The View from Le Château: USAID's Recent Decentralisation Programming in Uganda


  • None of this research would have been possible without my co-researcher Eugene Ssemakula, whose insights enhanced my understanding immeasurably. For supporting the research, I thank the History Department, the International Beliefs and Values Institute, the Office of International Programs, and the Africana Studies Program at James Madison University.


This article makes three linked arguments. (i) USAID's decentralisation portfolio in Uganda was launched, ironically, at precisely the time when the government was reorienting itself toward recentralisation. (ii) Because of the prevalence of dehistoricised approaches to policy, design, practice and evaluation, USAID programmers could not fully assess the contextual situation of their decentralisation projects. (iii) Greater attention to historical context would have allowed USAID planners to design and assess their Uganda programmes more carefully – though it could not, of course, offer fixed prescriptions or guarantee project success.