The Uganda ‘Success Story’
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As the capital of one of Africa’s ‘fastest growing economies’, Kampala appears booming and vibrant. Many of the roads are in good repair, old buildings have been painted and windows replaced, and new construction is evident. New stores, restaurants, boutiques, and nightclubs have been opened, and hotels, many renovated, are doing a steady business. A growing population of expatriates is visible, reflecting the stability that has allowed for the growth of international business and foreign development assistance. The stock exchange is located in a busy downtown office building. Other signs of progress are the European bakery, the home-made pasta shop, the mini-market that sells imported food from Europe – a big change compared to a decade and a half before, when Kampala was quiet, the buildings derelict, the streets pot-holed, and there was little evidence of commerce or an international presence. But on closer observation, Kampala still shows some signs of ‘underdevelopment’. Sprawling neighbourhoods of small houses built of clay and corrugated iron continue to house many of Kampala’s ‘middle class’. The 2003 UN Development Report places 82.2 per cent of the Ugandan population below the income poverty line of $1 a day, and 48 per cent have no access to an improved water source.1 Access to adequate health facilities is still out of reach for 50 per cent of the population.Life is certainly better for many people than it was in the days of Amin and Obote, but the wealth stemming from Uganda’s ‘successful’ economic liberalization has not quite yet ‘trickled down’. And zones of conflict remain in the north and southwest of the country, where much of the population continue to live in terror. In this light, AIDSis just one of a number of problems shaping the politics of daily life in Uganda, deepening for many of its citizens’ already existing poverty and human insecurity.