Accessing Five Years of Danida HUGGO support to democracy, human rights, justice and peace building in Uganda
“Corruption deprives the poor of their basic rights and makes them even poorer, while the rich get richer. That is why it is so important to fight corruption,” says Angela Byangwa of the Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition. Such is the firm stand Angela takes showing the work her organisation has been able to do with support from Danida HUGGO programme to democracy, human rights, justice and peace building in Uganda.
Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition is not alone; several other institutions capacities have been built with this support to reach the underprivileged in Uganda.
“Just seven or eight years ago people could rightly claim that NGOs in Uganda, including the Uganda National NGO Forum, were too concentrated in and focused on Kampala, but not anymore,” says Alfred Nuamanya, team leader of the National District Network Support Programme (NDNSP) hosted by UNNGOF. While Alfred Nuamanya now describes NDNSP as a success story, the success was not obvious from the start.
“This was risky business when we started in 2006 and no one could be sure that we would actually be able to make it as far as we have come. It took a partner like Danida HUGGO that was willing to run the risk of granting non-earmarked funding and investing long-term because they believed in the idea.” This – according to Nuamanya – is in stark contrast to many other donors who tend to be extremely focused on short-term results.
“Many donors should rethink the way they fund NGOs. Rather than looking for quick results and more or less dictating what activities NGOs can be funded to implement, they should respect the autonomy of the NGOs and help them build their capacities. Otherwise the NGOs will collapse when the funding for the activities dries up and they will be perceived as donor-driven.” says Nuamanya
Danida HUGGO was set up in 2006 to provide funding for Ugandan government line ministries and institutions, local, national civil society organizations, and a few international organizations working in the field of good governance for development. As in all other development programmes, implemented activities have been reviewed, assessed and evaluated on an annual basis, and activity progress reports have been produced for internal audiences. The reports have also been used to inform programme planning and focus.
A 60 page Governance for Development publication highlighting some of the partners supported and the activities they have implemented in a way that will hopefully reach a wider audience has been published. The articles are a clear testimony that with modest funding and technical support, it was possible for Ugandans to contribute to promoting good governance as a tool for development.
“Most donors give us project support, which gives us a headache because it is earmarked and often short-term. With Danida we have had a framework agreement since 2002. That means predictable funding and support for core activities that build our capacity. We have a strong and very stable relationship with Danida HUGGO. Even when they change staff, their strategy and decisions don’t change. They do not depend on individuals and they don’t breathe down your neck. They have confidence in us, but they do monitor us and they make sure that there is a smooth transistion from one phase of funding to the next, which is – unfortunately – not common with donors,” Human Rights Focus (HURIFO) Gulu; executive director;. James Otto says.
“Danida HUGGO has championed very innovative ways and programmes to support and finance civil society. They have shown great flexibility and thus been able to meet the wide variety of demands.” This very positive assessment was made by Godber W. Tumushabe, executive director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE). He is just one of many NGO activists in Uganda who talk about a special Danida HUGGO approach.
The Danida Human Rights and Good Governance Office (HUGGO) is a unique construction based on a very special Ugandan-Danish partnership built up over decades. Now that Danida HUGGO is winding up or at least transforming into another facility supported by other donors, the time has come to look back at what fostered this partnership, how it developed over time, and what will happen to it when Danida steps back from its dominant position and becomes one of the partners in a joint set-up for supporting democratic governance efforts in Uganda, the new ‘Democratic Governance Facility’ (DGF).
“We did not want to adopt the usual reporting format, but we wished instead to allow implementing partners and programme beneficiaries to speak for themselves. This publication does not claim to tell the full story, nor does it paint a rosy and only positive picture of the activities implemented; it does not boast of Danida HUGGO achievements nor does it claim that results were reached exclusively due to Danida HUGGO support. The intention is to present some of the personalities and organizations Danida HUGGO has been privileged to work with, to highlight sample tangible achievements and challenges, and even more importantly to share learning experiences from implementing good governance programmes.” Says the former Head of Programmes Danida HUGGO; Niels Hjortdal.
“When you look at the overall picture, Uganda has come a long way in the past 25 years: There is peace, stable economic growth, and poverty has been reduced. Uganda has huge potential. Still, Considerable challenges remain and they are acknowledged by Government as can be seen in the National Development Plan. Democracy is still young in Uganda and here too there are many challenges. For example, multiparty democracy which was reintroduced in 2006 is a new experience for many Ugandans and they have to adapt to a more pluralistic political culture with competition between different parties. Cultivating a distinct division of power between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government is also challenging. But Ugandans have embraced democracy and demand more of it, recent surveys suggest, and this is very positive. It is the best indicator for a promising future for Uganda.” says Danish Ambassador to Uganda since 2008, Nathalia Feinberg
All in all, a lot still lies ahead for a clear transformation of Uganda’s governance and democracy as Prof. J.B Kwesiga puts it, “So, there is still a long way to go!”
The full Governance for Development publication can be downloaded here