SESSION 3: 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Panel D: Beyond Supply and Demand: The Search for Economic Justice

C103 Hesburgh Center

Moderator: Alejandro Estefan

Responding to the "Missing Middle:" Economic Development in Uganda

Marisa Perino, University of Notre Dame

The “missing middle” is an economic phenomenon in developing countries where communities have few available middle-class jobs.  Previously, I researched how the “missing middle” in rural Uganda affected post-graduate employment for secondary-schools.  In these areas, students graduate secondary-school with business skills but cannot use them because the available jobs either require a university degree, such as teaching, or are low-class labor jobs.  Thus, since families cannot afford university, the “missing middle” hinders Ugandan communities from developing.   

In response, this study will identify educational factors to fight the “missing middle” and improve post-graduate employment. I will do this by studying two Ugandan Holy Cross secondary-schools, Lakeview and St. Joseph’s Hill (SJH). I have chosen these schools because both suffer from the “missing middle” and are geographically and structurally similar.  Most importantly, while SJH struggles with the “missing middle,” Lakeview has successfully combatted it by implementing a labor-based curriculum that teaches trade skills like carpentry and weaving.  I hypothesize that this program has caused their increased post-graduate employment. 

This research will analyze Lakeview’s labor-based curriculum, which their principal states has allowed graduates to start their own businesses due to the combination of entrepreneurial skills and trade-based skills.   These start-ups then increase the amount of middle-class businesses which diminishes the “missing-middle.”  After analyzing the program, I will work with SJH staff to adapt and implement it. Finally, SJH will record future post-graduate statistics which will conclude whether Lakeview’s program truly combats the “missing middle,” if it can be adapted to other struggling schools.


China's Economic Development Strategy in East Africa

Joshua Fowler, Gonzaga University

Sino-East African infrastructure investment and international trade have reached record levels and garnered global interest in recent years. However, there is a lack of information and research on the local-level. By analyzing the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and the Damerjog Port-Ogaden Basin gas pipeline projects, this article discusses project-level details and their roles in China's development strategy in the region. Through analysis on bilateral trade and infrastructure development connectivity, this article determines the impacts on development and the interests of Sino-African trade and infrastructure investment in the region.



Climate change and a just transition: cooperative economics as a path to collective economic empowerment

Katherine Fugate, University of Notre Dame


Stealing From The Poor: The Middleman Menace Afflicting Small Holder Farmers in Rural Uganda

Trevor Lwere, University of Notre Dame

All across the world, smallholder farmers are arguably the most hardworking people on the planet, yet they make up a large chunk of the world’s poorest. Part of the problem is the nature of the agricultural marketing chain which largely disempowers farmers and exposes them to ruthless fangs of profit motivated traders who wield significant market power to influence market prices and determine the rewards they get for themselves and for the farmers who do the hard work. This exploitative arrangement is not only a distortion of economic rewards and incentives but also a violation of farmers’ economic rights.

In Uganda, agriculture accounts for 65% of national employment, with most rural families reliant on subsistence farming for a living. Small holder farmers in Uganda do not currently gain enough from the sale of their produce in part due to the structure of the agricultural marketing chain. The involvement of middlemen leaves farmers vulnerable to exploitation and consequently low prices leading to low incomes that cannot sustain a decent livelihood.

But how and by how much do middlemen distort economic rewards in the agricultural value chain? By comparing the various agricultural marketing systems used by farmers to sell their produce, this research sought to establish the quantitative monetary effect that different marketing systems have on the profit and income of small-hold rural farmers, particularly the loss incurred by working with middlemen.