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Atuki Turner’s views on reform
– by Atuki Turner
Internationally, poverty has only been successfully fought where the private sector has thrived. How can and should a donor agency best support your country in this respect?
Traditionally donor agencies have invested in the "poorest of the poor". This group is not able to take off and create/provide employment compared to those who are better off. Investment needs to be made in these middle class entrepreneurs such as the successful village farmer because she/he can realise profits and reach the "take off" stage. More recent government programmes such as the Uganda Government NAADs programme seemed to have recognised this since they allocate new live stock (goats, poultry, exotic cows, etc) to those more able to utilise them successfully.
Donor agencies also need to work with the private sector to make statements, such as building model girls schools or technical colleges that will provide training to women of all ages in skills that are in demand such as designing, flower gardening, modern tailoring, hair dressing, etc. A model girls school or radio station run profitably by women makes more of a statement than years of sensitisation.
Additionally the private sector like all other initiatives is made successful by visionaries. The best way therefore to support the private sector is through direct support to individuals engaged in this sector. Government does not have a good understanding of how the private sector should function. It is entrepreneurs who understand it realistically.
The Millennium Development Goals stress progress in specific sectors. How can and should a donor agency for technical cooperation best support your country in this respect?
I would put money where it is likely to have best value for money. NGOs that are working well in certain sectors should be supported. Again this means showcasing and making statements because what Uganda needs most is a change in attitude in order to understand that poverty alleviation is not going to get rid of all our problems. I am one of three Torch Champions in for MDG3 on gender and equality and I would say donors would do well to support fundamental causes of inequality between men and women in Uganda arising from what are known as Preventive Cultures, such as bride price, polygamy, inheritance and succession laws that basically prevent women from enjoying their human rights as well as leading to violence against women. Secondly I would put my money on improving maternal health as the current standards are appalling and the deaths are due to lack of facilities for carrying out ceaserian sections in emergencies or lack of medical officers at rural health centres.
Supporting private health service and making health insurance available to the poor to access such services may be radical but innovative.
Important to note in this respect is the fact that any solutions proposed must be sustainable. This is not the case with the so called Millenium Villages, where millions of dollars are being spent in a non-sustainable manner.
The Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action stress the relevance of enhancing government capacities. How can and should a donor agency best support your country in this respect?
The donor group in Uganda through its basket fund has done a lot to support law enforcement agencies (Police, Courts, Prisons) through it Justice Law and Order Sector (JLSO) programme. The support has focussed on capacity building. It is now time to redirect that support to services provision so that police and law enforcement agencies (LCS and other duty bearers) can effectively respond to women reporting crime. Currently NGOs heavily subsidise law enforcement and must pay for fuel (petrol), mobile phones and air time, transport and officers costs for effecting arrests. This makes justice innaccessible and allows perpetrators to get away with impunity. Police need to be trained in evidence gathering, forensics, interviewing skills and how best to intervene without "victimising the victim."
Good and responsible governance have figured high on the development agenda ever since the World Bank's World Development Report of 1997. How can and should a donor agency best support your country in this respect?
Support in terms of training and resources should be made available to NGOs to run programmes using a human rights approach that hold government more accountable. Currently NGOs are more welfare based and heavily subsidise governement. I did my MA thesis on Structural Adjustment policies of the World Bank in 1996 and noted at that time that social sector services suffered under SAPS, sadly the case is still true today. For instance HIV, a serious health problem has only 5% of the government budget. Donor funding should tie government down to budgetary allocation. For instance domestic violence services should be available to everywoman in Uganda via district advice centres. (Currently such direct services exist only in Tororo district run by MIFUMI). Such services could be determined through central budgetary allocations. Donors can do much to direct funding to areas where they are needed. Uganda has had no laws spefically protecting women for over 25 years since the current government came into power.
Donors could fund a Commission on the Status of Women or some other body (Equal Opportunities Commission) to audit government performance on gender issues.
The third sector / NGO sector should be put through the same stringent controls that the private sector is subjected to.
In regard to the past, what are strong points of GTZ, InWEnt and DED that you would want to last?
GTZ could maintain their flexible yet guided funding. The staff at GTZ in Germany are very good and this is to be commended. They maintain strong dedicated relationships with their grantees.