CSRC Working Paper 24

District Creation and Decentralisation in Uganda
Working Paper No : 24 (Series 2)
Author: Elliott Green
Date : January 2008

In recent years many countries across the world, especially in Africa, have created large numbers of new local administrative units. This trend has largely gone unnoticed in the scholarly community, with no attempts to understand the underlying processes at work. To examine this phenomenon I take the case study of Uganda, one of the more prominent ‘donor darlings’ of the 1990s. Alongside large-scale economic and political reforms Uganda has also experienced a near explosion in the number of districts (the highest level of local government), going from 39 to 79 in less than a decade. I examine six potential reasons why these districts might have been created, and argue, through the use of election results, interviews and other data, that district creation has been primarily a source of patronage in the ongoing need for Museveni to win elections. I conclude with reflections on the relationship between economic and political reforms and patronage in the developing world.