PRESS RELEASE - Launch of the 2015 Global, and Uganda National Human Development Reports

Dec 16, 2015

National Human Development Report calls for prioritisation of land reforms, developing mining sector, and increased private sector investment as key to unlocking development potential of Northern Uganda

KAMPALA Adoption of a bold mix of inclusive and transformative innovations, focusing on land reforms, developing the mineral and tourism sectors, is vital to accelerate the development transformation of Northern Uganda.

Such innovations must be built around transforming the region’s greatest social challenge in to an opportunity - the ‘too late to go back to school’ segment of the population, as well as the unemployed and underemployed youth – to unlock the economic potential, especially in the Agricultural sector.

This would potentially create a level-playing field to spur sustainable development and enable the region to catch up with the rest of the country, according to the Uganda National Human Development Report (UHDR), produced by United Nations Development Programme in Uganda.

The report, titled “Unlocking the development potential of Northern Uganda, will be launched at the Imperial Royale Hotel by Rt Honourable Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda.

It is the 8th in a series of National Human Development Reports commissioned over the years by UNDP, with the last edition in 2007 focusing on the means of revitalising Agriculture to trigger economic and human development in Uganda.

This year’s report builds on the numerous research and national interventions into Northern Uganda, following decades of instability and underdevelopment. The region, which has been, and remains a priority of UNDP’s support and other UN agencies in Uganda - has made steady development progress since peace was restored in 2006.

The region’s Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.431, compares unfavourably with the 0.463 HDI for the rest of Uganda, although the gap is narrowing gradually with poverty significantly reduced from 61 percent in 2005/06 to 44 percent in 2012/2013. In addition, progress has been made in health and education – catalysed by Government of Uganda’s Peace Recovery and Development Plans (PRDPI&II).

“As the Government sets out to implement the third phase of PRDP, this National Human Development Report proposes a shift of attention from recovery to a new era of enhanced productivity, enlarged capabilities and choices, as well as transformative interventions,” notes Ms Almaz Gebru, Country Director, and acting Resident Representative, UNDP.

She adds: “Making the right choices at this critical point will not only benefit more than eight million people, but also position the region as a role model for other countries that are transitioning from post-conflict to development”.

According to the report, development is essentially about people and their well-being. It calls for sensitivity and caution in undertaking some of the proposed reforms. Respect for traditional and social-cultural norms relating to communal ownership would need to be taken in to account to avoid arousing negative sentiments and potential conflict within communities.

The contribution of the mining sector to socio-economic development, particularly in Karamoja, requires a strong supportive institutional framework, to trigger a multiplier effect on employment and value addition. Similar reforms and incentives in the livestock and crop sub-sectors are equally critical in transitioning Karamoja from traditional to settled livelihood and integrate its pastoral economy with others in the neighbouring countries such as South Sudan and Kenya in order to harness synergies.

Tourism   – if well developed as a stop gap measure – can potentially drive development by building supportive infrastructure for the education, health, transport and energy sectors to bridge regional inequalities and vulnerabilities.

On the other hand, the Global Human Development Report, explores the vital link between decent work and human development to tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion. It advocates for a sustainable development agenda that promote productive work that is inclusive, equitable, expands social protection; and promotes fair income and security in the work place for workers and their families.

According to the global 2015 Human Development Report (HDR), Uganda’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2014 is 0.483 – down from 0.484 in 2013, which puts the country in the Low Human Development category. This index is below the Sub-Saharan Africa average (0.518) and ranks the country at 163 out of 188 countries in the world.  

The HDI is a summary measure of long-term progress in four basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge; a decent standard of living and gender equality.

In Uganda’s case, there has been significant improvement in these four areas despite the marginal improvement in ranking over the last two years. Between 1980 and 2014, Uganda’s HDI increased from 0.285 to 0.483 – a rank shared with Haiti and Rwanda – which is an increase of 69.4 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.56 percent.

According to the report, Uganda’s life expectancy at birth increased by 9.3 years, mean years of schooling increased by 3.6 years while expected years of schooling also increased by 5.8 years. Similarly, per capita income has been rising and now measures 123.1 percent. Poverty, according to the report, has fallen from 56.4% in 1992/93 to 19.7% in 2012/13.

In terms of gender equality, Uganda ranks 122 out of 155 – with at least 35 percent of Parliamentary seats held by women, 22.9 percent of adult women having attained secondary level education compared to 33.5 percent for males. These important gains are however clouded by other significant challenges that need redress. For example, for every 100,000 live births, 360 women die from pregnancy related causes; and the adolescent birth rate remains high at 126.6 births per 1,000 women of ages 15-19. Female participation in the labour market is 75.8 percent compared to 79.2 percent for men.

Investment in pro-poor policies and significant investments in people’s capabilities through a focus on education, nutrition and health, and employment skills would expand access to decent work and provide for sustained progress in Uganda, according to the Report.

“Both the Global and National Human Development Reports reinforce the key issues that need action as we embark on implementing the second phase of the National Development Plan (NDPII). Ensuring that  inequalities and vulnerabilities – be it relating to decent work or those that are regional specific to Northern Uganda – are addressed comprehensively and with right policies and sensitivities is critical to ensuring that human development improvements are realized  and sustained in the country,” says  Mr Tony Muhumuza, National Economist at UNDP, in Uganda.

Globally, the Human Development Report 2015 titled “Rethinking Work for Human Development” was launched officially in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on December 14 by UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn.  In Uganda, the dual launch of the Global and National Human Development Reports is jointly organised in partnership with Government of Uganda, and Makerere University’s Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) which also prepared and authored the report on behalf of UNDP.

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ABOUT THE REPORTS: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2015 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit:  

The Uganda National Human Development Report is available at: 

Contact information

Tony Muhumuza, National Economist, Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDP Uganda. Tel: +256 417 112100 Ext. 146. Cellphone: 0772 289146. Email:

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