U.S Assistance Transforming Northern Uganda in 2008
U.S. Government assistance in northern Uganda is aimed at bringing peace, security, and development to areas deeply affected by the 23 years of conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda. In 2008, USAID provided over $136 million to open roads; deliver services to prevent, treat and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; rebuild the agriculture sector; increase access to clean water; improve the quality of education; build the capacity of local government; assist with the reintegration of former combatants; and conduct health-related research. U.S. assistance transitioned from relief to development when improved security conditions allowed nearly 80 percent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to or near their homes. The transformation in three years has been dramatic: land is being cultivated; livestock numbers are increasing; and children can safely walk back and forth to school without fear of abduction. USAID's opening of its Northern Uganda Office in Gulu in June 2007 symbolizes our commitment to transition from humanitarian relief to recovery and development activities in northern Uganda. We are the only bilateral donor with an office in the north. By being on the ground, the U.S. Government, through USAID and other agencies, is well-placed to continue assisting the Government of Uganda (GOU) and the people of northern Uganda to emerge from what was once dubbed "the world's worst forgotten humanitarian crisis."
Peace and Security
The U.S. Government's peace and security agenda seeks to ensure that the changed circumstances on the ground in northern Uganda will make it increasingly difficult for the parties to return to war. USAID has played a lead role in supporting the GOU's Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP), the key policy framework for the rehabilitation of northern Uganda. USAID has taken a leadership role in shaping the views of donors and other UN agencies through its chairmanship of the Northern Uganda Recovery and Development (NURD) donor group. Mission personnel work closely with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to coordinate development partner support for and increase awareness and effectiveness of the PRDP among line ministries, local governments and civil society. Our efforts include:
- Support for the Government's meetings with parliamentary committees, line ministries and local governments, and advancing the PRDP process to mainstream its activities in all sector and district programs.
- Formed 108 Peace Committees in Pader District to address community conflicts on land, reconcile differences within communities, and relieve local governments of the burden of resolving these conflicts.
- Supported radio programs using music, dance and drama groups to promote a culture of peace while dealing with other conflict issues, such as land disputes and domestic violence.
- Supported transitional justice through consultations on the International Crimes Bill with government and civil society leaders in the north and west, to ensure awareness and participatory feedback of this important legislation.
Governing Justly and Democratically
Our democracy and governance agenda is aimed at protecting human rights, reintegration of former combatants and abductees, re-establishing rule of law and a civilian judicial system, and providing capacity-building for local governments. USAID programs supported these objectives through improving local governance, civil society participation in decision-making, parliamentary involvement, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in northern Uganda society. Our activities included:
- Facilitation of the reintegration of 435 amnestied ex-combatants and abductees and their reintegration into society through the provision of reinsertion kits, including basic necessities like hoes, seeds and cooking pots.
- Training of elected local councillors and local government staff from four northern districts in the new Standard Rules of Procedure for Local Government Operation in a multiparty environment, increasing understanding of local government operations, decreasing meeting times, and reducing open conflict in local councils.
- Training for 589 civil society representatives in PRDP districts on the structure, functions, and operations of local governments, promoting service delivery, democratic participation, transparency and accountability.
- Support for regional consultative workshops for 257 civil society representatives to engage in the national land policy development process. Civil society organizations developed a joint statement for the National Land Conference.
- Promotion of democratic procedures within two major political parties in the north, development of proposed reforms to party constitutions, and streamlining operations.
Investing in People: Health, HIV/AIDS, and Education
Programs to promote the health and well-being of Ugandans also support our objectives to improve governance at the local level. In FY 2008, USAID provided local governments with technical and financial support to directly implement activities to provide HIV, Tuberculosis, and malaria health services. These programs also worked through civil society organizations and non-government organizations to serve people in the most difficult to reach areas of IDP return. Our objectives in education include revitalizing service delivery with a focus on community engagement, teacher education and enhanced school management. Our engagement resulted in:
- The northern Uganda Education Summit, which brought together the political, administrative and educational leaders of the 40 PRDP districts, to create a blueprint with costs for education in northern Uganda. The Ministry of Education and Sports adopted the blueprint and submitted to the President's Cabinet for endorsement.
- Enhanced leadership and governance of the decentralized school system by working with district-level interventions in over 1,700 government primary schools and four core Primary Teacher Colleges in northern Uganda.
- Training of nearly 1,100 people in northern Uganda under the President's Malaria Initiative on indoor residual spraying (IRS) program, helping to protect nearly 2,100,000 citizens against malaria.
