Researching the politics of development
Urban poverty in Uganda
What shapes state vision, commitment and capacity to reduce urban poverty in Ugandan towns and cities? A comparative study of Kampala and two secondary towns, with a particular focus on the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor (TSUPU) programme.
- To examine the outcomes achieved by government programming to reduce urban poverty in two secondary towns and the capital, Kampala;
- To explore the character and drivers of state vision, commitment and capacity for poverty reduction within informal settlements in these cities, with a particular focus on the effects of community organising;
- To consider the ways in which state vision, commitment and capacity shape the character of programming and the outcomes achieved;
- To examine the processes through which transnational actors shape state vision, capacity and commitment, as well as modalities of community organising.
The research focuses in particular on the ways in which the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda programme has unfolded in two secondary towns (Mbale and Kabale); and on poverty reduction interventions within two sample divisions of Kampala. Water and sanitation initiatives were selected in order to have a sectoral focus that would provide adequate analytical depth across each of our three sample urban areas.
The Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor programme (TSUPU) was an initiative undertaken by the government of Uganda to align urban development efforts at the national government, local government and community scales, and to include the urban poor in urban planning and decision-making processes. The programme had a transnational component – as it was financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed by the World Bank through Cities Alliance, which is a global partnership of bilateral and multilateral agencies financing urban development. There were specific roles and responsibilities for local government and civil society networks to support local action on the ground and it was explicitly designed to ‘develop into a national initiative through the systematic sharing of experiences and lessons with all local governments in Uganda’ (TSUPU Brochure 2010).
Recent developments in Kampala, including the formation of the Kampala Capital City Authority, are creating potential for more inclusive urban governance, yet at the same time, are indicative of re-centralisation and the closing down of space for informality in the city.
This study comprises three sets of research questions at project, comparative and conceptual levels. At the conceptual level, the research addresses each of ESID’s three core research questions. At the project level, the research asks:
a) In what ways has the TSUPU programme (and other urban development programming, in the case of Kampala) contributed to poverty reduction within informal settlements in the case study municipalities?
b) What is the character of state vision, commitment and capacity for urban poverty reduction within the case study municipalities and how has this shaped the outcomes achieved?
c) What has shaped the emergence and character of state vision, commitment and capacity for urban poverty reduction at central and local levels?
d) How are outcomes, and the character of state vision, capacity and commitment, differentiated across the three case study cities, and what are the underlying factors that explain such a differentiation, specifically with respect to community partnership and state involvement?
e) What can we learn from this about the most effective strategies for states to use to improve informal urban settlements and reduce urban poverty?
In comparative dialogue with the preceding India study, and subsequent to the research being completed, the research will move into an exploration of:
i) How does state vision, commitment and capacity to urban poverty reduction differ across the India and Uganda cases?
ii) How do the factors shaping state vision, commitment and capacity differ across these country cases?
iii) What can we learn from this comparison about the most effective strategies for states to use to improve informal urban settlements and reduce urban poverty?
Methods and research design
This research takes a bottom-up, process-tracing approach, beginning at the project level in each town or city, and moving up to focus on dynamics at divisional and municipal levels, with the effects of the national and transnational cutting across these stages of investigation, as well as comprising their own discrete focus of investigation. This project adopts a co-produced, qualitative research strategy. It has been planned and is being carried out in partnership with the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and their support NGO, ACTogether Uganda. The principle methods for data generation include: documentary and literature review from the local project to national policy levels; semi-structured interviews with programme beneficiaries and other residents of informal settlements, as well as government officials and politicians, and civil society agencies and actors including academia; with focus groups and observational methods also utilised at local levels.
How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?
The project addresses all three of ESID’s core research questions.
This research is being co-produced by multiple partners, including members of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and staff of their support NGO, ACTogether Uganda. However, the lead coordinators of the research are listed below:
|Lead Researcher||Diana Mitlin||University of Manchester, UK|
|Research Associate||Peter Kasaija||Independent consultant/Makerere University, Uganda|
|Research Associate||Sophie King||University of Sheffield, UK|
Sophie King and Sam Hickey (2017). ‘Building democracy from below: Lessons from Western Uganda‘. The Journal of Development Studies 53(10): 1584-1599.
Sophie King and Peter Kasaija (2018). ‘State-movement partnership in Uganda: Co-producing an enabling environment for urban poverty reduction?’ ESID Working Paper 98.
Mitlin, D. (2017). ‘ESID academics coproducing knowledge with informal settlement residents‘. ESID blog, 12 January.
ESID Briefing No. 26. ‘Promoting urban poverty reduction in Uganda: Lessons for Slum-Dweller Federations‘.
ESID Briefing No. 25. ‘Promoting urban poverty reduction in Uganda: Lessons from TSUPU municipalities‘.
ESID Briefing No. 24. ‘Promoting urban poverty reduction: Lessons from Uganda‘.