Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown on Launch of the 2021 Report to the Ugandan People
(as prepared for delivery at the American Center, Kampala)
U.S. Embassy Kampala
Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be with you today for the launch of the U.S. Mission in Uganda’s 5th annual Report to the Ugandan People. I am pleased to be joined this morning by two senior members of the U.S. Mission team: Richard Nelson, Mission Director in Uganda for the U.S. Agency for International Development and Dr. Lisa Nelson, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office in Uganda. Before I turn the floor over to Richard and Lisa to speak more about the impact of U.S. assistance programs in Uganda, let me say a few words about the 2021 Report to the Ugandan People.
The 2021 Report to the Ugandan People explains what the U.S. government does in Uganda, why we do it, and how we do it. The Report tells the story of the United States’ enduring partnership with the Ugandan people and of our joint efforts to promote economic growth and employability, improve health and education, strengthen democratic values, and enhance security.
For much of Uganda’s 59 years of independence, the United States has been the country’s largest assistance partner. That remains the case today. In 2020, we provided assistance valued at 953 million dollars, or nearly 3.4 trillion Ugandan schillings, for the Ugandan people and Ugandan communities. In addition, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has provided assistance valued at more than 122 million dollars specifically to support Uganda’s COVID response and donated just over 9.4 million COVID vaccine doses to help keep the Ugandan people healthy and bring this pandemic to an end.
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. And what we know today is that millions of ordinary Ugandans are living healthier, learning better, earning more, and participating more fully in their communities because of this partnership. To give just two examples: Today, approximately 1.2 million Ugandans living with HIV are receiving life changing ARV treatment thanks to the generosity of the American people. 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. Individually, this assistance has changed more than a million lives for the better. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of these people – young and old – and they impressed me by how they contribute to their communities, amplifying the U.S. investment in them. 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 Ebola to COVID-19.
Away from the health sector, we know economic growth is key to improving livelihoods. That’s why the United States supports Ugandan businesses and entrepreneurs. U.S. investments in Uganda’s coffee sector, for example, helped Uganda achieve record earnings of 500 million dollars from coffee exports in 2020 while supporting more women and youth to join the sector. For example, the Ankole Coffee Cooperative, founded in 2006 with assistance from USAID, now has over 10,000 members, of which at least 30 percent are women.
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. Every dollar the United States invests in Uganda is upheld to the highest standards of oversight. Corruption is a significant challenge in Uganda and many countries throughout the world. That’s why we have very rigorous processes in place for monitoring and evaluating how U.S. assistance funds are spent. More generally, the United States strongly supports initiatives to promote financial transparency and accountability for the use of public resources.
Second, as this report indicates, the United States also values participatory development. It’s critical that beneficiaries of U.S. assistance actively participate in those programs. That’s why we launched independent, community-led monitoring of programming through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, that has allowed ordinary Ugandans and local communities to directly shape the HIV/AIDS activities supported by the United States in Uganda. Through this process, communities’ voices are supported by unbiased, deliberate, and data-driven advocacy. For example, community feedback has resulted in the expansion of a program designed to help young women live safe, productive, and AIDS-free lives in urban areas like Kampala, and increased focus on community-led treatment literacy and multi-month ARV dispensing.
Third, 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 new 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 many implementing partners and civil society organizations with whom we work who are reaching nearly every district across Uganda in the areas of health, education, democracy, and economic growth.
Fourth, 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.
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 United States provides assistance, 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.
In spite of the challenges presented by COVID since early 2020, I am proud of the tangible and, in many respects, remarkable, achievements outlined in this year’s Report to the Ugandan People.
With that, let me turn the floor over to Richard Nelson, USAID Mission Director in Uganda. Richard, over to you.