- Support for pharmaceutical management training for health workers in Gulu and Kitgum districts (58 staff comprising dispensers, storekeepers and facility in-charges) and follow-up visits in Oyam, Amuru, Gulu and Kitgum districts.
- Sensitization of over 100 district leaders on malaria control service delivery in northern Uganda.
- Increased access to short-term contraceptive methods through social marketing program to meet the high unmet need for family planning and child spacing in the northern Uganda districts through drama performances and dissemination of print and radio materials in three local languages. Radio spots and mini-dramas alone reached an estimated 168,000 people (78,000 women and 90,000 men).
- Conduct of over 1,500 men-only family planning seminars in three focus districts of northern Uganda.
- Training of over 500 health workers in routine counseling and testing and TB/HIV collaborative activities. As a result, over 55% of all TB registered cases were tested for HIV. Over half of TB/HIV co-infected patients were enrolled on co-trimoxazole prophylaxis.
- Provision of voluntary counseling and testing for HIV for over 75,000 people in over 100 sites in northern Uganda.
- Assistance for nearly 3,700 pregnant women in northern Uganda in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
- Provision of anti-retroviral therapy to over 18,400 people in northern Uganda.
- Supply of HIV/AIDS reading kits to all primary schools in the 40 PRDP districts, which helped to improve reading skills and change behavior related to HIV/AIDS.
Promotion of Economic Growth and Opportunity
U.S. Government economic development programs in Uganda aim to diversify agriculture, promote exports, improve productivity and protect one of the world's most biologically diverse ecosystems. The agricultural sector employees 70% of the Ugandan workforce and interventions in these areas create strong opportunities to boost rural incomes and promote exports. This is critical in northern Uganda, where 80% of the internally-displaced persons have returned to or near their homes. In northern Uganda, USAID focuses on agriculture to improve sustainable economic opportunities, livelihoods, food production, consumption and sales among smallholder farming households. Our impact on agricultural activities includes:
- Strengthening of 22,000 households through work with producer groups, women gardening groups, high-value agricultural value chains, access to capital investment funds and access to agriculture inputs.
- Provision of 130,000 smallholder farmers with short-term agricultural productivity training, improved market infrastructure and agricultural demonstration plots and tree farms.
- Support for the establishment of over 1,100 producer organizations in northern Uganda, helping to improve private sector competitiveness and food security.
Access to clean water is essential for the agricultural sector as well as the health and well-being of Ugandans. USAID's Global Development Alliance with Coca Cola helped thousands of northern Ugandans access clean water. Results included:
- Installation of 21 boreholes and construction of seven ventilated pit latrines in and around schools northern Uganda for use by students.
- Trained water user committees to oversee fees collection and maintenance, benefiting over 30,000 people in seven locations in northern Uganda.
Environmental conservation is a key U.S. Government priority. USAID advanced biodiversity conservation in northern Uganda through the implementation of a community-based conservation program and working with GOU entities on wildlife conservation and socio-economic development. Results include:
- Increased protection of biodiversity hotspots through the involvement of local communities in decision-making, practical action, monitoring and oversight of law enforcement to increase the protection of areas of biodiversity significance.
- Increased understanding of environmental issues in the younger generation of northern Uganda through the provision of environmental education materials and appropriate training to primary school teachers in environmental sciences.
- Facilitation of two agreements between the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) that outline responsibilities for protection of areas in northern Uganda.
- The U.S. Government supports agricultural activities with small scale farmers and their communities. USAID's Food for Peace activities in northern Uganda focused on improved food security, access to safe water and improved sanitation and hygiene. Results include:
- Training of nearly 130,000 people in agriculture interventions, which focused on productivity through better farm management, improved inputs, integrated pest management, and preservation of soil fertility.
- Explanation of the agriculture interventions provided to district government representatives, local political leaders and United Nations agencies coordinating humanitarian assistance.
Looking Ahead: U.S. Engagement Will Continue
We believe our careful and coordinated targeting of USAID assistance has resulted in our ability to achieve lasting results in post-conflict northern Uganda's transformation. Through the continuation of focused humanitarian and development interventions, the U.S. Government, through USAID programming, is well placed to continue meeting the needs of the people of northern Uganda. We will continue to use USAID's integrated strategic framework developed as a guide for the planning and implementation of development programs to support the peace process; facilitate the return of IDPs; reintegrate former combatants; develop the local economy; support local government and private sector service delivery; improve the health and well-being of northern Ugandans and mitigate against future conflict.