ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.


Our work on participatory democracy and governance is premised on understanding that poverty is a consequence of abuse of power manifested through undemocratic practices, unaccountable and non-responsive leadership and paternalist ‘welfare’ approach where citizens must wait upon the generosity and goodwill of the giver.


  • Key to Uganda’s system of governance is low capacity of the citizens to demand and hold leaders to account for their actions and limited or non-involvement of the governed in decision making
  • The supply side of the accountability is characterised by a rather patronising system for buying support and approval for those wielding State power, rule by law rather than rule of law, and unaccountable and endemic corruption among leaders.
  • As guided by our  Country Strategic Paper, our work focuses on  three intervention areas:  
  • 1) Improving governance in delivery of social services;
  • 2) Promoting civic participation;
  • 3) Building resilience to emerging threats in the context and improving accountability of state and non-state actors.



  • Promotion of transparency of the  state and non-state institutions  
  • Promoting citizen’s participation in decision making processes
  • Ensuring responsibility in the exercise of power by those welding political offices
  • Promoting accountability of the decision-makers
  • Increasing responsiveness of the leaders  to people’s needs through provision of social  services
  • It’s is our belief that youths should be meaningfully engaged in governance in order to build sustainable peace, security and development.
  • We also prioritise access to justice for women, children and other vulnerable groups while advocating for legislative and policy reforms. We pride in initiating and leading policy debates. In a two pronged approach we directly implement some of the governance activities at both the national and local levels through the governance Unit and the Local rights Programs as well as work with and through our partners.


Current projects

  • Currently we have the following projects as part of the broader governance program;
  • Information! Voice! Accountability funded by the Democratic Governance Facility in Uganda
  • ActionAid Denmark programme which funds our work with ACCU, DENIVA and Cross Cultural Foundation.
  • Tax Power Campaign funded by ActionAid Denmark.
  • ACRE II funded by ActionAid US. 

Program Thrust

  • Participatory Democracy and Governance is critical in delivering sustained benefits of poverty eradication interventions and guaranteeing a human rights culture. There are inherent risks of reversing achievements made so far in poverty eradication efforts if no investments are made in promoting participatory democracy and governance with people at the centre and participating in making decisions that affect them.
  • Endemic corruption, abuse of power, ineffective institutions, limited civic participation and inadequacies in the legal and policy frameworks increase vulnerabilities for people struggling to get out of poverty. Our strategic objective is to support women, youth, communities and their organisations at local and national level to build resilience, engage public officials and institutions to respect civil liberties and be accountable for provision of quality and timely social and judicial services. To achieve this strategic objective, have are currently implementing four projects:
  • Information! Voice! Accountability! Improved Service Delivery! Project funded by DGF predominantly implemented in Northern and North Eastern Uganda articulates 4 fairly independent but connected and mutually reinforcing work areas enjoined in a governance programme that emphasises the importance of the right information placed in the hands of citizens in accessible formats as a basis for informed debate and citizen action in pursuit of quality service delivery and ultimately a good life by ordinary women, men, the youth and children. The essence of this programme is to contribute to the demand for accountability and spur sensitive decision making by decision makers. We work with men, women, youth, state and non-state actors to realise our objectives for instance NGO forum and ACME and the general public to mobilize a critical mass against corruption and improved service delivery through the holding of anti-corruption caravans, participation in black Monday activities and publication of oil in Uganda and related matters.
  • Under AADK programme funded by ActionAid Denmark, we aim at eradicating corruption and demanding social accountability. This component is implemented by two partners i.e ACCU and RACCs in the different parts of the country; and DENIVA spearheads social accountability, deliberative dialogues and social mobilisation and advocacy campaigns around civic engagement through such spaces such as the citizens manifesto and neighbourhood assembles.
  • ACRE (Action for Children’s Rights to Education) project on the other hand advocates for reforms in the education sector. We recognise the challenges that have dogged the education sector for instance the ever deteriorating standard of education and poor teachers’ remuneration.
  • We were part of the CSO that petitioned parliament on the devastating quality of education in public schools which are unfortunately a knowledge hub for the poor and disadvantaged only.
  • The Tax Power Campaign launched by ActionAid in collaboration with Uganda Revenue Authority, Local Government Finance Commission and Uganda Investment Authority aims at advocating for tax justice through the elimination of tax avoidance and dodging. We believe that as a country we lose lots of revenue through unfairly negotiated taxation treaties, tax holidays and incentives. ActionAid’s evidenced based study entitled ``A race to the bottom; Tackling harmful tax competition’’ revealed that East Africa Uganda inclusive has been losing too much revenue about USD 2.8 billion through tax incentives and exemptions. This is one of the critical missing links to development.·


