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Country Director's New Year Message 2019



A very happy new year and welcome 2019 as another opportunity to serve the people of Uganda. It is my hope and prayer that over the last two weeks, you had a meaningful rest and connected with family and friends over the festive season. As we start this new year, allow me to communicate certain priorities for Action Aid Uganda and our partners. 

1.     Second Implementation Year of 5th Country Strategy Paper (5th CSP) – Strengthening Struggles for Social Justice: As we start this new year, we will need to have a keen eye on the implementation of 5th CSP ensuring all processes, structures and outcomes are aligned to the Strategy.  I once again call on everyone to ensure they are well versed with the 5th CSP and conduct all our businesses with it in mind. 

2.     Programme Quality Assurance and Performance Measurement: As noted in my end of year message, Action Aid Uganda is doing commendable programmatic work across our strategic priorities. Our work in governance/anti-corruption, youth, women rights and civil society is gaining recognition. In this year, we will need to prioritize activity implementation in line with approved workplans and budgets, as well as donor commitments. Through proper planning and activity scheduling, we should also deepen the quality of our programmes, policy engagements and products. While striving to minimize the red tape and paperwork, we will need to keenly emphasize the rigor of project and activity conceptualization and partnership building. In this year our newly designed performance management system will be fully used to document, analyze and report programme performance against agreed indicators. Finally, I expect us not only to maintain a presence, but provide robust leadership within the federation for example on the delegation on Shrinking Civic and Political Space, as well as on Federation-wide campaigns on SDGs, and Women’s right to labor, decent work and public services, the various platforms, among others. 

3.     Team Building and Staff Development: As we implement complex programmes that support the 5th Country Strategy Paper, we will need to build one team and prioritize staff development to deliver on their respective mandates. It is my hope that each staff will find 2019 an opportunity to grow their careers and personal fulfilment in AAU. As Country Director, I would like us to create an environment of mutual respect, integrity and excellence. Using the forthcoming staff retreat as an entry point, it is my hope that we will clarify our expectations of AAU that supports staff development and excellence. Thereafter, we will expect line managers to commit time to support the growth of their staff through regular providing opportunities to lead, feedback and timely performance appraisal.  I will keenly follow up with HROE on performance appraisals to ensure that they are completed timely and fairly. Kindly share any ideas you have on the All Staff Retreat with the HR and Administration Officer at by 12th January 2019.

4.     Leadership development: Related to the above, we will embark on a leadership development process through training, mentorship and coaching starting with a cohort (15-20) that we hope will position us to implement the 5th CSP, position AAU to provide meaningful leadership in Civil Society, as well as the Federation in line with the Organizational Strategic Priority of the 5th CSP.  

5.     Field Focus and Rootedness: We are all aware that our comparative advantage in championing social justice and fighting extreme poverty lies in our rootedness in the communities that we serve. We commend our LRPs and Clusters for being our foot soldiers in this endeavor, managing relationships with and expectations of communities, leaders and different partners – there is feeling that they are disproportionately carrying that burden. In this year, we will maintain a field focus for everyone especially ensuring the national staff provide support to the field. 

6.     Internal Governance of AAU: Being an organization that prides itself in championing good governance and social justice, we will be accountable to all internal governance organs and processes. At a minimum, this needs to be reflected in our prompt preparation for Board Committee meetings, Board meetings and the General Assembly. All the responsible staff will need prioritize preparation for these meetings to support he Board and GA in executing their governance functions. In particular, I will keep a keen eye on our compliance with internal and donor planning and reporting requirements. We will share the Board Calendar through a separate email. I would like to further reiterate that as a governance focused organization, we will continue to comply with all internal policies of AAU without any exception. Kindly let me know if you have any question or specific recommendations on any of the policies. 

7.     Fundraising and Financial Sustainability: While we made commendable progress in our fundraising efforts last year, we are entering this year drawing down on our reserves in a context where donor priorities are constantly changing. Therefore, in the short to medium term we will continue to prioritize fundraising in 2019 to ensure that our programmatic priorities and organizational structure in 5th CSP are fully covered. While the Fundraising Directorate will take leadership in this process, each of us has an important role to play in supporting them in writing concepts, drafting proposals or budgets, servicing the current donors, etc. In the long run, we need to significantly diversity funding sources and minimize overreliance on child sponsorship and institutional donors. 

8.     Global Secretariat (GS) Supported Process: In 2019, we will also continue to implement GS-supported processes and policies that allows for more efficient and effective operation and realization of our vision. The key processes for AAU include the Country Models Review, the Contracts Management Systems, among others. 

9.     Shrinking Political and Civic Space: Finally, I would like to remind you of the complexity in the operating context for civil society in Uganda, and a trend that is growing globally. All indicators show that in this year and subsequent years, these patterns are going to worsen. Considering this, we will continue to build individual and institutional resilience within AAU, as well as provide programmatic leadership within the Federation and civil society in pushing back on the shrinking space. When the legitimacy of our work is put to scrutiny, we have an opportunity demonstrate through our values and vision for advancing social justice and dignity of Ugandans living in extreme poverty. We each bear the responsibility of living those values.

Do not hesitate to get back to me if you have any questions related to this communique. 

Once again, I wish you all a fulfilling 2019!