14 July 2017

Uganda: No One Should Be Left Behind in Provision of Social Services

opinion

The saying "no one is left behind", is significant if we could use it as a slogan in all our development initiatives the country. This should go hand-in-hand with the hype of agenda on development. What it suggests is that in every aspect of development these days, everybody should benefit from development initiatives that governments signed up long ago, to partake of and continue to sing the praises. So if that is the case, then sooner, then shall we soon see nice outcomes of such commitments.

From expressions, there is generally a "far-from-meaningful results" feeling. For now, a lot is being said but not enough is being done to match the promises. Many people are still being left behind in all development aspects that look great on paper.

For instance, let us take a look at healthcare service provision in the country. All forms of discrimination take place there. The most vulnerable of people are bearing the brunt of unfairness these days. Populations that are not supposed to be left behind as promised by development initiatives are staring at destitution.

Today, we see discrimination against vulnerable old people. Many vulnerable people are sidelined, sometimes on the basis of their gender. More still, others are marginalised because of their belonging to a certain ethnicity. There is also unfairness as a result of disability.

Then there is discrimination because of somebody's nationality, asylum or migration status, spiritual affiliation and a lot more. All these explain the wide-spectrum of marginalisation in service delivery these days. We know that discrimination can be a major impediment to service delivery generally. And thus, it affects the quality of life for, especially vulnerable people, who need the services. It also adds more fuel to the fire of exclusion that is happening in our society. You think there are things to be done to ensure that people live together without being subjected to such anti-societal behaviour. There is need to pay close attention to all these factors that make discrimination highly likely.

Look at the gender aggregation of services, and see how to deal with the potential things therein that can give rise to marginalisation. See the interaction of ethnic groupings and be able to deal with the discriminatory connotations that lie underneath. Education of people must be tailored towards ensuring that everybody (both giver and taker), knows and upholds their legal, professional and ethical duties. That everybody must be able to respect the rights of another. That everyone volunteers to defend the rights of the defenceless. There is need to focus on implementing of non-discriminatory policies and programmes to the diverse nature of societies. This should include strengthening supervision and monitoring of services implementation so that service opportunities extend to all the different groupings like the women, youth, persons from the rural communities, persons with disabilities, etc.

Empower the users of services so that they are aware and are able to demand for their rights. It will empower them to hold service providers accountable. We need to be able to get feedback on the services that we receive in order to make meaningful improvements and offer accountability that complies with the principle of non-discrimination in service provision.

In so doing, we will be guaranteeing access to effective services and ensuring complaints from service recipients are addressed. And making sure the things that make proper accountability impossible are tackled. We have to support sharing of the limited resources at our disposal.

In so doing, we seek participation of vulnerable communities in activities that improve their well-being. We can combat inequality and discrimination by setting the tone of discouraging marginalisation.

Mr Mone is a civil engineer.

Uganda

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