Global Poverty Research Group

Institutions and development in Uganda


The research instruments that have been used to analyse both household and firm data are being developed by researchers in the GPRG to investigate issues of institutional quality. In Uganda the NGO sector has been growing in size since the 1980s.  As donors and Governments try to work more closely with NGOs, there has been a growing need for accurate data on the activities and capacity of the sector. The Ugandan Government’s motivation for this NGO survey is its desire to upgrade its partnership with the NGO sector. It is the intention of the government to promote this partnership and to enhance and up-grade the capacity of NGOs in order to enable the sector to participate effectively in service delivery, and raise the pace of development in rural areas and of poverty eradication nationwide.

Historically, in Uganda, most NGOs were charity-driven religious institutions.  However, with the onset of the NRM Administration in Uganda (from 1986), there has been an explosive growth in the number of NGOs, especially in the service delivery sectors, such as, health, education, micro-finance, roads, water and sanitation, and agriculture.

In the late 1980's, the Government of Uganda decided that all NGOs operating in Uganda should be registered with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and operate under the regulations and policy advocacy of the Office of the Prime Minister.  This policy decision to manage this fast-growing sector, through registration with a National NGO Registration Board, was enacted into law in 1989 (NGO's Registration Statute).  This was amended in 2000 (NGO’s Registration Amendment Act).  Additionally, a decision to create a NGO Database was also made in the same year (2000).  The total number of NGOs registered with the Ministry of Internal Affairs was about 3,500 in 2000/2001, much bigger than the number of registered Private Sector establishments (about 2500).

However, the sector is beset by a number of structural problems, including: non-registration with the NGO Board (and/or districts) - the population picture is incomplete; existential uncertainties, including incidences of phantoms (non-existent NGOs), ghosts (non-performing or ‘dead’ NGOs), delinquencies (not performing according to declared mandates); data paucity; and poor policy framework.

Therefore, the GOU has designed a study to address the above and (other related) short-comings with the data currently available.  Through two surveys - a detailed questionnaire administered to 300 NGOs (100 in Kampala, 200 in the districts), and a focus group interview administered to the community in which the NGO operates, the Government aims to define the following: the population characteristics of NGOs; the major functions/roles of NGOs in the economy of Uganda; the type and nature of services delivered by NGOs; areas for capacity building in the NGO Sector; well-defined collaboration efforts of NGOs as partners with government in development; performance benchmarks for NGOs; a monitoring and evaluation system (for performance of NGOs).

The World Bank is conducting a study of NGOs as service providers in developing countries. The objectives of the study are to describe the work of development NGOs in Bangladesh and Uganda, assess their effectiveness and efficiency, analyze resource flows to and from NGOs and incentives within the organizations, and understand what factors motivate NGOs and their staff. To that end, the World Bank is collaborating with the GPRG to compile, clean, and analyze data from surveys of NGOs in Uganda and Bangladesh, and then to co-author academic papers based on the data.

Reseachers to contact for this project

Marcel Fafchamps