USAID Director Henrietta Fore Visits Northern Uganda
Henrietta H. Fore, Administrator of USAID and Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance visited Uganda from March 12 -16, 2008. She is responsible for managing U.S. foreign assistance aimed at improving developing countries’ social, economic and political systems. In Uganda, U.S. assistance focuses on strengthening the conditions for peaceful development in post-conflict northern Uganda; promoting the institutionalization of multi-party democracy; addressing key health threats including malaria and HIV/AIDS; incorporating smallholder farmers into the value chain and protecting biodiversity in the environmentally threatened Albertine Rift and endangered areas of northern Uganda.
Ms. Fore’s main focus was on private-public partnerships and reintegration in northern Uganda. On March 14, she joined Ambassador Steven Browning at the grand opening of Uganda’s Kaniyo Pabidi Chimp Trekking Facility in Budongo Forest. USAID contributed $300,000 to the public-private partnership with Uganda’s National Forestry Authority, The Walt Disney Company, Jane Goodall Institute and Let’s Go Travel. The eco-tourism site includes a new visitor reception center, cabins for tourists, improvements to 20-kilometers of trekking trails, habituation of chimpanzees in the forest for viewing by tourists and improvements to the Busingiro Environmental Education Center.
“Uganda is a country with incredible natural beauty, bio-diversity and tourism potential,” said Fore. “This eco-tourism facility will generate approximately $350,000 to $400,000 per year from trekking and tourist accommodation fees, and is an example of how biodiversity conservation activities can contribute to economic growth, sustainable enterprise development, community participation and revenue sharing, while conserving a threatened great ape, the chimpanzee.”
Uganda State Minister for Environment Jessica Eriyo, who also attended the event, said, “The government is fully committed toward conserving natural forests and their bio-diversity to improve prospects for tourism services.” The Budongo Forest also provides incentives such as employment and education to the local people living on the forest borders. Other indirect benefits for locals will include the selling of handicraft and foods to the new tourism centre.
Later that day, Mrs. Fore and her delegation flew to Gulu to visit the Acholi Cultural Center, where she met with Chairman Nobert Mao and Colonel Walter Ochora, along with cultural and religious leaders including Rwot Acan, Bishops Onono and Ochala, and Sheik Khalil.
Administrator Fore expressed her happiness that northern Uganda is beginning a new chapter in its history after 22 years of conflict. She said that the United States Government is encouraged by the Government of Uganda’s commitment to the peace process, the signing of a cessation of hostilities, and to the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. She recognized the important role that local government, traditional leaders and religious leaders have played in the peace process and will continue to play in the long term recovery of the region and reconciliation of the country after so many years of conflict.
District political and traditional leaders took this opportunity to express their concerns and priorities for the region to the Administrator. The United States Government has been the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance in northern Uganda for many years. Last year, the USG provided $116 million toward the stability and reintegration of northern Uganda as it transitions from humanitarian assistance to long-term development.
Afterward, Ms. Fore visited the Te-tugu Internally Displaced Persons camp. She observed programs in the camp supported by President Bush's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and met with local officials and camp residents who are preparing to return to their home areas.
In a brief statement to the press, Ms. Fore said, "We are encouraged by the Government of Uganda's commitment to the peace process, the recent signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement, and to the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan to bring northern Uganda to the same level of development as the rest of the country. We are committed to supporting your government in this initiative. We know the road to recovery is a long one, and the American people are committed to helping the people of northern Uganda re-establish healthy, productive lives. The American people are with you and hopeful for a united prosperous Uganda."