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Uganda has a long history of decentralized governance. By the time the country became independent from her colonial master in 1962, there were already a system of local governments. This system was dismantled shortly after independence and in its place a centralized system of government was adopted.

At the end of Civil War in 1986 once again created an opportunity for Uganda to get back to a decentralized system of government. The reforms were instituted by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) after overthrowing the regime of the dictator Idi Amin Dada.

Uganda’s decentralized form of government is based on the 1997 Local Government Act as the broad legal framework.

Uganda adopted a centralized system of governance in 1987. The country operates under a five-tier structure of Local Councils. These are:

  1. The village
  2. Parish
  3. Sub-County
  4. County
  5. City Councils

Uganda’s districts have been increasing over the years. These districts were 83 in 1986, 80 in 2007; 112 in 2012 and later expanded 137 in 2012.

Examples of Ugandan districts are: Hoima, Kasese, Tororo, Mbale, Busia, Mukno, Luwero, Kibale and Moroto.

In 1992, the presidential policy was formalized. This was a government commitment towards decentralization.

When Uganda entered into decentralized form of government, there were few examples elsewhere to learn from.


Saitō, F. (2003). Decentralization and development partnerships: Lessons from Uganda. Tokyo: Springer.

Read More: Decentralization in India

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