About the Tondeka Mabega campaign
“Tondeka Mabega” is Uganda’s campaign to localize the SDGs and amplify the voices of marginalized people. Tondeka Mabega’ is a local slogan which means, “Do not leave me behind” and one that citizens can easily associate with given the existing social, economic and political divides in the country and region.
The Uganda National NGO Forum first launched the Tondeka Mabega campaign in 2016. A press statement at the launch noted that citizens of Uganda were saddened that while poverty levels had reduced, the number of ‘backsliders’ has risen. Of those households that escaped poverty between 2005 and 2009, around 40% were again living in poverty by 2011, which was unacceptable. This bore the need to find out from them what is happening and what could be done so the Ugandans do not take two steps forward and four steps. It was also noted that the socially excluded groups – women, children, older persons, PWDs and migrant communities and refugees- continue to face limited access to basic social services. The levels of youth unemployment are as high as 82%. Climate change continues to threaten the livelihoods of many communities that are largely dependent on agriculture.
Civil Society Organizations called for the pledge to “leave no-one behind” at the heart of the SDG agenda to be meaningful to all. This would mean that the SDG targets be met for everyone, with a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and furthest behind – those who are often the hardest to reach.
In May 2019, the SDG Agenda 2030 CSO Core Reference Group relaunched the local campaign. The NGO Forum works in collaboration with Uganda Local Governments Association, and with support from United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) on the country wide initiative. The campaign works through Citizen Dialogues which demand for a fundamental shift in national and global policy commitments to ensure that we end inequality and poverty, which perpetuate human suffering. The aim of the dialogues is to build momentum for all citizens across Uganda to participate in the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels using local, national and global resources.
The Tondeka Mabega nitiative works at the national level in all districts of Uganda with partners that have experience in working with marginalized groups. In the various regions of Uganda four categories of marginalized people are identified and ‘listening and solutions sessions’ between community members and decision makers and civil society partners are held in these communities.
The conveners explain the SDGs in local terms so that they are understood at the local level. The community members are then be able to share their stories, concerns and local solutions on what they want the decision makers to do to ensure that they are not left behind. The community members will also express their views on how they want to be included, they will explain what they want the decision makers to do but also what they want to do themselves to achieve the SDGs.
This exercise is documented and recorded and short reports and films of the key issues are developed. The community level exercises will be followed by national level processes with deliberations that will bring the decision makers and representatives of the marginalized groups together to reflect on how the issues at the community level will be taken up in the national development processes.
At this point the key issue will be about influencing the national policy processes like the National Development Plan implementation process. At the global level, the campaign targets the UN High Level Political Forum and the United Nations General Assembly. At this level, the aim is continuously ensure that issues of marginalized persons in Uganda and the rest of Africa are known and heard. The campaign notes that efforts will be made to bring some of the representatives of the marginalized in the events at this level as well as find other creative ways of amplifying the voices of marginalized poor.
The critical issue here is to ensure that there is attention taken on the SDGs. Initially, the campaign will be championed in 18 districts under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) i.e. (Acholi region): Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Lamwo and Nwoya (Lango region): Lira, Amolatar, Kole, (Teso region): Amuria and Katakwi, (Karamoja region): Moroto, Napak, Kotido, Abim, (West Nile region): Arua, Nebbi, Adjumani, Maracha districts.
Through its district networks, the NGO Forum has also organized three community dialogues in central, western and northern regions with at least 50 people from the different categories of marginalized groups- women and girls, PWDs, young people, older person, ethnic minorities and local leaders among others. The dialogues provided a platform for marginalized groups to voice their concerns and aspirations in the implementation of the SDGs. It was also an opportunity for these groups to share innovative solutions that they have developed to address the challenges they face on a daily basis. From the discussions held across the three regions and the aspirations and challenges shared, it is clear that the grass root citizens across the country experience similar challenges and want the same things regardless of the difference in regions, tribe or landscape – a better life.