From East, North, West and Central Uganda, 12 people gathered for a common cause. Though they had been briefed about the Ground Level Panel, to begin with no one knew what to do exactly and what to contribute. Seated in a circle, the 12 experts were assured that their views and real life experiences were of critical importance to the process of developing the post-2015 development framework.
Getting started and building confidence
With a diverse group of young and old people, it was always going to be challenging to build cohesion, but each person was given a chance to talk about themselves openly and their motivations including making a visual presentation of their communities and the challenges they face every day. At the end of the day they were able to identify common problems across the group, demystifying myths that some regions were better off than the others. Land and peace issues remain a cross cutting problem for the Batwa, Karimojong, Kampala urban slum dwellers and rural parts of central Uganda.
Facilitating a move away from “my community” to “our country”
It was clear that possibly many thought that the GLP was about presenting issues affecting their communities and lobbying for support, but with a ground breaking exercise of sharing their daily experiences, motivations and community realities, many saw similarities across the board. This built a much more focused discussion, grounded not just on regional issues but national problems. It’s not surprising that many shared lots of ideas about Uganda’s future, building on their real experiences.
The Collective Vision
Built around the five transformative shifts included in the High Level Panel Report on Post-2015, the panelists came up with an amazing vision:
“Our Vision for Uganda is that it respects the rule of law, human rights, and transparency to ensure that services are delivered to everyone equally without any segregation or misappropriation of national resources.” Specific recommendations were suggested for each transformative shift such as bottom up planning by government to ensure that no one is left behind, that realising sustainable development requires a holistic thinking beyond the environmental issues, peace and good governance are key to realising economic transformation and that openness and trust can build stable societies. By working hand in hand, we can achieve a global partnership for development.
Specific reflections from the panellists while they deliberated on their recommendations…
“When you look at this tree there is peace in the leaves which implies development comes from down to the top and if it is to be successful the bottom has to be well rooted”.
“If we are united, peace will prevail, and if we are united still, we only need the gun to protect us from those that would like destabilize our peace and unity. We need to love each other from the heart, irrespective of origin, when people love each other equally they will follow the rule of law…”
“I would emphasize to the HLP that if a person have access to health care that there is no way that they can develop. People’s health is very key as if women are not healthy or children are not healthy there is a problem. So there is need to emphasise access to health services and we will definitely improve our livelihoods as health is wealth”
The Decision-makers interface
After five days of deliberation, the panellists knew and were conversant with their vision and recommendations. The interface event was co-hosted by the Parliamentary Forum on the Millennium Development Goals and the Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs and engaged decision-makers from government, civil society and development partners.
Having undergone such a complex process, the feedback from the decision makers was complementary and encouraging and many of the panelists were inspired by the experience and did commit to take action and share with communities. Looking ahead, the ground level panel will now prepare a report on their deliberations including input from the Parliamentary event and will contribute to a global report on the GLPs that will draw together the outcome documents from all four events.