Warren Nyamugasira

Warren Nyamugasira by Robby Muhumuza

The death of Warren Nyamugasira, Acting Executive Director of DRT (Development Research & Training), on January 4th, 2016 has robbed Uganda, and indeed Africa, of a most eminent African development activist.

Warren was a development economist with over 35 years of experience in development work at various levels from project development, to programme management and non-governmental organization management at National Director level on the Africa continent.


Warren Nyamugasira

He excelled at advocacy, especially engaging aid donors and holding African governments accountable for equitable use of tax and donor aid. He was a passionate and articulate thinker and writer on development resource allocation for the social sector fields of education, health and agriculture. His biggest contribution was mobilizing over 600 Ugandan civil society organizations under the NGO Forum and building up their advocacy capacity so that it became a force to be reckoned with by both the Government of Uganda and the donor community.

Born in June 1956 in Kabale District to David Karamagi and the late Jaires Karamagi he studied at Kihanga Primary School and Kigezi High School. In 1975 he joined Makerere University, graduating with a BA in Economics. He had a go-getter pioneering spirit. Having been an active member of the Christian Union at Makerere, his first job in 1978 was as the Travelling Secretary of Scripture Union, Uganda. “I remember Warren, with his Afro hair and bell-bottom trousers, strumming his guitar in a meeting hall full of girls of the Scripture Union Club at Bweranyangi Girls School,” recalls Anne Muhumuza, then a student at that school. After Amin’s fall in 1979, Warren was busy traversing the potholed roads of Uganda reviving struggling S.U. Clubs in secondary schools all over the country. After further studies at All Nations Christian College in the UK, he returned to Uganda in 1982 and worked as Organizing Secretary of S.U. until 1986.

When the NRA took over power in Uganda after a protracted 5 year guerrilla war, the theatre of war was left devastated. Relief and development organizations started flocking into the country. Warren moved from Scripture Union and joined World Vision International (Uganda) as its first Operations Director. He was responsible for setting up the initial relief and resettlement projects in towns in the former Luwero Triangle.

When World Vision Uganda won a World Bank-funded PAPSCA (Programme of Alleviation of Poverty and Social Costs of Adjustment) in 1990, Warren became its Programme Manager overseeing multi-million education, health, agriculture, micro-business and AIDS Orphans support projects in Rakai, Masaka, Masindi, Gulu and a Child Survival Project funded by USAID in Bundibugyo district. After study leave for an M Sc in Social Policy Development and Management from Swansea University he pioneered the setting up of a Public Policy and Advocacy Unit at World Vision Uganda.

Following the 1994 genocide he moved to Rwanda and set up the World Vision Rwanda Country Programme, leading it as its National Director. He later returned to Uganda to take charge of the NGO Forum as Executive Director.  He served as a Commissioner on the Uganda Process of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APR) representing civil society and as a Board Member and Civil Society Advisor to the Commonwealth Foundation.

In 2008 he moved to Cape Town as Managing Director of Africa Monitor. A regular newspaper contributor on development issues, he was an ardent writer on development and policy advocacy, contributing to journals and books. A friendly, courteous and generous person, he contributed immensely to the construction of Nyarurambi Church of Uganda in his home village. He is survived by one son, two daughters and two grandchildren.

Robby Muhumuza, a former Director of World Vision, Uganda, is a Management Consultant who also teaches at Uganda Christian University.