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Trading, power and politics in a northern Ugandan marketplace

Research reports

Written by Richard Mallett

It is often assumed that efforts to modernise and formalise economic activities will create jobs, improve work conditions and boost vendor incomes. Experience suggests they are often met with dissapointing results, however, raising questions about current interventions.

Through a case study of one recently re-developed marketplace in northern Uganda, this study seeks to offer solutions to current problems. It does so through mixed methods, drawing on semi-structured interviews with vendors and officials, as well as a small-scale survey of 200 vendors operating in the regenerated space, between September 2015 and January 2016.

Analysis points to the challenges associated with reordering the economies, particularly the clarity of the interventions. It raises questions on the capacity of agencies and governments to control processes of local economic development.

Key findings

  • Interventions that fail to cohere with the realities of the local economy are likely to be met with disappointing results.
  • Economic spaces are an arena where power and politics plays out, which results in interventions becoming branded with the features of the local political context. 

Download the report from the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium's website.

Richard Mallett, Jimmy Opio and Teddy Atim