Deepening Democracy and Enhancing Sustainable Livelihoods in Uganda: An Independent Review of the Performance of Special Interest Groups in Parliament

"In 2006 Uganda was going through a political transition process. To most political commentators, yet another milestone in the democratic development of a country whose 44 years of post-independence period have been marred by political anarchy and violence. The way the political transition and constitutional reforms were handled will determine whether or not Uganda will have a peaceful democratic transition and consolidation of democracy. Critical in the constitutional reform and political transition processes is the institution of Parliament which is central to the amendment of the 1995 Constitution to provide for the necessary political reforms. In this study the performance of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in the 6th and 7th Parliament were assessed. It was argued here that strengthening the parliament to perform its legislative responsibility would ultimately promote environmental governance and sustainable livelihoods. The Special Interest Groups representation in parliament created an opportunity for effective representation of issues that directly affect livelihoods of the poor natural resource dependent communities. We have argued in this paper that the SIGs are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, and environmental scarcity than others in the Ugandan society. Consequently, effective legislative representation of SIGs environmental interests would not only secure their livelihoods but also protect the integrity of the environment and promote sustainable development."