Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown on Launch of 60th Anniversary Edition of Report to the Ugandan People “A Proven Partner Uganda Can Depend

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown on Launch of 60th Anniversary Edition of Report to the Ugandan People “A Proven Partner Uganda Can Depend On”

U.S. Embassy Kampala | February 8, 2023  (as prepared for delivery at the American Center, Kampala)

Good afternoon.  I am pleased to welcome you to the American Center for the launch of U.S. Mission in Uganda’s 60th anniversary edition of the Report to the Ugandan People.  This is the 6th consecutive annual report that chronicles the United States’ enduring partnership with the Ugandan people.  The Report to the Ugandan People highlights much of what the U.S. government does in Uganda, why we do it, and how we do it.

2022 R@UP Launch pic1I am pleased to be joined this afternoon by four senior members of the U.S. Mission Uganda team: Richard Nelson, Mission Director in Uganda for the U.S. Agency for International Development; Dr. Lisa Nelson, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention country office in Uganda; Mary Borgman, PEPFAR Country Coordinator, and Ellen Masi, the Embassy’s Public Affairs Counselor.  Before I invite Richard, Lisa, and Mary to speak more about the impact of U.S. assistance programs in Uganda, let me say a few words about this year’s report.

This year’s report is unique because we are not only highlighting our annual activities, but also the U.S. partnership with Uganda over the past 60 years.  Today, with the release of this 60th anniversary edition of the “Report to the Ugandan People,” we are proud to showcase some of the many accomplishments we have had in working together with Ugandans toward a more peaceful, prosperous, healthy, secure, and democratic future.  Our work — all our initiatives and programs — align with Uganda’s Vision 2040 – Uganda’s development plan.

In an era of misinformation and disinformation, where false claims about where U.S. assistance funding goes or how U.S. government funding is used, we want to be clear and transparent about U.S.-funded programs in Uganda.  That’s why we’ve prepared this report.  That’s why we’ve assembled U.S. Mission leadership team today to answer questions from the media.  I should note, however, you do not have to wait for the Report to come out each year.  The U.S. government’s website provides this information to anyone who wishes to see.

The 2022 Report to the Ugandan People is divided into five sections highlighting our work in key U.S. government assistance focus areas toward:  1) A Healthy Uganda; 2) A Prosperous Uganda; 3) A Secure Uganda; 4) A Just and Democratic Uganda; and 5) and A Skilled, Educated Uganda.  This Special Edition also includes a timeline highlighting key milestones in U.S.-Uganda relations over 60 years, a map demonstrating that U.S. programs reach Ugandans in every district across the country, and a spotlight on PEPFAR@20 – the 20th anniversary of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a transformative U.S. government initiative that has contributed over $100 billion dollars in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, including more than $5 billion in Uganda and ultimately keeping people alive to live their lives and bringing Uganda close to controlling this disease.

For much of Uganda’s 60 years of independence, the United States has been the country’s largest assistance partner.  That remains the case today.  In 2021, we provided assistance valued at $930 million dollars, or more than 3.4 trillion Ugandan schillings, for the Ugandan people and Ugandan communities.  In 2022, we provided assistance at similar levels, but exact funding figures are not yet complete.  While these figures are significant, the story of America’s partnership with the Ugandan people is not one of dollar figures, but of lives impacted.  You may not always see our flag on large buildings or billboards, but thanks to the United States’ investment, millions of Ugandans are living healthy, learning better, earning more, and participating more fully in their communities. 

Speaking of impacting lives, on January 21, we held a U.S. Mission Alumni Impact Awards gala as a way of honoring the impact of U.S. exchange program alumni over 60 years of the U.S.-Uganda relationship.  The event featured an illustrious group of Ugandans from across the country who participated in U.S. government exchange programs over the past six decades.  To date, more than 4,700 Ugandans have participated in U.S. government-supported exchange programs.  Some of them, like Joyce Mpanga, who was a Fulbright Scholar, studied in Indiana and later became Uganda’s first Minister of Women in Development.  She is featured in this report.  And some of you in this room, I believe, have participated in U.S.-government sponsored media reporting tours or media skill-building training the Embassy has supported.  From the first Ugandan Fulbright scholar to study in the United States in the 1950s, to the most recent cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows under the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), alumni of U.S. government supported exchange programs have made a significant impact in their respective sectors in Uganda, be it in business, academia, education, public management, civil society, the arts, medicine, public health, the media, and many more.

