Current State of poverty levels in Uganda.
It has been documented over and over again that, majority of the people in Uganda are increasingly sliding into poverty with numbers shooting from 6.6 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2016/17 (Uganda Bureau of Statistics Report on Uganda National Household Survey report 2016/17). These figures automatically imply that income poverty levels are rising from 19.7% to 27%, where income poverty levels here means the proportion of Ugandans whose personal income lies below the poverty line, which is $1.25 (about 4,500UGX) a day.
These findings imply that despite government’s multiple development efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, many Ugandans are slowly sliding into abject poverty thus becoming poor and vulnerable. One of the factors as to why these figures are going up is that, despite the fact that over 80% of Ugandans depend on agriculture for food, shelter, employment and income, many poor women and youth cannot access or own land as an economic resource, meaning they are unable to afford such basics of life as shelter, food, water, employment and income to live a purposeful life.
In September 2016, the World Bank Uganda Poverty Assessment Fact Sheet defined poverty as the lack of or insufficiency of money to meet basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. The assessment noted that much as poverty can be measured in monetary terms basing on the monthly or annual expenditure of a given individual, it is much more than mere lack of money. The assessment revealed that poverty is also about when one is deprived of other important areas of well being such as education, health, water, housing and opportunity to create their own income.
With many communities, especially those in the rural settings of Uganda continuously locked in the poverty situation grappling with problems that are globally in scope and intrinsically multi-faceted such as HIV/AIDS, inadequate healthcare, poor education, scarcity of water, corruption, climate change, conflicts, environmental issues among others, making a business case for the corporate sector to actively engage in purpose driven CSR through our shared values is increasingly becoming clear and obvious
The state of CSR in Uganda
Although Uganda has some local businesses that are trying to demonstrate their ability in making a significant difference in some of the sectors mentioned above to improve the quality of life of many poor Ugandans, one of the biggest challenges that still remains is that CSR is not formalized. A lot of times, CSR is associated with philanthropy or charity giving, where benchmarks such as CSR codes, standards, management systems and reports which are commonly used by developed countries are largely absent and a lot of times ignored. Even in the rarest instances where the most basic formalized procedures relating to CSR issues exists, for example waste management policies and occupational health and safety guidelines, majority of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) do not follow them. They instead apply informal approaches based on intuition, integrity and personal sense of ethics.
Our take on the Subject
As we continue to explore more innovative and creative approaches to create change through our shared values, it is critical that all business entrepreneurs including Small Medium Enterprises (MSEs), bigger companies including international corporations doing business in Uganda, be aware of the need and concerns of communities they operate their businesses. Similarly, for international companies already working in Uganda to always remember to adhere to international standards of CSR, so that we can together create a win-win business environment through our shared values and solve more social problems.