The Local Government Structure

Uganda has been pursuing a major decentralization programme since the late 1980s. A highly
centralized state is gradually turning into a decentralized one following the transfer of powers, functions
and services from central government to local councils.

The local government system is based on the district as a unit under which there are lower local
governments and administrative units. Local government councils in a district are:

(a) the District or City Council
(b) the Municipal Council
(c) the City Division Council
(d) the Municipal Division Council
(e) the Sub-County Council
(f) the Town Council

Administrative unit councils in a district are:

(a) the County Council
(b) the Parish or Ward Council
(c) the Village Council

There are distinct differences between local government councils and administrative unit councils. A
local government council is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. It may
sue or be sued in its corporate name. Each local government council has a directly elected chairperson,
directly elected councilors representing demarcated electoral areas, two councilors (one male, one
female) representing the youth, two councilors (one male, one female) representing persons with
disabilities and women councilors forming one third of the council. Additionally, every lower local
government council has two elderly persons (one male, one female) above the age of fifty five years
nominated by the respective executive committee for approval by the respective council. A speaker,
elected from among the members presides at council meetings.

Every local government council is obliged to appoint an executive committee, which committee is
chaired by the Chairperson. It is the responsibility of the executive committee to initiate and formulate
policy for approval by the council; monitor and oversee the implementation of policies and
programmes; and recommend to the council persons to be appointed members of statutory
commissions, boards and committees. Local government councils also have standing committees,
which make detailed consideration of proposals and recommendations.

An administrative unit council is not a corporate body. Its functions are to resolve problems or
disputes monitor the delivery of services and assist in the maintenance of law, order and security.

Administrative unit councils at the county level consist of all members of the subcounty executive
committee in the county; at the parish level, all members of the village executive committees in the
parish; and at the village, all persons of eighteen years of age or above residing in the village. In
addition, administrative unit councils have exofficio members - at the county, all district councilors
representing electoral areas in the county and at the parish, all sub-county councilors representing
electoral areas in the parish. Meetings of an administrative unit council, unlike the meetings of a local
government council, are presided over by the Chairperson.

The village and parish administrative units are required to have an executive committee. A county
council cannot, however, establish or appoint an executive committee in its true meaning. Instead, the
county council elects a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson from among its members.

Local government and administrative units are collectively known as local councils. Local councils are
further classified as either rural or urban:

Local Councils:

Rural Local Councils
District Council
County Council
Sub-County Council
Parish Council
Village Council

Urban Local Councils
City Council
City Division Council
Municipal Council
Municipal Division Council
Town Council
Parish or Ward Council
Village Council

A central feature of Uganda’s decentralization is that local councils are responsible for the delivery of
the majority of public functions and services. There is also, in the second schedule to the Local
Government Act, a listing of functions and services to be carried out by each local council.

The district, which is the basic unit of local government, is responsible for major functions and
services previously carried out by the central government. District councils are responsible for
functions and services including but not limited to: primary, secondary, trade, special and technical
education; hospitals other than hospitals providing referral and medical training; health centers,
dispensaries and aid posts; the construction and maintenance of feeder roads; the provision and
maintenance of water supplies; agricultural extension services, land administration and surveying; and
community development.

Urban councils are responsible for service delivery in urban areas and they enjoy both financial and
planning autonomy.

SOURCE: United Nations Public Adminstration Network
Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc.