Welcome and thank you for joining us today for the launch of The World Bank’s report “Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity” here in Uganda.
“Inclusion Matters” is a global report but its messages have direct applicability to and relevance for Uganda today. So I am proud that this event here in Kampala is the first launch of the report in Africa and, in fact, the first in a World Bank client country.
Let me start by introducing the World Bank team. I have great pleasure in welcoming our Country Director, Philippe Dongier to this event. We also have here Maitreyi Das, the lead author of the report who will provide first-hand insights from the report and set the stage for the panel discussion. In addition, Juan Carlos Parra, Lisa Schmidt and Johanna Suurpaa, members of the core team for the report are also present. I would lilke to record my appreciation for the Uganda team - Sheila Byiringiro Gashishiri, Annette Nabisere Byansansa, Constance Nekessa-Ouma, Damalie Evalyne Nyanja and Clarence Tsimpo Nkengne, who have coordinated this event.
Social inclusion is high up on the global policy agenda. It is a central tenet of the World Bank Group's new strategy with its twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. It is also intrinsic to the post-MDG discussions.
The rising attention to issues of social inclusion is based on the realization that while great strides have been made in reducing extreme poverty, in country after country, entire groups remain excluded from development gains. A rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. In Uganda, poverty headcount declined from over 56 percent in 1992/93 to 22 percent on 2012/13. This is an impressive achievement. But income inequality rose as well. In the same period the Gini coefficient increased from .37 to .43. These issues are also highlighted in our joint work with the Government of Uganda, in the Inclusive Growth report.
Uganda is well aware of the fact that social inclusion matters for itself. But it also matters because there are significant benefits to addressing it - benefits in social, political and economic terms. It has made substantial progress in education. Growth rates are well above the Sub-Saharan average. Uganda’s national vision for 2040 is to become a middle income country. But expectations from a middle income country are higher than those from low income ones. In particular, middle income countries are expected to address issues of social inclusion in ways that go beyond poverty reduction. They are expected to attend to the needs of those most at risk of being left out.
Social inclusion is becoming more and more urgent for Uganda. Profound transitions like the changing population structure, urbanization, climate change, information revolution and natural resource driven growth are creating new opportunities but also risks for inclusion. Uganda’s youth bulge, for instance, will become a key policy issue just as the country moves into middle income status.
“Inclusion Matters” gives us an easy to use definition and a framework to understand social inclusion. It adds to the poverty reduction agenda by bringing in issues of perceptions, of dignity, respect and recognition. It uses examples from a broad range of contexts to tell us how exclusion happens and how inclusion can be enhanced. It shows that social inclusion often does not require to do more, but to do things differently.
This report therefore comes at a very timely moment for Uganda. It reinforces the message that inclusion can be planned and achieved. It sets out to help policy makers address these issues. Already in Uganda, the Second Northern Uganda Social Action Fund Project (NUSAF 2) embodies principles of social inclusion by empowering communities to improve their lives. Programming to expand access to improved health and education services is an important part of the World Bank’s engagement in Uganda.
We are privileged to welcome a distinguished panel of local experts here today to discuss the report and the most pressing issues and opportunities for social inclusion in Uganda. The panel will be moderated by Mr. Chris Mugga-Nsubuga.
I will now request the Hon. Tarsis Kabwegyere, Minister of General Duties, OPM, to make some opening remarks and start off the discussion.