Ensuring escapes from poverty are sustained in Uganda

Research reports and studies
June 2016
Lucy Scott, Vidya Diwakar and Moses Okech

Since the early 1990s, Uganda has experienced substantial reductions in poverty. Using the national poverty line, the poverty headcount has declined from 21% in 1992 to just over 20% in 2012. Economic growth, the end of conflict and sound macroeconomic management have all contributed strongly to this success. However, as people have moved out of poverty, the number of people living at a level less than twice the poverty line – termed the 'insecure non-poor' in the Ugandan context – has risen. In 2012–2013, as many as 14.7 million people were 'insecure non-poor', meaning they were extremely vulnerable to falling into poverty in the event of shocks or stressors, such as drought or an episode of ill health.

The specific focus of this report is on ‘transitory escapes’, i.e., on those households which, having successfully escaped from poverty, return to living in it once again. Analysis of the Uganda National Panel Survey reveals that transitory escapes are a significant phenomenon in Uganda. In particular, between 2005 and 2011, 9% of all households fell back into poverty. Of those households that escaped poverty between 2005 and 2009, around 40% were again living in poverty by 2011. The fact that many people escape poverty only to live at a condition just above the poverty line is a contributory factor for the high level of transitory escapes in Uganda.