Reaping the peace dividends

A new report by International Alert has revealed a growing confidence in sustained peace and security in northern Uganda, following the end of the 21-year conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and Ugandan government forces, which ended in 2008.

The report, entitled Monitoring the impact of the PRDP on peace and conflict in northern Uganda, uses data collected from 2011-2014 and looks at nine regions: Acholi, Bukedi, Bunyoro, Elgon, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile. A total of 21 districts were studied, including those severely affected, partially affected (‘spill-over’ districts) and non-directly affected (‘control’ districts) by the conflict. A total of 4,233 respondents were interviewed.

The study shows that, over time, the percentage of respondents who felt safe in their communities increased in all districts surveyed. Respondents also reported confidence in sustained peace and security in every district, with the highest average annual increase in perceptions (9 percentage points) witnessed in the districts most severely affected by the conflict, followed by the control districts (8.5 percentage points) and then the spill-over districts (5.5 percentage points).

Personal involvement in conflicts also fell in all the districts. The severely affected districts had the highest average annual decline over the three-year period (6.5 percentage points per year), followed by the control districts (4.5 percentage points) and then the spill-over districts (2 percentage points).

Access to justice at the community level increased in every district, with the control districts having the highest average annual increase, followed by the severely affected districts. By 2014, four years into the project, the percentage of respondents who reported better access to justice in their communities ranged between 75.6% and 79.6%. Furthermore, the percentage of victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) decreased in all districts. The control districts had the highest average annual decline of 27 percentage points, followed by 11.5 percentage points each in the severely affected and spill-over districts. There has also been a general upward trend since 2012 in the reported satisfaction of SGBV victims in the resolution of their cases by dispute-resolution mechanisms.

Since 2012, the percentage of respondents not attending local government planning activities has increased. Overall, the percentage of respondents who said that the local government was responsive to community needs stagnated between 2012 and 2014, dropping from 48 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2013.

The percentage of respondents with sufficient income to sustain their households remained largely the same in most of the districts surveyed. Yet, the results also showed that the percentage of respondents with employable skills declined. In the control districts, for example, there was an average annual decline of 2 percentage points, compared to 1 percentage point in the severely affected districts and 3.5 percentage points in the spill-over districts.

Based on these findings, the report suggests a number of recommendations for the local and national governments in Uganda, including:

  • investing in research on land conflicts in order to make progressive and informed decisions to curb them;
  • better equipping the police in terms of mobility and accommodation, particularly in post-war northern Uganda, so that police presence in the community continues to be felt on a sustained basis;
  • giving greater thought to the manner in which vocational training is managed in the country, as there is a mismatch between what the institutions are producing and what communities need; vocational training should be market-driven;
  • balancing appointments in ministries, the army, the police and other departments, to ensure equal representation between the south and north of Uganda, as one practical demonstration of bridging the gap between the two parts of the country;
  • publicising the criteria used to allocate funds for government programmes, to avoid unnecessary speculation from beneficiaries; and
  • revising guidelines for conditional grants, to allow for flexibility in addressing the needs of local communities, and involving local community leaders as the direct beneficiaries of these programmes.

This is the final report in a series of studies of peace and conflict in northern Uganda, which is part of a five-year post-conflict development project funded by the UK Department for International Development. The research was carried out under the over-arching framework of the Ugandan government’s Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).

To read our findings and recommendations in full, read the report here. You can find out more about this project here.