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Donor agenda-setting, bureaucratic advocacy and cash transfers in Uganda (2002-2013)

Year: 2014
Working paper number: 352
Author: Grebe, Eduard
Unit: SSU
This paper focuses on donors and—in particular—bureaucrats as agents of change in welfare policy reform processes in Uganda between 2002 and 2013. It shows how donors managed to establish cash transfers on the development policy agenda (but failed to gain sufficient political support for implementation), and 'recruit' a group of supportive social development bureaucrats in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Protection after 2002. From 2006, domestic political support increased markedly, in no small part owing to both continued donor support and bureaucratic advocacy. Bureaucrats increasingly became the frontline advocates of policy reform—acting both as the agents of a donor agenda and, increasingly, an autonomous constituency strongly supportive of cash transfers within the Ugandan state. This bureaucratic 'buy-in' was an essential contributor to the increasing prominence of cash transfers in policy debates and in securing political support for the eventual implementation of a cash transfer pilot scheme from 2010. These bureaucrats actively lobbied other sections of the bureaucracy and members of the political elite. The paper contends that they—with donor support—succeeded in constructing a coalition in support of cash transfers, comprising sections of the bureaucracy (including some finance and planning technocrats), civil society organisations and political leaders in both the legislature and executive. This coalition enjoyed sufficient influence to secure the approval and successful implementation of a cash transfer pilot, as well as to firmly establish a national tax-funded social pension on the domestic political agenda by 2013.
Publication file: WP 352.pdf