Saturday, May 19, 2012

Insecure - not in the middle class

According to the African Development Bank benchmark adapted by the ministry of finance, people spending more than $2 per day in purchasing power parity (approximately equivalent to two times Uganda's poverty line) are considered middle class. Using this benchmark, about one million Ugandans (or 6.6%) have moved out of the absolute poverty bracket (and are living on more than $1 a day) between 2006 and 2010, a new report indicates. The "Poverty Status Report" produced by the ministry of finance indicates that Ugandans living below the poverty line fell to 24.5% (7.5 million) in 2009/2010 from 31.1% (8.5 million) 2005/06. The report says the number of middle class Ugandans has risen from 7.8 million (28.7%) to 10 million (32.6 %.) and from 1.8 million in 1992 to over 10 million today.

James Ogule, who lives in Namugongo, a Kampala surburb, thinks the vendors selling matooke (plantains) by the road to his house should not be considered middle class. The vendors spend more than $2 (sh5,200) a day and Ogule who works with a government regulatory body thinks equating a middle class to sh5,200 a day is a pity.
"Look, we are setting very low standards, we should ask whether these people have access to all the services like health and are they secure?,"
asked Ogule.

Uncertainties exist. These include unpredictable weather, crop and livestock diseases, ill health, price fluctuations and insecure access to land. This vulnerability is reflected among school going children from poor families who most times fail to complete school.

Despite the impressive jump in livelihood quality, the number of people still vulnerable and insecure with the possibility of sliding back to poverty has risen from 11% to 13.2%.

"Many Ugandans have moved out of poverty but have not moved to middle class, the size of this insecure group has more than doubled since the early 1990s,"
read the report.

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