Ugandan economy has been in a constant downfall over recent months, primarily due to drought and inflation. The Ugandan Shilling plummeted in recent weeks and hit an 18-year low this week when its value to the US Dollar fell to 2,710 UGX / $1. The devaluation of the shilling, astronomical inflation of goods, and a nation of people with less income has produced turmoil in Uganda. When people are poor and hungry, their actions are driven by the desperation to survive, which often leads to violence. Wars are fought everyday around the world because people are unable to provide for their families and resort to violence as the avenue to effect change.
In April, a political pressure group, motivated by Uganda’s economic inflation, coordinated a protest against high commodity prices. What began as a peaceful strike against the high prices of food, gasoline and other staple resources ended in violence, as police responded with hostility. It was called the “Walk To Work Campaign,” and it encouraged Ugandans to do just that – walk through Kampala rather than drive or take public transportation. They chose to strike against the public transportation system in Kampala as a sign of their demand for change.
The protestors wanted the Ugandan government to assist its citizens by providing subsidized prices on certain commodities (i.e. food, gas, building materials) until the economy becomes stable again. The campaign organized Ugandans to walk together twice a week until the government responded to their requests. However, the government responded with violence, as well as banning the use of social network sites in Uganda to eliminate the future possibility of such organized efforts on the part of the people. The police and army physically confronted protesters, firing weapons and using tear gas. In the process, many protesters have been arrested and injured.
At this time, the government has banned all public demonstrations, which is strictly enforced by the police. As prices rise and the shilling continues to plummet, something must change in order to bring a resolution to Uganda’s shaken economy.