Vision 2040 aims at having a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years. The conceptualization of this vision is that the country plans to i) harnessing the opportunities in the country ii) strengthening the infrastructure to facilitate development. The strategy set up is to divide the Vision 2040 into six- 5 years National Development Plans (NDP). NDP-I is in its final stages and its achievements and lessons set the baseline for NDP-II. NDP-II, which starts in the second half of this year, sets three priority development areas for the country; a) Agriculture, b) Tourism, c) Minerals, oil & gas. The mandate for implementing the NDP-II lies with the respective sectors in government who work together with the private sector and Civil society organizations under the Quasi- approach.
Given this background, we wonder how natural resource management, our main concern as conservationists in NatureUganda, is connected to these developments in the country. We are aware that the rich diversity is continually being degraded by development programmes like roads and mineral developments. How does the National Planning Authority (NPA) harmonize natural resource conservation and development in this NDP for Uganda?
The public talk organized by NatureUganda on 7th May 2015 enlightened us on these issues. From the talk, we realized that the sectors of tourism and agriculture which were identified as primary in the NDP-II are based on national resources as thier raw materials. The Guest Speaker Dr. Patrick Birungi,director of planning, NPA took us through the formulation process of the NDP and we realized that it is informed by sector plans/master plans, Local Government development plans and any plan that exits be it from the, civil society, academia as long as it informs a national picture. Every sector is expected to have a sector development plan and this serves as the beef of the NDP. In this case, the environment sector feeds into the agricultural and Tourism sectors and that is where natural resources come in the NDP.
He mentioned that this country has enormous opportunities and most of these are nature-based. “What we are not doing well is harnessing these appropriately”, he noted. We need to strengthen the fundamentals such as human resource, infrastructure, value addition and markets among others. This is what the vision of National Development Planning “propelling sustainable socio-economic transformation of Uganda” is about. However, he noted that the review of NDP-I highlighted that we are not implementing the plan well due to a number of challenges. These range from a proposing projects whose details don’t exist at all e.g a standard gate railway and also proposing projects that are not yet ready as financial investments but are still concepts yet they are being publicized as development projects. One such example he mentioned was the Ayago energy project whose feasibility study has not even been completed yet. There are capacity issues in our financial systems as well as government issues like misuse of resources. Public service is one of the challenges of development in this country and how to make the public service more efficient and effective still remains ac big challenge being addressed by the government
Development focus for the NDPII
The three priorities in the development focus for NDP-II i.e Tourism, agriculture and the mineral development mainly oil and gas sectors seek to drive Uganda to middle-income status from the current percapita income of US$788, to US$1,033 by 2020. In his closing remarks, he noted that these three priority areas are nature-based, but to achieve this set target, we need to strengthen the fundamentals such as the infrastructures and human skills development and carry out value addition along the value chain.