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Updated by Carla Alcobia on 24.02.2014

Uganda has had a successful record of poverty reduction since 1986. Poverty has steadily declined from 56 per cent (1992) to 24.5 per cent (2012). However, the Human Development Report of 2013 ranks the country as 161st out of 182 countries in human development, making it one of the poorest countries with a Human Development Index of 0.456. The level of vulnerability is also still high and access to social services remains a challenge in the country.

The government of Uganda is committed to social protection with the aim of addressing vulnerability. The social protection schemes of the country are embedded in a number of policy frameworks which include the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the National Development Plan (NDP 2010-15) that recognize the need for social protection and highlight social protection as one of the key strategies for the transformation of Uganda from a peasant society to a modern and prosperous country. The NDP emphasizes diversification and the provision of comprehensive social protection measures for the different categories of the population as a measure to reduce vulnerability and enhance productivity. Other policies that highlight social protection include: the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children Policy (2004), the National Policy on Disability (2006), the National Gender Policy (2007), the National Equal Opportunity Policy (2006) and the National Policy for Older Persons (2009). The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, in the context of the Expanding Social Protection Programme, is currently drafting the National Social Protection Policy Framework for Uganda (a draft policy is already in place).

Social protection in Uganda is organized in three layers that include non-contributory, compulsory and complementary social security. The government is implementing non-contributory transfers. These include the current piloting of a Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. The programme targets vulnerable households and senior citizens (60 years and older for Karamoja and 65 years and older for other districts). Currently, only 14 out of 112 districts of the country are being targeted under the SAGE programme. Other non-contributory schemes that are complementary in nature include the universal basic social services that are available to vulnerable household members, particularly the elderly, disabled, youths, women, orphans and vulnerable children. Other special programmes include the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programme launched in 2011, which targets the vulnerable children who make up 51 per cent of the entire population. The government of Uganda is also implementing universal health and education programmes for everyone, in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The government of Uganda has also put in place programmes to reduce unemployment, especially among the youth in the country. These include the recent Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) that will target all the youth in the country. The youth will be provided with funds to invest in income-generating activities. Other interventions include the Public Works Programme under the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) programme in Northern Uganda.

The social security schemes that are contributory and/or compulsory consist of social insurance for formal workers in the private sector known as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the Public Service Pension Schemes (PSPS) that target all public servants. Other schemes include the Parliamentary Pensions, Armed Forces Pensions, and voluntary private pension schemes such as Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS). These social insurance schemes cover less than 10 per cent of the working population. They provide old-age, disability, survivors’, invalidity, withdrawal and emigration benefits. The current social security schemes in Uganda exclude employees in the informal sector.

The government of Uganda is the main provider of health services which are administered by the Ministry of Health. There are also private health service providers, which include health insurance companies. All these are contributory and benefit mainly persons in formal employment. There are also community-based health insurance schemes that are member-based.   The Ministry of Health and other stakeholders are in the process of developing a National Health Insurance Scheme.