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Hitting the ground running: the SDGs in Uganda

Uganda’s track record is rather mixed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Though more children are going to school, too many drop out without finishing primary and secondary education. On maternal health, progress is even slower, to the degree that it is stagnating.

National and local ownership remained low throughout implementation of the MDGs in Uganda. Consequently, the National Development Plan was not aligned with the MDGs, which resulted in a separate financing, implementation and reporting framework.

As the adoption approaches of the post-2015 development agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, national governments have begun preparations to localize the agenda and integrate it within national planning. Uganda is doing things differently this time.

Listening to lessons learned

More than 10,000 people in Uganda voiced what they want for their future during the first round of consultations in 2011 and 2012 to shape the post-2015 development agenda. We listened during stakeholder discussions in workshops and through U-report, an SMS-based surveying tool.  We learned an important lesson: The success of the post-2015 development agenda depends largely on the degree of ownership experienced by citizens, communities and their national government.

Optimized-4.My World Fill Out MorotoThis lesson (and other aspirations) fed into the global consultations, the World We Want web platform, the MY World global survey, and other channels, like the sustainable development track through the Rio+20 conference. Lessons from the MDGs and aspirations for the future fed into national planning in Uganda, making a significant difference in these key plans:

Uganda Vision 2040 and its five-year plans

The importance of national ownership is an idea that influenced the country’s long-term development plan, Uganda Vision 2040, which outlines the ambition to become a middle-income country by the year 2040.  A series of five-year National Development Plans (NDPs) will set medium-term strategic direction, development priorities, and implementations strategies for Uganda Vision 2040. From the beginning of the post-2015 process, alignment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) with national planning has been a key concern.

The Second National Development Plan was launched in June 2015, after an exceptionally collaborative process with an eye towards integrating the SDGs from the start.

Highlights: creating a new national plan

When work started on the plan a year ago, Uganda’s National Planning Authority (NPA) made a ground-breaking announcement: to fully integrate the SDGs into the Second National Development Plan. This announcement followed a workshop held by the United Nations Country Team on localizing the SDGs.

Uganda then took integration to an even deeper level – with the alignment of the new NDPII with its new UNDAF, the strategic programme framework that describes the collective response of the UN system to national development priorities. Both the national planning and UNDAF processes benefitted in a number of ways:

  1. Rather than having separate country analysis, the UNCT supported the analysis of Uganda’s development needs for the NDPII and UNDAF.
  2. Joint understanding was fostered in the UNDAF design process, in which the Government was involved from the very beginning, to make sure that UNDAF complemented the objectives of the National Development Plan.
  3. Development of the NDP received extensive support by the United Nations. More than 18 different Government entities and every one of the 19 UN agencies in Uganda were part of the design process.

The results of collaboration are remarkable. The new UNDAF addresses more than 85 percent of the SDG targets. The second NDP integrates 76 percent of the targets. Combined, the new UNDAF and national plan address 89 percent of the SDG targets – an outstanding result of a collaborative process, and a reflection of national ownership of sustainable development objectives.

Next step: localization of the SDGs

Uganda recently hosted the first Post-2015 National Briefing – leading the way in efforts to assist national governments in preparing for the “localization” at national level of the new development agenda. The event tested a briefing package developed by UNITAR and partners. The Ugandan government was the first in piloting this briefing package, together with the UN Country Team and two training experts from UNITAR.

Uganda and the United Nations Country Team will continue to work together to ensure the goals are translated from the NDP into local government and sector development plans.

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