Aid robbed in Uganda: what can be done?

Filed under - Poverty and development

Posted 23 November 2012
lead image

Recent Ugandan headlines of corruption are ubiquitous: leading donor agencies such as the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Irish government are suspending aid to Uganda following highly publicised corruption scandals.

In August external auditors from the Office of the Auditor General revealed that approximately €12 million in aid from Scandinavian countries and Ireland were allegedly funnelled to the private bank accounts of officials from the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office. As the fraud investigation wore on, Ireland, Denmark and Norway suspended aid to Uganda. The Ugandan government has pledged to return the money.

In light of the scandal, DFID has indefinitely suspended the remaining £11.1 million (US$17.6 million) allocated this year to further Ugandan development.

The poor lose the most

The decision to pull funding is not surprising, but the impact on the poor can be devastating. As the Ugandan government re-evaluates its budget following the halt in aid, programmes and services tailored to benefit the public – especially the poor – will suffer cuts that undermine development.

“We strongly believe there [are] enough [resources] for the needs of every Ugandan but not enough for the greed of public servants entrusted to manage resources responsibly for the good of all Ugandans. This unacceptably shameful, draconian, uncivil form of conduct must be stopped in the greater interest of ensuring meaningful development for all Ugandans.”
Peter Wandera, Executive Director of Transparency International Uganda

Uganda suffers from a strong culture of impunity. The Ugandan government may have committed to repaying Ireland the €4 million lost, but there is no political accountability. Drastic steps are therefore needed to ensure that corruption does not trump aid and development.

What can be done

Internal monitoring mechanisms are in place, as demonstrated by the Office of the Auditor General’s report on the fraud allegations. But enforcement of the law is weak. To prevent corruption in development and improve accountability, the following is recommended by Transparency International Uganda:

  • Individuals in charge of respective departments and ministries should take full political and administrative responsibility.
  • Ugandan anti-corruption legislation and its effectiveness need to be re-evaluated.
  • Corruption investigations should be expedited by the police. The judiciary should address these matters with urgency before the case reaches the statute of limitations.
  • The Office of the Prime Minister’s role in handling funds should be assessed. If some funds had been decentralised to other ministries, the amount allegedly swindled could have been far less.
  • The donor community should put more stringent clauses in future funding agreements to deter graft. Including more direct funding to civil society for service delivery and monitoring should be explored.
  • Individuals found guilty of corruption should be held to account.

Press contact(s):

Peter Wandera
Executive Director, Transparency International Uganda
+256 414 255836

Chris Sanders
Manager, Media and Public Relations, Transparency International Secretariat
+49 30 3438 20 666

Country / Territory - Antigua   |   Czech Republic   |   Denmark   |   Ireland   |   Kyrgyzstan   |   Norway   |   Saint Kitts and Nevis   |   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines   |   Slovakia   |   Spain   |   Uganda   |   United Kingdom   
Region - Sub-Saharan Africa   |   Americas   |   Asia Pacific   |   Europe and Central Asia   
Language(s) - English   |   Vietnamese   
Topic - Accountability   |   Asset recovery   |   Humanitarian assistance   |   Politics and government   |   Poverty and development   

By leaving a comment, you acknowledge the terms of use for our comments board.

Stay informed

Related news


Media Advisory: 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index to be launched 3 December

Transparency International, the leading civil society organisation fighting corruption worldwide, will release its 20th annual Corruption Perceptions ...


G20: Stop corruption and close loopholes in the financial system to help the world’s poorest

An open letter published today to the leaders of the Group of 20 biggest economies, five days before the leaders’ summit in Brisbane, Australia, ...

Open letter to G20 Leaders

We call on the G20 leaders to put anti-corruption and money laundering at the top of their agenda.

Related publications

Publication cover image

Real lives, true stories

As many as two in three people worldwide believe that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption. Whether it’s taking ...

Report published – Aug 2014

Publication cover image

Working Paper 01/2013: 2015 and beyond: The governance solution for development

There are fewer than 1000 days remaining until the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Based on current progress, ...

Working paper published – Sep 2013