Social Assistance Targeting in Uganda
Implications for social cohesion in communities
This study aims to enhance the understanding of social assistance targeting in Uganda, providing evidence to help policymakers and practitioners improve the effectiveness and impact of interventions on social cohesion. Uganda’s varied social protection programs, set against a backdrop of economic shocks and limited resources, offer a rich context for analyzing the implications of different targeting mechanisms on social cohesion.
Social cohesion is deeply rooted in Ugandan society, where communities traditionally take collective responsibility for member wellbeing. This study examines social cohesion in relation to communal ties, including those formed through village solidarity, religious structures, and traditional forms of support. Development programs, however, can disrupt these existing social structures. The interplay between social protection and social cohesion is critical, as both aim to enhance equality and wellbeing within society. According to Babajanian (2012), social protection can positively influence social cohesion by establishing citizenship rights, alleviating poverty, reducing inequalities, combating social exclusion, and strengthening social capital and interpersonal relationships. Effective program design is crucial to ensure social protection enhances social inclusion without causing harm.
The methodology of this study includes a literature review and a predominantly qualitative mixed-method research approach. It involves mapping out social assistance programs in Uganda and examining the implications of various targeting approaches – both universal and poverty-targeted – on social cohesion. Fieldwork was conducted over two weeks in May 2023 in Kampala, Arua, Koboko, and Yumbe districts. The study encompasses five programs: GEG, UCWP, DRDIP, NutriCash, and the Senior Citizens Grant. Data collection included thirteen key informant interviews with government institutions, development agencies, NGOs, and community groups involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring of these programs. Additionally, fourteen focus group discussions with a total of 196 participants were held, encompassing beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries, host and refugee communities, mentors, and community targeting groups.
The report aims to provide a comprehensive mapping of Uganda’s social assistance targeting mechanisms, assess their impact on social cohesion, and offer key learnings and policy recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of these programs. The findings are expected to contribute to a nuanced understanding of how different targeting approaches influence social dynamics and communal ties in Uganda.