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Govt not meeting bare minimum standards required in service delivery

Man fetching dirty water

Man fetching dirty water

For decades, the chronic underfunding of quality public services in Uganda has created a service gap due to government’s inability to meet even the bare minimum standards required for effective public service delivery.

Yet public service is the pillar that sustains life and promotes human dignity. Sectors as vital as healthcare and education should be prioritized. Unfortunately, the present realities demonstrate the state’s omission to fulfill its primary obligation as mandated by national, regional and international human rights instruments.

This reality has its genesis when developing countries, including Uganda, adopted the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s structural adjustment programs that required countries to implement economic reforms such as privatization and market liberalization
to reduce government spending towards social sectors like healthcare, education, and social protection. This left the poor unable to afford privatized education and healthcare. Uganda is now grappling with socio-economic turmoil.

There must be a change in policy direction. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the dangers of privatizing public services and government’s failure to steward and regulate provision of health and education. We witnessed a medical oxygen crisis with no oxygen in government health facilities and the private health facilities charging exorbitant amounts, detaining people and dead bodies if one failed to pay. Many died.

We realized that many people were a medical bill away from poverty. Our government did not seem to help, not even to regulate the profiteers who prioritized profit over life!

This song is not any different in the education sector. Despite Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE), children are still dropping out of school because of fees. The low amounts provided in capitation grants that go to public schools (a paltry Shs 20,000 per child per year in UPE below government’s estimates of the cost) and the grant’s delayed release means parents have to pay.

The failure of government to regulate private schools has made the cost of education high as private schools arbitrarily raise fees. Despite the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) bringing a court case on this and government promising to take action, we are yet to see the statutory instrument regulating schools.

General Comment No.7 State Obligations under The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the context of Private Provision of Social Services tasks states to regulate private actors providing social services and to also provide public social services. Our health and education cannot be left to the mood swings of the market.

Young people must wake up and demand our government to prioritize public services. We are the future, after all. What kind of workforce will this country have if its young people are uneducated and sick? The government is obligated under law and by the fact that we pay taxes to provide accessible and quality public services to us.

It takes debt in our name. The minimum we expect is to find drugs and health workers in our hospitals and for us to be able to go to school regardless of our parents’ ability to pay. Government must regulate private actors providing these services.

As noted in the People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Public Social Services in Uganda, a movement coordinated by ISER, government must “revamp public social services as the foundation for addressing the inequalities and ensuring an inclusive and sustainable socio- economic recovery.”

If any tangible results are to be realized in the journey ahead, utmost good faith, brutal honesty, and foresight to put national interests over that which benefits a few is necessary.

The writer is a law student at Makerere University


0 #1 Akot 2023-09-17 15:42
Uganda isnt a country so has no government as it's Musveni's family business & the tribally divided ruled ensure it remains so!

Why will Museveni serve his slaves?
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