To give an example of the impact of U.S. assistance in Uganda, let’s look at the health sector.  Today, more than 1.3 million Ugandans living with HIV are receiving life changing ARV treatment through PEPFAR.  With ARV treatment, they can pursue their education, start a family, build a career, prevent further infection, and expect to enjoy a long, healthy life.  A research study shared at the PEPFAR Science Summit last week, shows that the tremendous scale up of PEPFAR-supported HIV treatment in Uganda since 2004 has averted almost 500,000 estimated HIV infections, including over 230,000 babies born infection free to HIV-positive mothers; and this investment prevented nearly 600,000 HIV-related deaths.

More broadly, the United States’ programming in the health sector has transformed Uganda’s ability to respond to numerous infectious diseases and other health challenges, from COVID-19 to the Ebola virus, as you will hear from Dr. Nelson.

Aside from the health sector, we know economic growth is key to improving livelihoods.  That’s why the United States supports Ugandan businesses and entrepreneurs.  With over 343 graduates of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs – AWE – we are empowering women business owners to turn their creative ideas into jobs for the community.  From Gulu and Mbarara to business owners in Jinja, Fort Portal, Mbale, and Kampala, we have seen over 280 of these women formally register their businesses, set up bank accounts, and join the formal economy.

The Report to the Ugandan People also highlights the values that underpin America’s partnership with Uganda.  First and foremost are the values of transparency and accountability, to both the American people and the Ugandan people.  Let me be clear every dollar the United States invests in Uganda is held to the highest standards of oversight.  Corruption is a significant challenge in Uganda and many countries throughout the world.  And we are not immune to it in the United States.  That’s why we have very rigorous processes in place for monitoring and evaluating how U.S. assistance funds are spent.  We have even suspended programs due to underperformance.  The United States strongly supports initiatives to promote financial transparency and accountability for the use of public resources, whether yours or ours.

Second, the United States believes civil society organizations play a critical role in supporting service delivery in health, education, and other sectors; in promoting accountability; in advocating for effective laws and policies; and in advancing the rights of marginalized people.  That’s why the vast majority of U.S. assistance in Uganda and elsewhere around the world is provided not to governments but implemented through partner organizations and civil society groups.  I am proud of the implementing partners and civil society organizations, many based in Uganda and Ugandan-led, with which we work that are reaching nearly every district across Uganda in the areas of health, education, democracy, and economic growth.  The back cover of the report lists 25 organizations we work with in Uganda, but there are many, many more.  Through the 13 U.S. government agencies that comprise U.S. Mission Uganda, we work with more than 100 partner organizations in Uganda.

Third, the United States believes that every country’s most valuable resource is its people.  That’s why the overwhelming majority of U.S. assistance to Uganda is focused on building human capacity so Ugandans have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to succeed not just today, but tomorrow:  skills and resources that will benefit not just themselves, but their families, their communities, and their country for many years to come.  You see this in U.S. government-supported exchange programs, like the Mandela Washington Fellowship.  You see this in programs like the YES Academy, which developed creative business and performance skills for young musicians.  And you see it in the U.S. Mission’s mobile education space – the Nile Explorer Bus – as it transverses the country bringing STEM- and health-focused learning activities to students across the country.

In short, we believe in investing in people, or as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained it to a small group of alumni last August when she visited Uganda, we focus on software – the critical systems that keep organizations and institutions running. By providing learning experiences, networks, and new perspectives through our programs, we believe that participants in our programs will use that experience to positively impact the communities in which they live and work AND THEY DO. 

Finally, the United States believes the assistance we provide Uganda today should not become a burden to the Ugandan people tomorrow.  That’s why the vast majority of United States assistance is direct to projects and not loans that must be paid back by future generations of Ugandans.  The only re-payment we look for from beneficiaries of U.S. assistance is that they “pay it forward” by applying the opportunities, knowledge, and tools gained through our programs to further the development of their communities and Uganda.

I am proud of the achievements outlined in this 60th anniversary edition of the Report to the Ugandan People.  The United States is a proven partner the people of Uganda can depend on.  As we reflect on 60 years of partnership with Ugandan communities, we commit our continued support to help build a healthier, more prosperous, and a brighter future, together!

With that, let me turn the floor over to Richard Nelson, USAID Mission Director in Uganda.  Richard, over to you.