Highlights from selected projects in Uganda
In Uganda, sexual and reproductive health is at a disadvantage. Knowledge and understanding of the reasons behind and consequences of unplanned pregnancies and the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases is critical for Uganda’s youth. Sweden has supported Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre for more than 10 years with the purpose of contributing to the reduction of unplanned teenage pregnancies, sexual violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. One of the many activities at the teenage centre is health dialogues led by trained youth leaders. Dialogues take place two to three times per day reaching between 60-120 youths daily.
Sweden is supporting different actors working to increase demand for and access to basic good-quality health and medical care services. One of the projects is implemented by the World Bank through the Ministry of Health (MoH) and has as its main objective to improve utilization of essential health services with a focus on reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health services in the 79 target districts. The districts were selected on the basis of having high maternal and child health disease burden. Half-way through project implementation, two key quantitative results linked to the results-based financing activities of the project are:
i) An increase in the percentage of births attended by skilled personnel from 50% to 58% between 2014 and 2019, and;
ii) An increase in the percentage of health centers offering caesarian sections, from 50% to 77% in the same period.
Swedish support to democracy and human rights is mainly conducted through cooperation with civil society. An important goal is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to hold duty bearers accountable and safeguard the rights of citizens as laid down in Ugandan law and through international conventions.
Sweden, as one of eight donors, has provided assistance to the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) programme since July 2011. Through the DGF, Sweden is able to support a large number of organizations throughout the country and ensure added value by coordinating with like-minded donors. Support from DGF includes state partners that are working with democratic governance and increased respect for human rights in the country. It played an important role for voter education in the preparations for the 2016 elections. More broadly, the supported local NGOs strive to make people aware of their rights, ensure more inclusive access to justice and promote peace and reconciliation.
Diakonia is a Swedish organization that works with the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights through its cooperation with Ugandan civil society organizations. Diakonia’s partners have a strong presence in the north-eastern parts of Uganda. They have a broad range of activities that includes women's political participation and reducing gender-based violence, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is still a common practice in Eastern Uganda. The support through Zoa has contributed to changing mindsets of traditional surgeons and leaders. Slowly the acceptance for FGM is diminishing.
Economic growth and productive employment
The Swedish support to increased opportunities for poor people to contribute to and benefit from economic growth and obtain good education integrates competitiveness, productive employment for youth and women, and access to and control of productive resources for women. The portfolio composition has so far contributed to inclusive growth mainly through interventions targeting the rural agricultural sector with specific focus on women and youth. This has increasingly been done in collaboration with the private sector.
The agriculture sector in Northern Uganda is highly fragmented, meaning that investments, productivity and income remain low. As result economic growth remains sluggish and food insecurity high. Sweden has therefore since 2015 supported Mercy Corps, which is committed to improving economic growth and food security in the northern Uganda. The project focusing on providing improved access to agricultural services and commodity markets, as well as providing financial skills and training in business. Mercy Corps cooperates with the private sector and focuses on buying and exporting organic products such as sesame and cotton. The support has resulted in effective training and 45 000 farmers have gained a more proficiency in economics and 1200 farmers have been linked with appropriate service providers by 2016. New innovations to increase agricultural productivity have also evolved which has shown positive results for women and children. The conditions for job creations have thus improved, which generates revenue and in turn economic growth.
To address the challenges in the Ugandan decentralized energy market and make use of new opportunities and innovations now emerging, UNCDF, through the CleanStart Programme, is implementing a Renewable Energy Challenge Fund (RECF) with support from the Embassy of Sweden in Kampala.
RECF aims to support 153,000 low-income customers transition to renewable energy, of which at least 50 percent are women and 50 percent are youth. RECF further aims to create 1,000 new jobs, of which at least 60 percent of these jobs are for women and 40 percent, are for youth (the women and youth groups may overlap e.g. female youth sales agent). This will be done through the energy enterprises and also through new livelihood opportunities with renewable energy. Up to 160,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions is expected to be off-set as a result. In terms of market development, CleanStart aims to support a target of 15 renewable energy SMEs which will continue to serve the community after the project period ends and demonstrate the viability of clean energy companies. The long-term vision for RECF is to become a stand-alone facility for development partners to provide coordinated, market-catalysing support to energy SMEs in Uganda, and contribute to one of Government of Uganda’s energy sector priorities which is to increase access to modern energy services through rural electrification and renewable energy development.
Every country needs local capacity within the areas of medicine, technology and innovation in order to develop their own research base. Therefore, Makerere University together with four regional universities has been receiving Swedish support since 2000. Since then approximately 73.3 million USD has been granted to Ugandan and Swedish Universities for research cooperation. Over the years, the main focus has been to strengthen the research capacity in the country and thus increase the production and use of scientifically based knowledge that contributes to Uganda's development.
The current research programme (November 2015- June 2020) amounts to approximately 33 million USD. The program consists of 17 research projects where 11 Swedish Universities collaborates with 4 Ugandan universities with Makerere in Kampala as the primary responsibility for the program. Natural Science, Social Sciences and Health Sciences are the main areas for the cooperation with additional programs for institutional support. Focus for the current program is to strengthen the training of PhD locally, establishment of multidisciplinary research teams addressing broad thematic areas, training for partner public universities and establishing synergies and collaborations with regional programs supported by Sweden. Gender and social dimensions will be addressed in all research projects.
Example: Resilient eco-systems
Partnership for Building Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods to Climate Change and Disaster (BREAD) is one of the 17 research projects in the current research programme. The project is collaboration between Makerere University and Gulu University in Uganda, Lund and Uppsala University in Sweden. The overall objective is to increase society’s resilience to climate change and disaster.
Promising adaptation and mitigation technologies and practices in varied ecological zones will be tested and promoted. This project will increase exchange across the science-policy interface that builds community resilience and safety to disaster risks through knowledge generation and transfer.
So far the BREAD project has recruited 3 PhDs and 2 Post docs and has influence the national policy through dissemination of gained knowledge at the National Disaster Risk reduction Forum. Furthermore, research cooperation has been established between Makerere university and local governments (Kabale , Bududa districts, Shunya community based organisation, primary and secondary schools, Kwamwenge local community and Masindi Natural Resource Management); Office of Prime Minister. A new curriculum for PhD training in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) has been developed and presented for relevant stakeholder in Mbale district in order to get their input before finalizing and presenting to relevant organs of the university for approval.
A Centre for Hazard and Disaster research has been established at Makerere University.