Uganda On Track for Getting More Aid

Uganda On Track for Getting More Aid

Uganda is on track for getting more aid... What do the readers think about this?

By John Isingoma
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First published: June 7, 2006

In the last quarter of 2005, Uganda experienced numerous aid cuts from the donor community, which is headed by the World Bank. The reasons for the aid cut ranged from the arrest of Forum for Democratic Change President, retired Col. Kiiza Besigye, slow progress of the transition process to multiparty politics, to the donors dissatisfaction with the governments over expenditure on public administration.

The World Bank, Denmark, Britain, Norway and Sweden, part of the donor group who had always funded 52% of Ugandas national budget either cut aid or withheld it.

Britain alone cut 15 million pounds of aid and withheld 5 million pounds, citing the arrest of and trial of the opposition leader, Dr. Kiiza Besigye and curtailing the freedom of the press.

The Ugandan government responded by reducing expenditure across all sectors through cutting on ministerial travels and fuel among other measures. We have tried to spread cuts across so that we dont inflict too much cost on a sector, the Minister of Finance Dr. Ezra Suruma said during a press briefing in December.

However, the aid cuts came few months after the International Monetary Fund had just cancelled Ugandas debt worth US $126 million. Dr. Suruma said that IMF was satisfied with the countrys macroeconomic performance and that aid cuts by donors was uncalled for and he assured the nation that Uganda would still survive with or without donor money.

That wasnt an encouraging situation since many people know the importance of donor funding to Uganda and the fact that it is a vote on no confidence in Ugandas leadership by the international community. However, the first quarter of 2006 seems to reflect Uganda regaining donor confidence.

Just seven days into the New Year (2006), Uganda got US$ 84 million from the Africa Development Bank towards education and water sectors. US $56 million was approved for rural water supply and sanitation while US $28 million went for post-primary education and training.

Benedict Kanu the operations officer of ADB in Kampala said that the clean water programme would be implemented countrywide to provide communities with sanitation facilities in public places, schools and health centers, while the 28 million dollars under education would increase access to secondary school education and improve science teaching, support business and technical education.

According to the Uganda governments five-year plan (2005-2010), access to clean water is projected to reach 75% by the end of 2006. Currently over 65% of Ugandans, according to the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, have access to clean water up from 15% in 1986.

In the same month of January, the country received 140 million USD from East African Development Bank (EADB), 135 million USD from the World Bank and 57 million USD from Denmark. The money from EADB was meant to finance commercially viable enterprises in five different sectors of manufacturing, infrastructure development, tourism, and education among others.

The project officer EADB, Robert M. Murithi told Daily Monitor in an interview run in the daily monitor of Monday January 23, 2006 that the bank had provided financial support in loans to six schools including Green Hill Academy, Kampala Parents school, Taibah school, Kaboja Secondary School and other two schools from Mbarara district.

In the first week of February 2006, the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development announced they had received 13 million Euros, about Shs28 billions from the Spanish government towards rural electrification. The money was given to Uganda on concessional terms with 50% as grant and the rest as a loan. According to ministries of Energy and Finance, the money will be used to construct transmission lines in the central, western and northern regions of the country. This grant and loan from Spain comes at the time when the country is entangled in low electricity supply with a 12-hour load shedding schedule in Kampala and up to two days in the countryside. This affects the countrys productivity and threatens the fight against poverty due to lack of power, which is crucial for development.

The environment has also had its share in the 2006 funds to Uganda. African Development Bank in conjunction with the ministry of Water, Lands and Environment is putting up a 65 million USD environment project. The project, which is called the Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation, will focus on environment conservation on the farm.

Another environment related project funded in the year 2006 is a garbage recycling plant in Mukono funded by World Bank. USD 30,000 is going to be channeled through NEMA to build the plant, which is going to have two sections, one to make manure from garbage and another to recycle garbage into biogas. The mayor of Mukono Town Council, Johnson Muyanga Senyonga expressed gratitude to the World Bank for turning what has been a menace into profitable asset. He says that the district has already secured 10 acres of land on which to build the plant.

Other funds have been given to International and national NGOs operating in Uganda aimed at service delivery to the mostly rural poor communities. One such NGO is Save the Children in Uganda (SCiU), which unveiled a Shs 35 billion education program at the beginning of March for eight war affected districts of Uganda.

According to the national coordinator of Save the Children in Uganda, George Gena, the program will focus on increasing the number of children enrolled in primary schools in Gulu, Lira, Apac, and Pader districts of Northern Uganda and Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kyenjojo and Kabarole districts in western Uganda which suffered from Allied Democratic Forces rebels activities.

At the beginning of March, the French Government gave Uganda 2.4 million USD to purchase food for internally displaced persons in northern Uganda. According to the Deputy French Ambassador to Uganda, Chantal Bes, the donation through the World Food Program is part of a larger program of the French Government to support humanitarian efforts in Uganda. Last year the French Government gave 4.3 billion shillings to the World Food Program for the same purposes.

While receiving the funds, the World Food Program Country Director, Ken Noah Davies, said his organization needs an additional 40 million USD to adequately cater for the needs of internally displaced persons this year. He said that currently the World Food Program has supplies that will only last until May 2005.

Though Uganda is still under the watchful eye of the international donors and still suffering from the affects of aid cuts occasioned to her last year, the year 2006 has seen an increase in the release of funds. Over 500 million USD has already been given to the country, and since the reasons for aid cuts are getting knocked off the list of accusations one by one i.e. the release of Dr. Kiiza Besigye from prison and his involvement in the multiparty presidential elections, plus the trial process in the civilian courts of law, Uganda is likely to go back in the good books of donors and start receiving funding as had been the case, helping the countryfight poverty.

By John Isingoma
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First published: June 7, 2006
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John Isingoma is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. A social scientist by training, Isingoma is the Executive Secretary at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and after years training and practice in the media has become a dedicated writer and researcher.