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Priorities and Livelihood

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The 2010 study reveals that as the dynamic of the conflict has shifted from violence to physical peace and recovery, respondents’ priorities have changed. In 2005 and 2007, peace, security, and returning home were among respondents’ top priorities. In 2010, although respondents recognized the need for social reconstruction (e.g., building unity) and holding perpetrators accountable, they prioritized fulfillment of basic needs and provision of services higher. This is understandable given that as security has improved, people have started to return and resettle. Priorities in order of importance to respondents were food (28%), agriculture, including access to land and seeds (19%), education (15%), and health services (13%). Food, the highest ranked priority, was most frequently mentioned in Kitgum and Pader. This likely reflects higher levels of food insecurity in parts of eastern Kitgum and Pader districts where inadequate 2009 rainfall limited household cultivation, resulting in low harvests.[1]

We also asked respondents if the government should give higher priority to any particular task or sector than it was doing at the time of the survey. Almost all respondents (95%) proposed answers. Again, respondents could provide more than one response. The respondents most frequently wanted the government to give more priority to education programs (45%) and health services (44%). Many also mentioned providing water (39%), economic development, including money (29%), and employment (22%), as well as food (21%) and resettlement assistance (21%). As this wide range of responses illustrates, while provision of basic needs remains important to people, many would like to see the government put more emphasis on recovery and reconstruction.

Figure 6: Respondents’ Top Priorities

Figure 6 - Respondents’ Top Priorities

Agriculture’s place as a top priority for respondents reflects the occupational patterns of the survey population. The survey results show that 90 percent of the respondents’ households depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. Most households cultivated cash crops (88%), and sold at least part of their harvest (89%). Most of the respondents (91%) were themselves involved in “digging.”[2] Most (90%) further found digging to be acceptable work for the long term. However, only 81 percent of those aged 30 or below, and 73 percent of those who had at least some secondary education or vocational training, found it an acceptable occupation. Those who did not find digging to be an acceptable long-term form of work said it did not generate enough income (28%), that it was too hard (24%), or that better job/income opportunities were available.


[1] UGANDA Food Security Update, March 2010, Famine Early Warning Systems Network,

[2] In Uganda, people often use the term “digging” to mean cultivating or farming.