Social protection and social work in Uganda

Authored by: Paul Bukuluki , Ronard Mukuye , John-Bosco Mubiru , Jane Namuddu

The Handbook of Social Work and Social Development in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472468512
eBook ISBN: 9781315557359
Adobe ISBN: 9781317029380


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This chapter traces the evolution of social protection for those living in extreme poverty in Uganda. It reviews Uganda’s development trajectory from the mixed-economy model immediately post-independence in 1962 through structural adjustment in the 1980s to poverty alleviation at the turn of the century. This development agenda exists alongside a welfare system inherited from the British colonial administration, where the bulk of social workers were originally employed. The backbone of social protection, however, remains the traditional extended family system and community-based care (Abebe & Aase, 2007; Ankrah, 1993; Kasente, Asingwire, Banugire, & Kyomuhendo, 2002; Kyaddondo & Mugisha, 2014; Madhavan, 2004). As Bukuluki and Mubiru (2014) observed, ‘traditional (informal) social support mechanisms (kinship, extended family and mutual support groups) are the most important social security providers in the country, particularly to those who lack or have limited access to formal systems’ (p. 1). This chapter provides an overview of successive development and poverty-alleviation policies and argues that social workers need to engage in this broader development agenda. This requires a greater awareness of international influences on policy trajectories and increased engagement in social protection as Uganda’s core poverty-alleviation strategy. The chapter concludes with recommendations for social work engagement beyond urban-based service delivery.

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