Corruption, youth & Uganda’s disaster preparedness

We have manmade disasters and then we have natural disasters. There are very many manmade disasters which are systemically obviously going to happen. People like to talk about the word corruption as a vague abstract term. Corruption is not vague, corruption is not abstract. For corruption to take place there has to be the person who is paying the bribe and the person who is soliciting that bribe. 

People like to say, those people are corrupt. They often pay attention to these small people who have received a bribe. But they are not looking at the person who solicited the bribe – like the one who said, let me bribe you. It is at that point that vital resources are diverted to do other things; and then you have an engineered manmade disaster.

This is not exclusive to only adults and corruption. It extends to youth as well. People like to discuss youth in abstract terms. Youth are individuals. Let me tell you, about ten days ago, I was invited by Parliament Watch to have a twitter session with them. And I was totally blown over. It was a complete myth buster.

These were young people. Everybody in the room was younger than me, but they were the most productive set of youth. They completely do not fit in that image of victims; of we have been neglected. They are very hardworking, intelligent young people and they are utilising just one room.

On that day they were debating budgets for Uganda for 2016. This is the kind of youth we have and they should be the majority. But instead when we discuss them in victim terms, we are basically systemically engineering a manmade disaster. Because then you have entitled people saying the government has to do everything for us – no, no, no.

Why hasn’t the private sector in Uganda invested in health care? Most health care systems in the world are not leveraged only by the public sector. The public sector can put a minimum investment, but what is our role as citizens of Uganda to ask, why is it that it is not attractive for health care service providers to come and provide services in Uganda?

And we must not negate also that Uganda’s health care system was thoroughly impacted by structural adjustment programmes.  The government in place at that time, and the NRM administration has been in place for over 30 years, must apologise to the people of Uganda – it should not have happened on your watch.

Nevertheless, the opposition, the civil society advocates, and every Ugandan, we are all guilty for allowing that machine to reach that point.


These are some of the views that I shared on Monday, 11th April 2016, during the discussion on the radio programme “Spectrum” on Radio One FM90. The discussion focused on the responsiveness of the Government of Uganda to national challenges. It highlighted the case of the crisis at the Uganda cancer institute and other health facilities. It explored how resources are allocated and if there is proper planning by the government of Uganda. The moderator, Bishop Edmond Kizito asked:

Is the government serious on planning to avoid avoidable emergencies? How well have we handled emergencies?  Such as: the breakdown of the only cancer treatment machine in the country; the growing water shortage in the North; we have other diseases – hepatitis B and others, we have refugees; we have food shortages – we have had them perennially in Karamoja; we have school rooms collapsing – some of them never built at all; and then the landslides in Bududa. How well have we planned as a nation to handle emergencies?

Radio One FM90 Spectrum Moderator

The guests were Mr. Robert Kirunda – Lecturer at the Faculty of Law Makerere University, also a pundit on social, human rights and political matters; Ms. Norah Owaraga: Managing Director at CPAR Uganda Ltd, founding member of Kigo Thinkers and also a cultural anthropologist; and Engineer Raymond Kamugisha Akankwasa who works at the office of the NRM chairman, also the President of Uganda, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

4 responses to “Corruption, youth & Uganda’s disaster preparedness”

  1. Norah, thanks. Case in point is a Cancer treatment machine in the headlines right now and then looking at Kenyan Hospitals as the solution to our (if I may blow your words) “CORRUPTION AND HUMAN ENGINEERED DISASTERS”.

    In Dec. 2014, after reading an article by Joachim Buwembo titled “How Nairobi and Kenyatta became Ugandan hospitals” ( ),
    I responded by writing one titled “Definition of a Failed State” –

    To which bro. Clet responded with the following remark ” Any way in principle I agree with all the issues you raise from top to bottom but as a person my opinion is make poor rich and then others will follow.”

    Just over a week ago, Monitor news paper published a story titled “Mulago cancer machine breaks down”, however, what I found disturbing was what Dr. Orem revealed, that the hospital administration had bought a new machine last year, however, it was kept in Vienna (the capital of Austria) because the hospital did not have a bunker where it is supposed to operate for safety reasons since it uses atomic energy.

    But even worse were the details to follow, such as a committee had issued red flags to the House in 2013, but were ignored, stating that there was no need of a new bunker. And now that only 400 out of the 17,000 cancer patients (i.e. only 2.35%), who need radiotherapy care, will be airlifted to Kenya for treatment.

    The photo of the poor Uganda’s lone radiotherapy machine held together with bandaids speaks volumes.

    Elizabeth Mugalu – Cancer patient, put it point blunt that, “The leadership has not understood what the local people go through. And this is brought about by the fact that they are not treated in Uganda.”

    Boy, talk of entitlement mentality! Can you imagine a government’s official vehicle getting such bandaids to hold it’s parts together!

    Now NRM wants GMO Agr. which increases use of herbicide Glyphosate that is carcinogenic in humans” –

    (GMO Agr. increases hunger – )

    May be in Clet’s opinion, we should make poor rich and then others will follow, but until then, let us not just blindly try to follow what we don’t understand and even if we did, can’t afford. A nation whose 40% national budget is from donors can’t compete with donors in giving away subsidies.

    But then again who cares about cancer machines when one has a state-of-the-art cancer institute! –


    • This is new learning for me – that: “But even worse were the details to follow, such as a committee had issued red flags to the House in 2013, but were ignored, stating that there was no need of a new bunker.” Now they hypocrisy of parliament stinks to high heaven, if this be the case.


  2. “why is it that it is not attractive for health care service providers to come and provide services in Uganda?” There are plenty of private healthcare providers who already provide care for the only people who can afford their services: rich individuals, expats and high-ranking government officials. That segment of the population is arguably overserved by private healthcare providers notwithstanding that the majority of the members of that social stratum can in any case obtain care abroad. The rest of the population is or poor or relatively so and do not therefore represent a viable consumer base on which private healthcare providers can rely to realise profits.


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