Rural Development refers to the comprehensive societal change that involves transformation in agriculture (mechanization and commercialization) and diversification of the rural economy coupled with substantive improvements in access to social and economic services and infrastructures in rural areas.
Government’s rural development agenda has largely focused on decentralizing of governance structures, administrative and service delivery units order to improve access to services in the rural areas and to transform the rural economy. Government envisages transformed rural areas with improved rural economies generating positive employment and income effects thus reducing poverty, vulnerability and improving food security.
Uganda’s rural development is guided by a combination of policy, strategic and legal frameworks, some at the national level, district and others in the respective local lower governments. The legal and regulatory framework for rural development is hinged on the Local Government Act 1997 and Decentralization Policy 1997. The Local Government Act 1997 provided for establishment of the respective local governments and the administration of the same. Other policies include the Uganda National Local Economic Development (LED) Policy which provides a collaborative framework for partners in local development to promote economic opportunities, eradicate poverty and ensure inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at locality level. This is supported by district development plans and strategies. The Ministry of Local Government, District Local Government and other lower Local Governments are responsible for the formulation of strategies, laws and regulations pertaining to rural development. The implementation of the same is majorly by the District Local Government and other lower Local Governments whereas policy formulation is a preserve of the Ministry of Local Government
To achieve its rural development objectives, Government adopted a multi-sectoral approach to rural development. The main flagship programmes to this end include: Rural Electrification programme, Universal Primary Education (UPE), Universal Secondary Education (USE), Primary Health Care (PHC), Agro-Industrialization, Community Agriculture Infrastructure Improvement Programme (CAIIP), Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project (MATIP) and Project for the Restoration of Livelihoods in the Northern Region among others.
Uganda is still an overwhelmingly rural population but is urbanizing rapidly, now 18% and likely to be 40% by 2040. Whereas rural development is an imperative for Uganda’s development, many demographic and development outcomes have a significant rural–urban divide with 25 percent of the rural population being poor compared to about 10 percent of their urban counterparts. This may be due to unequal access to resources and services, leading to inequality of opportunities and declining contribution of agriculture to GDP despite employing over 75 percent of rural population thus relatively more investments in agriculture would foster considerable rural growth.
- More than 75 percent of the Ugandan population resided in rural areas in 2019, with majority of them earning a living from farming.
- In 2019, 92% of all parishes and 71% of all sub-countries have a government aided primary school.
- The percentage of the working population residing in rural areas declined from 77 percent in FY2012/13 to 76 percent in FY 2016/17.