Ambassador Jerry Lanier Visits Northern Uganda
During Ambassador Lanier’s first substantive visit to Northern Uganda, he highlighted the importance of the U.S. Government’s commitment to sustainable economic recovery and development by inaugurating the Agoro market and grain storage facility.
The Ambassador also signaled American support for Acholi cultural traditions by signing the Ambassador’s Fund Cultural Preservation grant to the Ker Kwaro Acholi Cultural Center. Then, he hosted the “Girls’ Kick It!” soccer team to discuss their recent exchange trip to the United States. Finally, the Ambassador delivered the key note address to villagers gathered at the PEPFAR-sponsored World AIDS Day community event in Palero.
Speaking in Agoro Sub-County at the inauguration of the newly renovated Agoro market, the Ambassador encouraged people in Northern Uganda to work towards shaping their own destiny through effective use of these new resources. The market and grain storage facility are just two of many activities totaling over $500,000 to improve the lives of the people of Agoro sub-county.
“The future of Uganda is in your capable hands for yourselves and for your children, of whom I see so many today; and looking around, I think that future is bright,” he said.
Mr. Lanier’s remarks come at a time when the U.S. Mission is injecting money in programs aimed at facilitating the recovery of Northern Uganda, demonstrating the unwavering support of the American people throughout the conflict that consumed the region.
Ambassador Lanier noted that today 70% of people in Agoro who were living in Internally Displaced Person camps have returned to their homes. Land is being opened and new seeds are being sown.
“The magnitude of this resettlement underscores the significant change that has occurred throughout northern Uganda – a shift from responding to an emergency situation to seeking development opportunities.” He added that the U.S. Government will remain committed to the region during this transition and beyond.
In Northern Uganda, The United States Government is working in close partnership with the Government of Uganda to implement transition and development programs consistent with the objectives and goals of the National Development Plan and the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. The U.S. Mission’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of local governments to provide social services and opportunities to the people of Northern Uganda. The focus is on rebuilding and expanding access to primary education, health services, good governance and improved livelihoods.
While in Gulu, the Ambassador hosted the “Girls Kick it!” soccer team, which participated in the U.S. State Department Soccer Sports Visitor “Sports United” program in October, to a breakfast event at Bomah Hotel. He observed that Northern Uganda currently faces many challenges and encouraged the team to use their sporting and leadership skills to be active players in its reconciliation and reconstruction phase so that real economic transformation can take place.
“As young people, I am confident you have the energy and drive to make this happen,” he said.
The past two decades of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency disrupted Acholi cultural life. An entire generation of young people has had no opportunity to know and practice their traditional culture. But the U.S. Government is now working with the Ker Kwaro Acholi Cultural Center to rectify the situation through a $56,200 project designed to assist in the preservation of Acholi cultural heritage.
“We are delighted that the Preserving Acholi Cultural Heritage proposal submitted by the Ker Kwaro Acholi was selected for funding under our Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation,” the Ambassador said during the signing ceremony.
The program is funded by the U.S. Congress and administered by the U.S. Department of State. It provides direct grant support for the preservation of significant cultural sites, objects and museum collections, and forms of traditional expression in developing countries in all regions of the world.
“We are glad to be working with the Ker Kwaro Acholi on this project. This project supplements other U.S. Government activities that support regional peace and stability, economic development, and investing in people in Uganda,” the Ambassador noted.
Finally, while opening the World AIDS DAY event in Palero, the Ambassador said fighting HIV and AIDS is a serious business and urged Uganda to take the lead in the fight, promising more support to Uganda.
“The United States is committed to working with our global partners to support Uganda's leadership in this effort.” He added, “Over the next five years, the United States will place a renewed emphasis on partnering with Uganda to build Uganda’s national HIV/AIDS response.”
The Ambassador’s visit to Northern Uganda demonstrated the American people’s unwavering commitment and broad engagement to help this region recover from decades of conflict.