The poverty–grievance nexus: learning from the experiences of the poor in Soroti District
MetadataShow full item record
The study set out to investigate the reason for perpetual poverty in Soroti District. The regime change that was ushered in Uganda in 1986 came with substantial hope for economic and political stability to revamp the economy from the collapse of the seventies and early eighties. Some of these reforms included the Economic Recovery Program (ERP), Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), and currently Prosperity for all. Yet it is imperative to note that, despite all these policies, poverty is still pervasive in Soroti. Additionally, the researcher learnt that the people of Soroti district hold general sentiments of outright dejection, suspicion, cynicism, and grievances towards the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government. Some of the popular discontentments arise from the continuous cattle rustling, worsening economic inequality, as well as rebel insurgencies and incursions. These influenced the researcher’s hypothesis that grievances inoculate negative attitudes in the people towards the government, which has led them to resignation to their vicarious suffering, consequently exacerbating the poverty levels in the region. The study employed a case study design with a total of 103 respondents. Random sampling was used to select respondents for the focus group discussions while systematic sampling for the technical persons and key informants through utilizing in-depth interview guides. For the key informant category, elders were specially selected to give a historical overview of life in Teso. These aided the researcher in discovering the reason for the disgruntlement among the people. Intense documentary analysis and observation was also done. The findings reveal that most of the popular discontentments in place are objective. These grievances are a sign that latent conflict exists, which serves as an early warning to the likelihood of escalation into violence if the state fails to address group demands over time. These grievances have also affected people’s attitude towards the government, a situation opposition politicians have exploited in manipulating them to sabotage and/or boycott government programs, which could have been of aid in resuscitating development. The study further found that due to this resigned attitude, people feel like aliens in their own country creating the North-South divide that has emanated in today’s politics as revealed by the massive block vote of rejecting the NRM. The study recommends that the Government enacts area development programs advocated by the poor themselves. It further recommends that measures should be put in place to reduce the discontent. Of particular note is, the call for national reconciliation, sustainable peace and unity, so that a resurgence of the people to develop is sparked. Another is reorientation of development assistance towards reducing horizontal inequality, for instance, through increasing incomes and improving human and financial capital. The study concludes with the view that different types of poverty demand different antipoverty responses. For Teso, inclusion of the people into the nation and security will play an important role in shaping their attitude and perception of the government in power, ultimately influencing the community to actively work harder to better their own lives.