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“Let’s bring dignity back to the poor”
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“Let’s bring dignity back to the poor”

Uganda’s rural poor face multiple challenges to development, writes Munguongeyo Ivan, 24, a Correspondent from Kampala, Uganda, who argues for the need to place human rights at the centre of development policy.

The rural poor in Uganda lack access to financial services, they are at the edges of communities, often isolated and have limited access to improved social  services like road, water and sanitation. They are hit hard by climate change vagaries, families go hungry and slide inexorably in to poverty and other socio- economic constraints, and consequently lag behind.

There is need to place human rights at the centre of development policy. This should be based on justice, dignity and equality of human beings.

The concept of equality is very important. Over 15,000 Africans die each and every year of preventable disease like malaria, HIV/AIDs, TB and others due to lack of drugs that we take for granted. Uganda, for example, produces antiretroviral drugs through a local pharmaceutical firm, however the costs of production is reportedly high, making Uganda’s locally-produced drugs more expensive than the imported ones. This is a frightening situation that needs to be addressed if we are to promote zero tolerance to HIV infection in Uganda. What is happening in Uganda raises doubts, and questions our commitment to the whole concept of promoting sustainable development. Poor people are dying of treatable diseases.

For those of us who lived in the rural areas, we do not need to be reminded. The people who die are members of our families, friends and relatives. We tend to suffer and support them so that they regain their health. We are at their bedsides to see the pain and agony in their eyes, and the fear and the grief of their families as they try to comfort them. We are there when they lose the battle for life; we attend their burials and funeral rites. We commit their bodies to the ground and their souls to their ancestors. We are ever in grief and the pain is unrelenting. At times, our anger becomes outrage because their sufferings and death could have been prevented.

Poverty indeed turns human beings in to nothing. A poor man is never listened to. He has nowhere to go and complain for no one will take action on his or her story. This is simply because the people in the system know each other and they protect each other. In the end, the poor are mired in perennial poverty.

Poverty forces people to make impossible choices. Many young girls in the rural and urban areas alike have resorted in to ‘sex for money’. It’s not that they desire it, but conditions have pushed them to the wall. They have no choices but to offer their bodies for cheap prices to earn a living. This is frustrating. The promise to the world’s poor has been broken by their local governments and the international communities alike.

In addition to undermining education and fuelling the AIDs pandemic, poverty and hunger worsens the conditions of the poor people. Until governments can assure their citizens equality, employment, right to food, education and better health services, they will struggle to gain support of the people.

Let’s bring back dignity to the poor in Uganda.

Photo credit: andres musta HELLO! HUMAN RIGHTS via photopin (license)

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About me: I am Munguongeyo Ivan, from Kampala, Uganda. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from Makerere University and currently am pursuing Master’s Degree in Rural Development at the same University. My aim is to be a lecturer in the development studies discipline. I also have wide knowledge in serving local communities and specifically working with NGOs to improve on the welfare of the rural poor. I am currently a volunteer with an NGO called Hands of Love Foundation.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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