A study conducted by Makerere University’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration between September and December 2011 puts Uganda’s poverty rate at 87%.
According to the research findings, poverty ranked the number one problem impacting on people’s welfare. 84% of the social work practitioners interviewed mentioned poverty as the key problem presented by their clients; with 44% estimating poverty levels among the clients as “very high”.
“Whereas the government has made some progress to reduce poverty, it is also true that the number of people living in poverty remains very high. High unemployment rates and lack of access to productive resources such as land, credit, market and information limit the productive capacity of the poor,” reads the report on the research findings.
The report further states that the existence of preventable diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections makes people spend a lot of money on illness management instead of investing into productive ventures. Insecurity such as that which happened in Northern Uganda for almost 20 years was also identified as a major cause of poverty in the region. Other common problems presented to social workers included domestic violence.
The main objective of the study was to explore and assess the role of professional social work in poverty reduction and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals in Uganda.
The researchers established that professional social workers have a critical role to play in poverty reduction and the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals but are often underrated and excluded from government programmes.
66% of the social work practitioners were found to be playing several unique roles in poverty alleviation programs, including; resource mobilisation and provision, capacity building to address the underlying problem of limited practical knowledge and skills in production processes, supporting individuals and households to start income generating activities, and prevention and promotion of good health.
The researchers appealed to the government to engage more social workers in its programmes, noting that the problems that require professional social work intervention are enormous.
For details of the research download report below