest and the reality of rapid deforestation. Both a lack of funds and the politicisation of the agencies responsible for forest management is the key contributor to the current crisis most frequently cited by stakeholders as responsible for undermining effective policy implementation.

Community empowerment: CSOs have tried to fill the resource gap in the government agencies, by providing information to the communities and citizens and providing them with the skills on how engage with duty bearers. However, this process needs to go further if forests are to be managed sustainably. Empowerment of community level organisations to directly manage the forest resources in their localities is seen as the main strategic goal which CSOs need to pursue. This would imply a shift in responsibility to the communities and the individual forest owners so they are empowered to take on the task of holding the government agencies and private sector to account, while working in an effective (and more equal) partnership with those agencies which are mandated to safeguard and manage the forest resource in the country.

Strengthening the capacity of national and local level networks: CSOs recognise they will require support across a number of fronts:[51]

  • Improved coordination and networking amongst different CSO organisations;
  • improved information dissemination; improved and sustained funding of CSOs; and
  • a need to focus on parliamentary committees and to tackle governance and budgetary allocations.

As above, CSOs have also recognised the need to carry out a sustained programme of engagement with communities in key forest areas.

[13] The additional annex can be downloaded from and is also available on the CD-ROM attached to the Synthesis Report.

[14] Details are contained in the unabridged version of the report.

[15] Government of Uganda (2003), National Strategy to Combat Corruption in Uganda 2003-07.

[16] The World Bank (2005), The World Development Report, Washington D.C. This figure is cited in The Uganda Country-Self Assessment Report and Programme of Action, Nov. 2007, p. 242.

[17] ACODE petitioned the Constitutional Court in 2011 to challenge the payment of UGX 20 million to Members of Parliament by Government.

[18] NACS entitled the Strategy to Fight Corruption and Rebuild Ethics and Integrity in Uganda (2009-13)

[19] These include the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, Inspectorate of Government (IGG), Office of the Auditor General (AG), the Directorate of Public Institutions (DPP), Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development put in place the budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU), Oversight committees of Parliament which include the Public Account Committee (PAC), the Parliamentary Local Government Public Accounts Committee (LGPAC), the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises and the Legal and Parliamentary Committee.

[20] Factors crucial for anti-corruption in Uganda include i) Zero Tolerance to Corruption by government; ii) a comprehensive legal and instructional framework; iii) participation of CSOs in developing and implementation of anti-corruption strategies, iv) having a collaborative process between Government and CSOs and v) the media providing the base for mobilizing the citizen to be vigilant against corruption.

[21] Spearheaded by Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda.

[22] Uganda Debt Network has engaged with Parliament of Uganda to institute accountability mechanisms for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The CDF is a UGX 10 million fund given annually to each Member of Parliament by Government, as a grant to initiate development programs in their constituents.

[23] MP Bihande representing Bukonzo East Constituency pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement and stealing government funds and was fined UGX 2 million.

[24] See ACODE Policy Dialogue Series No. 15 201 a Synthesis Report of the Proceedings of the Parliamentary Symposium on Oil and Gas Development in Uganda at

[25] The structures include Community Monitoring Committees (CMS), Gender Budget Committees, Village Budget Clubs, Budget Monitoring Committees (BMC) set up by various CSOs.

[26] UDN developed the Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation Systems (CBMES) in more than 13.

[27] CSOs have used PETS to track the flow of public resources from the Central Government to the lower level Local Government level, and findings are shared in public dialogues organized by CSOs.

[28] The score card provides evidence of performance of leaders and their effectiveness of their roles and functions. Tool used by ACODE.

[29] In January 2011, at the time of elections, a supplementary budget of over UGX 600 billion was requested and passed by Parliament of Uganda. During 2011 the President requested and obtain USD 740 million (UGX 1.7 trillion) without the approval of Parliamentary to purchase five jet fighters for Uganda’s Air Force. Some of the supplementary budgets are requested and approved after the money has already been spent.

