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What We Meant For Good: Intentions and Consequences in Uganda
Council of Christian Colleges and Universities and International Justice Mission (2011)
  • David Brian Dennison, Uganda Christian University
  • Jeremy Akin

Non-governmental organizations, mission-sending agencies, and foreign aid programs often act with the best intentions and cause negative consequences. This phenomenon is especially pronounced in the context of “first world” efforts to positively impact societies in the developing world. For mission-minded Christians, the tragic failure of well-meaning efforts not only warrants careful reflection and Biblically grounded assessment.

Uganda is a hub of cross-cultural efforts. The country’s receptiveness to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), openness to Christian missionaries, and dependence on foreign aid make it a prime case study in the exportation of good intentions. This essay is not a detailed study based on hard data. Instead, it is a collection of pertinent observations from two individuals who have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand, participating in, and learning from well-intentioned efforts across Uganda.

In this paper, we suggest four typologies whereby the culture of external aid and assistance generates problems within the Ugandan context. The paper is structured according to each of these four typologies. The first section addresses the negative psychology and behavior that appears within a recipient culture. Secondly, we observe complications associated with the promotion of “pro-poor” economic models relating to land law and access to debt funding. The negative aspects of programmatic reconciliation form the focus of the third part, while the fourth critiques the use of Western style equality-based rights advocacy to champion women’s rights. Each section concludes with Biblically grounded recommendations for a path forward.

  • Development,
  • Uganda,
  • Transformative Justice,
  • Transitional Justice
Publication Date
April 8, 2011
Citation Information
David Brian Dennison and Jeremy Akin. "What We Meant For Good: Intentions and Consequences in Uganda" Council of Christian Colleges and Universities and International Justice Mission (2011)
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