  • Our approach is based on a theory of change that puts people at the centre of development by advancing people centred alternatives, strengthening their voices and civic actions to tackle root causes of poverty and injustice and building their resilience and capacity to respond to vulnerabilities.
  • We use participatory approaches ranging from the rights based approach to deepening partnerships, focus on women’s rights, working with youth and children, participatory methodologies as well as working beyond the local.
  • The Rights Based Approach defines our way of working. In this approach, we build on the progress made during the last strategy period and focus on building and deepening understanding among staff, partners, supporters, and rights holders that eradication of poverty and injustice can only happen if the rights of the poor and excluded people are protected, promoted and fulfilled. We empower rights holders and their organisations, build solidarity between rights holders and allies locally and internationally, and support campaigns to hold the state accountable to the poor and excluded people; and support the poor and excluded to organise and mobilize for action, build capacity, develop rights awareness and become conscious of their marginal position and the underlying causes. Through movements, coalitions, networks and alliances we magnify the voices of the poor and marginalised in the fight against poverty and injustice. Our partnership approach is premised on recognition of the need for mutual accountability including appraisals to monitor values and principles, a commitment to demonstrate impact of our actions among others.
  • Our focus on women’s rights is based on our learning over the years that gender is a universal predictor of poverty and that the underlying causes of poverty and injustice are engendered. We focus on women to uplift their status and harness their untapped potential with a view to maximizing the impact of their unexploited power. We work with youth as agents of change because we acknowledge that the majority of Uganda’s population is youthful and any effort for change that doesn’t involve them is not sustainable. We believe that if mobilised and supported in building civic and human rights awareness and action, the youth and children can help shape a more democratic, equitable and sustainable world.
  • We use our experience in participatory methods such as reflect and star, barazas, youth parliaments, neighbourhood assemblies, and monitor groups at community levels to support poor people and their organisations to engage in the struggle of claiming and enforcing their rights. We utilise the aforementioned as platforms for citizens’ empowerment and capacity building to enable citizens effectively engage in planning and budgeting processes, budget tracking and demand for accountability from duty bearers.
  • We are uniquely rooted in communities where we develop and implement long-term programmes over a period based on our constituents’ experiences, knowledge and resoucres, thus allowing room for a greater impact of our work. Recognising that the solution to endemic poverty is beyond the communities we work with, we work beyond the local by engaging those who hold the power to decide, whenever they are located and positioned.
  • We carry out action researches, model development alternatives to poverty eradication and justice, and document evidence to support our policy advocacy and campaign work at local, national and international levels.  We are a learning institution and use lessons learnt to shape our programming. Effective use of lessons learnt from past engagements has ensured our relevance to the people we serve. We work with media to highlight bad governance and advocate for respect, promotion and protection of human rights.


  • Mobilisation;
  • Empowerment,
  • Solidarity;
  • Campaigning
  • We pride in our great mobilization and empowerment ability which has resulted in a more informed and engaged public.
  • We have built capacities of communities, men, women and youth inclusive to demand for improved service delivery and value for money particularly in the education, health and road sector.
  • Through our Human Rights Based Approach to programming we pioneered people’s action monitoring framework and supported the poor, vulnerable and marginalised to exercise their basic human rights for example teachers under their umbrella organisation the Uganda National Teachers’ Union to demand for improved terms and conditions of service for example a decent remuneration.
  • Through ActionAid Denmark and Danida funded projects such as Gender Social Accountability Project and Danish TV project we supported and empowered communities to participate in budget advocacy at local council and local government levels.


Impact of our work:

  • We were part and partial of the Coalition on Quality Primary Education whose efforts resulted in a government decision to accede to teachers’ demand for a 15% pay rise. A memorandum of Understanding to this effect was entered into between the Government and UNATU, the teachers’ umbrella body.
  • Our Black Monday Campaign gathered momentum and has encouraged discourse on corruption in the country. Black Monday has harnessed support from a vast array of Ugandans including some government officials.Last year at the International Human Rights Day celebration ActionAid Uganda was awarded a certificate of recognition for its work on good governance.
  • A success story; ActionAid in collaboration with Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition led to the arrest and detention of Mr. Christopher Baluku, the Roads Inspector, Bundibugyo District who misappropriated UGX. 4,662,000 the worth of 1635.2 litres of fuel meant for the maintenance of community access roads in the of Ngamba, Ntotoro, Mirambi and Bubukwanga sub-counties. The scam was unearthed during the district dialogue meeting organised by Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition in collaboration with ActionAid Uganda and Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda. 
  • The suspect who did not refute the allegation and committed himself in writing to refund the said funds was charged in courts of law and later refunded the sum total. 

Research and knowledge

  • The Lost Opportunity study conducted in 11 districts comprising Kampala, Wakiso, Masindi, Mitoma, Katakwi, Luuka, Pader, Zombo, Nakasongola, Buvuma and Kotido indicates that most youths who are unemployed are a threat to their communities and likely to become a source of instability if government doesn’t intervene to curb the situation. The findings of the study are subject of youth dialogues with a view to seeking the input of youths into current youth programmes such as youth entrepreneurship, livelihood project, youth fund and national development.
  • A race to the bottom; Tackling Harmful Tax Competition study conducted by Tax Justice Network Africa and ActionAid Uganda unravelled how East Africa Uganda inclusive losses colossal sums of monies/revenues in the form of tax incentives, holidays and unfavourable tax treaties as they try to outcompete each other and attract investors. The study further revealed that the lost revenues are a missing link in sustainable development. In a bid to try and correct this anomaly, ActionAid Uganda in collaboration with Uganda Revenue Authority and Uganda Investment Authority launched the Tax Power Campaign.
  • The Tax Scooping Study focused on how the multi country tax justice campaign would be best conducted in terms of allies, influence strategy and others.
  • The Public Service Gap Analysis study highlighted public service provision and gap analysis in terms of quantity, quality, regional distribution and the trend of government budget allocation to specified sectors. This study will spur and sharpen debate on gender and public service delivery.

Upcoming events:

  • We are staring off implementation of activities under the European Commission project on Violence against children that will run for the next three years in the districts of Kween, Kapchorwa, Amudat and Kumi. The project is aimed at Empowering children and their communities to address harmful practices and violence against children in Eastern Uganda
  • Anti-Corruption Caravan in Eastern Uganda
  • Regional Youth Camps and National Dialogue and Youth Parliament to inform the Youth Agenda.
  • Advocacy on free and fair elections, electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 General Elections.
  • Roll out of the Tax Power Campaign


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