kAMPALA- The US government last year spent a total of $896m (Shs3.3 trillion) in financial aid to Uganda to facilitate its health, agriculture, education and security programmes.
The contribution is a reduction from $971 million (Shs3.6 trillion) that was extended to the country in 2017.
More than half of the financial aid amounting to $511.2 (Shs1.9 trillion) was spent on the health sector, while peace, security and stability took $296.1m (Shs1.08 trillion).
Wealth creation and agriculture took $55.7m (Shs204b), followed by education at $20.1m (Shs73b), and democracy at $12.9m (Shs47.3b).
While presenting the fiscal year 2018 report to Ugandans yesterday in Kampala, Ms Deborah Malac, the US ambassador, said much of the US assistance to Uganda is dedicated to the health sector to aid the fight against HIV/Aids and other diseases.
“We also support programmes and initiatives that strengthen Uganda’s resources and capacity to limit the spread of other communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, and control outbreaks of infectious diseases,” she said.
Ms Malac said their funding does not go directly to the government, but is channelled through implementing partners who work directly with the communities they support.
Asked why they do not channel the funds through the government, Ms Malac explained that from past experiences, the funds were mismanaged and the only way to eliminate corruption is through channelling them directly to the recipients.
She said their focus is on youth and women who form the majority of the population of Uganda.
She noted that last year, the USAID’s Youth Leadership in Agriculture activity provided benefits to more than 89,000 Ugandan youth through entrepreneurship opportunities.
“Nearly 80 percent of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30 years, making the country one of the youngest in the world by population. Similarly, the report highlights our efforts to support women. No nation can become a vibrant middle-income country if it leaves half of its population out of the development equation,” she explained.
Ms Malac said the US government places special emphasis on agriculture because it employs the largest percentage of Ugandans.
“Our assistance looks to realise a better economic future for the next generation by strengthening agriculture. Our assistance programmes improve productivity, create jobs, and increase revenues for farmers and agricultural companies,” she said.
“We are also working to increase U.S. private sector Investment in Uganda, thereby creating jobs in key sectors such as technology, health, manufacturing, services, and agriculture,” she added.
About the GMO Bill
Ms Malac said the US government is disappointed by President Museveni’s failure to assent to the Biosafety Bill.
“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there and confusion between the products and that kind of research, science and the technology that is used to create that kind of products.”
She said those opposed to the Bill are acting out of emotions and that research by Ugandan scientists will go to waste if Parliament does not pass the Bill into law.
“We hope that there will be some discussions about the science and technology to understand the benefits that it does have and not allow to have conversation that follow emotions and misinformation that is circulating,” she added.
About the country’s politics, Ms Malac clarified that the US government will not support any candidates or political parties during campaigns.
Reports had indicated that US Senators Coon Christopher and Chris Van Hollen met Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi and pledged to support his presidential bid.
Ms Malac said meeting MP Kyagulanyi would not be unique because they always meet different groups of people.