The eastern sub-regions of Busoga and Bukedi are the most impoverished in the country, a new report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) has found.
The report says more people in the east are plagued by absolute poverty. The report titled; Uganda National Household Survey 2016/2017, released on September 27, found that the number of poor people in rural areas has increased to 10 million.
“At national level in terms of numbers, we see that between 2013 and now, the number of poor persons is estimated to have increased from about 6.7 million to 10 million. And most of these are in rural areas,” James Muwonge, the director Social Economic Research at Ubos, said.
“What we see is that poverty is high in the eastern region now and specifically in Bukedi and Busoga. Maybe we need to investigate more what is happening in these two regions,” he said.
Government has invested huge sums of money in the past five years. Muwonge said the worsening situation of crop farmers has widened the poverty levels. He said among households headed by subsistence farmers, the percentage of the poor increased from 20.3 per cent to 32.2 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17.
“Poverty increased from 23 per cent to 36 per cent among those reporting crop subsistence as their main source of income,” Muwonge said.
According to Ubos, prolonged drought, sharp changes in prices, crop diseases, livestock diseases, storms, human epidemics are some of the push factors worsening the situation.
A recent report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers also found an increase in poverty in Uganda. It attributed the spike in poverty to disparities in access to social services such as education and health services.
Farmers were hit-hard last year as a result of changes in climate. This led to high cost of commodity prices as demand exceeded supply.
Paul Lakuma, a researcher with the Makerere University-based Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), reported in the latest Business Index covering January to March, that this year’s harvest remains in doubt and farmers are likely to count heavy losses.
The Ubos report also says more Ugandans in rural areas are still practicing subsistence farming. The fall armyworm, which has eaten away lots of farmers’ crops, has discouraged many from agriculture.
In terms of income inequality, the report found relative inequality in the central, northern, and western regions.