New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: New Study Names Poorest Locals

Kampala — BUSOGA region, Mbale and Pallisa districts have the highest concentration of poor people, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics said in a report yesterday.

It said more than 100 poor people live per square kilometre in the areas.

In the districts of Iganga, Mayuge, Bugiri, Busia, Mbale and Pallisa, the poverty density per sub-county is more than 100 people, compared to Kibaale, Ssembabule, Mbarara and Kiboga which have less than 20.

The gap between the rich and the poor is highest in central and lowest in northern Uganda, it added.

Poverty density is the number of poor people (those living on less than a dollar a day) per square kilometre in a sub-county.

In the eastern region, the lowest poverty rate of between 27% and 30% was found in Busulani (Sironko), Sigulu Islands (Bugiri), Bumayoka (Mbale), Lumino and Buhehe (Busia), Bukigai (Mbale) and Muyembe (Sironko).

Pockets of high poverty density were, however, seen in Bubulo, Manjiya, Sironko, Kotido, Kisoro and parts of West Nile.

"The poverty gap was consistently low in sub-counties that have low poverty levels and vice-versa," the report stated.

Unlike the central region, poverty rates in the east range from 27% to 62%. The highest rates are in Apopong (62%), Puti Puti (54%) and Kateta sub-county (Soroti), 53%. The poorest subcounty in central Uganda is Kyankwanzi (38%) in Kiboga district.

Between 2002 and 2006, Bumbo, Bumwoni and Bupoto sub-counties in Mbale district (now part of Manafwa district) did not see a reduction in poverty.

The report, called The Spatial Trends of Poverty and inequality in Uganda: 2002-2005, was launched yesterday by investments state minister Prof. Semakula-Kiwanuka at the Statistics House in Kampala.

The data for the study was drawn from the 2005/2006 Uganda National Household Survey, and the 2002 Population and Housing Census. It sampled about 7,426 households in 874 rural sub-counties in 58 districts.

According to the report, poverty declined from 39% in 2002 to 31% in 2005, mainly in central and western Uganda, but remained particularly severe in the pastoral areas.

"Unfortunately," says the report, "these areas have continued to show little or no progress in terms of poverty reduction over the past 15 years."

In western Uganda, Kisoro, Kanungu and Masindi districts recorded dire poverty, with Bufumbira sub-county in Kisoro topping the list. Areas bordering Masindi and Kanungu followed closely.

Overall, more people in northern Uganda live below the poverty line (64.8%) followed by eastern region at 38.4%. Central Uganda has 19.6%, while western has 19.3% poor people.

In the central region, Kayunga, Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Sembabule, Kiboga and Rakai districts were hardest-hit with 40% of the people poor.

The poorest sub-counties here were Butemba, Ngoma, Wabinyonyi, Dwaniro, Lwamata, Butoloogo, Lwabyata, Kyankwanzi and Kalongo, with poverty rates above 35%, the report noted.

Bujjumba and Ssisa in Wakiso and Mukono districts had the lowest poverty rate of less than 10%.

The study also found a link between poverty and the incidence of dysentery and malaria. The more rampant the diseases are, the poorer the region is.

Dysentery normally results from lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation.

Accordingly, Moyo and Adjumani districts, located in the drier parts of Uganda where access to clean water is a problem, had the highest number of dysentery cases.

On education, the report found that the wealthier central and western regions had lower pupil-teacher ratios while they were higher in the north and eastern regions.

Semakula Kiwanuka said the study would help policy makers to monitor how resources are used for poverty reduction.

Parliament, the minister added, had got another tool for informed assessment of government programmes to eradicate poverty.

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