Evolutionary Process of NGOs/Non Proift Organizations in Uganda.
NGOs in Uganda date as far back as the pre colonial period. This is seen in the ways communities in Uganda mobilized them selves for collective benefit. For instance associations like “Munno Mukabi”, “Wang Tic”, and “Bataka Twezikye” among others. Within such associations people came together to associate and achieve common goals.
However, with the coming of colonialism, we see the set up and activities of such community associations change. Different groups/organizations evolved to resist colonial rule and demand for better prices for their agricultural produce. Such resistance led to the introduction of greater African participation and promotion of agricultural cooperatives by the colonial government. This led to the birth of membership organizations such as the “Young Men of Buganda” and the “Uganda African Welfare Associations”. The period 1888-1962 also saw the birth of human rights NGOs. The birth of the “Uganda Council of Women”, formed by middle class women to rally behind women’s rights to participate in national politics are a pointer to the preposition.
The pre independence period saw the coming o international NGOs (charitable organizations) and religious based NGOs. For instance in 1931 Salvation Army came on the Ugandan scene as well as Young Women Christian Association-YWCA (1952) and Young Men Christian Association-YMCA (1959). With the coming of INGOs there was a shift in approach of NGO work from civic engagement to welfare promotion. NGOs concentrated on gap filling by giving charity to those by passed by government programs.
The arrival of missionaries led to the growth of religious/faith based groups, which established churches, schools and hospitals. It is important to note that remain key players in areas of health and education targeting special groups like children and persons with disabilities.
The post independence period saw an increase in the number of international NGOs. The International Committee of Red Cross (1962), Oxfam (1963), and CARE (1969) appeared on the scene.
During the period 1971-1979, Uganda was characterized by dictatorship and suppression of freedoms including the freedom to associate which stifled the growth and activities of NGOs. Through out this period only a few Faith Based Organizations persisted in their work as most INGOs withdrew their staff and scaled down their activities. Such organizations continued providing relief and basic services especially in health, education and community development. Crucial to this period is that the relationship between the government and NGOs remained non interventionist, which enabled NGOs to enjoy financial freedom.
The period 1980 to date is characterized as the NGO decade. During this period the NGO sector grew steadily both in number and in activity. NGOs developed specifically to participate in the reconstruction and offer social and welfare services. During this period NGO funding was project based. From fairly modest numbers prior to 1986, the sector has grown dramatically since then and it is estimated that currently over 5,000 NGOs, with the number of INGOs at over 350 may be active in the country. However, lack of a reliable, up-to-date database on the number and nature of sector actors is one of the major gaps affecting orderly development of the sector.