Handouts can’t fight poverty, says EU envoy


Public handouts cannot eradicate poverty but rather empowerment with skills, European Union head of delegation to Uganda Kristian Schmidt has said.

“What would be the point of giving the poor farming tools for free if there is impunity of land grabbing? Increased respect for human rights is also a powerful recipe for eliminating poverty. And so the rights-based approach to development is the right and effective thing to fight poverty,” Mr Schmidt said.

He was speaking at the launch of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) report on human rights poverty on Friday in Kampala.

Mr Schmidt called on development partners and government to listen to the poor, empower them, respect their rights and support their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.

Human rights Vs development

“Everyone agrees that the economic empowerment of women is at the heart of economic development. So do the rules on land tenure allow that? How about the rules of inheritance? Or girls’ access to education?” he said.

The EU ambassador explained that even with the best of intentions from society and government, the poor are likely to miss out on quality education and health care, and are likely to be the first victims of environmental degradation, pollution and unsustainable management of natural resources.

He hailed FRHI executive director Livingstone Sewanyana for the report. “This report reminds us that all human rights are indivisible and universal, and therefore apply in their totality to all human beings. In terms of human rights, at least, the poor enjoy equal access.”

“The year 2015 has been a pivotal year for global sustainable development and poverty eradication. At the UN, the world decided to eradicate poverty by 2030, sustainable development goal number 1,” Mr Schmidt said.

“In doing so, the international community agreed on the interlinked nature of the fight against poverty, with 17 interlocking goals,” he said.


Recently, presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni promised 18 million hoes to six million households. The hoes are meant to boost food security and incomes for small land owners, the President said. However, critics criticised the move, saying it is inconsistent with the Agricultural Sector Development Plan that aims at modernisation of agriculture.




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