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Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

Uganda democracy
Youth groups come together to make their voices heard
International Republican Institute


Uganda has an opportunity to create a more accountable and responsive government and an electoral system capable of enabling a growing number of citizens to participate peacefully in politics. A more accountable and responsive government will increase citizen commitment to democratic governance, and reduce tensions among political, regional and ethnic groups.

USAID has aimed to strengthen the separation of powers, fight corruption and encourage more effective and participatory governance through a variety of activities with national and local governments, the Electoral Commission, civil society, political parties and unrepresented groups. 

USAID also works with civil society to broaden citizen participation and strengthen grassroots organizations, enabling them to effectively promote reforms at both the national and local level, including advocacy on issues surrounding gender equity, human rights and corruption. USAID is committed to supporting free and fair elections; strengthening national and local governments, as well as civil society; and building the capacity of institutions and systems to combat corruption. 

Governance and Rule of Law

Uganda’s lack of transparency and accountability of financial resources, weak institutional government, and civil society capacity pose significant challenges to good governance. USAID works to build the capacity of Uganda’s multi-party Parliament and local governments, strengthening their ability to provide public services and respond to citizen needs. USAID activities have enabled Parliament members to interact directly with local government and civil society leaders on critical legal and policy issues.

USAID’s programs also help local governments carry out community initiatives by fostering participatory development planning and improving the operations of multiparty local councils. As a result, citizens are participating more actively in local government planning and budgeting processes, leading to more open and transparent approval and execution of district budgets. USAID training has helped local governments assess their progress and identify development priorities in line with those at the national level. 

Civil Society

Uganda’s multi-party Parliament and local governments provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the formulation of policies and laws, and development and implementation of activities. However, both governmental and nongovernmental actors often lack the knowledge, experience and resources to participate effectively and improve laws, policies and service delivery. 

USAID activities enhance the capacity of Uganda’s civil society organizations to more effectively inform citizens of issues that touch their daily lives, gather information from citizens on the quality of service delivery, and advocate for changes that will lead to more effective functioning of government and improved service delivery. With USAID support, these organizations made key contributions to national and local government institutions; provided crucial input to policies and bills; and facilitated activities that improved parliamentary oversight, local planning and budgeting processes, and the delivery of public services. For example, in the northern town of Arua, civil society advocacy made a new food security and nutrition ordinance official.


Uganda’s February 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections marked an improvement over its 2006 elections, but a number of irregularities highlight the need for continued efforts to ensure credible and transparent future elections and create a more open political space. 

For the 2011 elections, USAID helped Uganda’s electoral commission make the voter registry more transparent and accessible by posting the entire registry online. USAID also assisted the commission in establishing text message stations to help voters confirm registration information and locate their correct polling station. USAID also supported a women’s democracy fair, debates, and mentoring for aspiring women leaders, as well as campaign training for women and youth. 

Last updated: November 20, 2015

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