When a good policy goes bad

An analysis of framings and silences in Uganda’s 1995 National Environment Management Policy and effects on forest conservation

  • Stella Namanji College of Agriculture, Environmental and Natural Sciences, King Ceasar University P.O.Box 88, Gaba Road, Kampala Uganda


I critically analyze the Uganda National Environment Management Policy (NEMP) from 1995. The big question is why Uganda continues to experience tremendous loss of forest resources while the NEMP, which set strong objectives towards forest conservation and management, has been in effect for nearly three decades. I apply Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” ap-proach to unpack how the problem of forest and biodiversity loss is represented in the NEMP, the underlying presuppositions that enliven it, and the processes and practices that led to the pervasiveness of these problem representations. In addition, I identify the silences and effects of the problem representations and ways in which the policy has been disseminated, defended, or contested. I have found that the language in NEMP around defining sustainability, biodiversity conservation, institutional collaboration, public participation, and marketiza-tion largely aligns with language promulgated in international treaties and institutions like the Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO. The NEMP is therefore subject to the discursive critiques of these themes that scholars in various fields have developed in the past decades. While my analysis engages briefly with these critiques, my central argument centers on the active silences such as corruption and ignorance that underlie environmental injus-tices and that are worsening forest degradation. In conclusion, without ad-dressing these silences, the NEMP has little chance of slowing or reversing biodiversity loss.

Original Papers