[30] The government institutions include: Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MOJCA); Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA); The Judiciary; Uganda Police Force (UPF); Uganda Prison Service (UPS); Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP); Judicial Service Commission (JSC); The Ministry of Local Government (Local Council Courts); The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (Probation and Juvenile Justice); The Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC); The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC); The Law Development Centre (LDC); The Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT); The Uganda Law Society (ULS); Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER) and The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) Brief outline of relevant policy instruments.


[32] Contribution of Women in Influencing Legislation and Policy Formulation and Implementation in Uganda (1995-2005), CODSRIA Africa Development, Vol. XXXIV, Nos 3 & 4, 2009, pp. 167-206, Elijah Dickens Mushemeza.

[33] Ibid.

[34] MGLSD works with CSOs such as UWONET, FIDA Uganda), CEDOVIP and several others to influence policy change.

[35] Strong opposition to the M&DB saw Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) moving to petition the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee on the day the committee. The UJCC views were contrary to the views of the M&DB Coalition, of which they are members.

[36] The support has mainly come from Sweden, Austria, UK, Denmark, Ireland and Norway through support to JLOS and other DP funding mechanisms.

[37] Examples include the Domestic Violence Bill Coalition and now Domestic Violence Act Coalition, the GBV-PEP Coalition, the Sexual Offences Bill Coalition and the Marriage and Divorce Bill Coalition.

[38] GBV Joint Programme Coordinated by MoGLSD and supported by Irish AID and the UN Joint Programme on GBV coordinated by UNFPA and supported by Norway.

[39] UWONET produced the CSO Alternative Report on Uganda’s Implementation of CEDAW, September 2010.

[40] As noted by one multilateral donor partner representative.

[41] Muslims and traditionalists would like to uphold polygamy. Recognition of cohabitation before marriage is not supported by the churches, who want the clause removed. Both argue that the law is in violation of the religious principles. CSOs argue that the practice of cohabitation and Polygamy both disadvantage women.

[42] Examples of the coalitions established include: the Domestic Violence Act Coalition which initially started as the Domestic Violence Bill (DVB) Coalition; Marriage and Divorce Bill Coalition; Sexual Offences Bill, Anti HIV/AIDS Bill Coalition; GBV-PEP Coalition; and Anti Homosexuality Bill. The DVB and DVA Coalition was spearheaded by CEDOVIP and key members included UWONET and FIDA Uganda.

[43] Bye-laws passed include the Kawempe bye-law on domestic violence by CEDOVIP, the Kirewa bye-law on bride price and the Tororo Bridal Gifts Ordinance by MIFUMI.

[44] DPs investing in Gender include Sida, Austria, Danida, Irish Aid, DFID, and Norway. Others such as Irish Aid and Danida (in the past) have directly supported the MGLSD to spear-head gender related policies and involve CSOs as partners. Programmes supported include the UN Gender Joint Programme through UN Women (DFID support), UN GBV Joint Programme through UNFPA (Norway supported), GBV Gender Joint Programme with MGLSD & CSOs (Irish Aid supported). In the past, instrumental support came from DFID, Civil Society Umbrella Programme which funded Women’s CSOs to engage in pro-poor policy dialogue, and WID/GAD-Danida support to MGLSD which established structures and policy for gender in the country.

[45] Uganda’s environment and natural resources: Enhancing Parliament’s oversight, Uganda Wildlife Society, 2010.

[46] Review of the Forest Sector, Uganda; LTS International for Ministry of Water and Environment, funded by Royal Norwegian Embassy, 2010.

[47] Section 3.1.5, Environment and Natural Resources Civil Society Organisations Performance Report, 2010/2011.

[48] Climate change in Uganda. Insights for long-term adaptation and building community resilience; Environmental Alert July 2010.

[49] The Forest Governance Learning Group is facilitated internationally by the International Institute for Environment and Development and is convened by ACODE.

[50] Rights and Equity Protected Areas Programme (REPA II), 2009-13.

[51] UFWG strategic plan 2011-16.

This page forms part of the publication 'Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue' as chapter 6 of 19
Version 1.0. 07-01-2013
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