Uganda joined the rest of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to sign and ratify the Istanbul Programme of Action 2011-2020 which was adopted by the Fourth United Nations (UN) Conference held in May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.  The overall goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) is to ‘overcome the structural challenges faced by LDCs in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable eventual graduation from the LDC country category by 2020.

The IPoA identifies eight interlinked priority areas that LDCs are to focus on as follows; 

  1. Productive capacity
  2. Agriculture, food security and rural development
  3. Trade
  4. Commodities
  5. Human and social development
  6. Multiple crises and other emerging challenges
  7. Mobilising financial resources for development and capacity-building
  8. Good governance at all levels.


Under this framework, the identification of LDCs is based on three criteria as below;

  1. Income Criterion (IC), based on a three year average estimate of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita for the period 2011-2013 using the World Bank Atlas method (under $1,035 for inclusion, above $1,242 for graduation based on where countries are by the 2015 triennial review. 
  2. Human Assets Index (HAI), based on indicators of: (a) nutrition: percentage of population undernourished; (b) health: mortality rate for children aged five years or under; (c) education: the gross secondary school enrolment ratio; and (d) adult literacy rate. 
  3. Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), based on indicators of: (a) population size; (b) remoteness; (c) merchandise export concentration; (d) share of agriculture, forestry and fisheries; (e) share of population in low elevated coastal zones; (f) instability of exports; (g) victims of natural disasters; and (h) instability of agricultural production.

To become eligible for graduation, a country must reach threshold levels for graduation for atleast two of the aforementioned three criteria, or its GNI per capita must exceed at least twice the threshold level ($2,484 in the 20145 triennial review), and the likelihood that the level of GNI per capita is sustainable must be deemed high.

Ahead of IPOA’s deadline in 2020, the average GDP growth for these countries remains low at 3.8 per cent in 2015, the lowest rate in the past two decades and well below the 7 per cent target set by the IPoA and Sustainable Goal eight. However, despite the significant challenges,

 IPOA highlights progress in a few key areas such as transport, and on access to electricity which rose from 32.3 per cent of the population in 2010 to 38.3 per cent in 2014. In addition, as of June 2017, Equatorial Guinea graduated from the group, bringing the number of LDCs to 47. Nine LDCs reached the graduation thresholds in 2015, while several others aspire to graduate by 2020 or shortly thereafter.

Uganda is still classified as an LDC. However a number of strategies are being implemented to enable the country graduate to middle income status as highlighted in the Uganda case study report in progress towards meeting the IPOA thresholds.

Uganda participated in the High Level Conference for LDCs in November 2019, where it presented progress achieved over implementation of the IPoA decade.