KAMPALA, February 9, 2010—Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on February 8 launched the Second Northern Social Action Fund (NUSAF II), aimed at improving access for beneficiary households and communities in Northern Uganda to income earning opportunities and improved basic socio-economic services.
The project will support the poor to mobilize in livelihood-oriented groups and business organizations for household income enhancement. It will also support the rehabilitation of public socio-economic infrastructure in underserved communities.
According to President Museveni, the US$100 million follow-up project to NUSAF II will support the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP) in the 40 affected districts of Acholi, Bukedi, Bunyoro, Elgon, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile regions.
Under NUSAF I, the government built 2,693 classrooms, 40 dormitories, 63 science laboratories, nine libraries, 20 nurseries, 19 vocational skills training centers and 1,221 houses for teachers. The new credit will use the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach, disbursing funds through local governments.
“The fund will consolidate the human development efforts of the people of Northern Uganda and increase the scope for broader, more sustainable development,” the president said.
According to Ms. Jane Rintoul, DFID Head of Office in Uganda, NUSAF II represents the single biggest development partner investment in Northern Uganda. She said her organization is pleased to be a contributor to the fund.
“The British government is committed to helping secure lasting peace, recovery and development in Northern Uganda,” Rintoul said. “For this reason we have agreed to make a contribution through the World Bank of a £24 million (72 billion Ugandan Shillings) grant to the program.”
Rintoul added that the British government has been a significant donor in Northern Uganda and that for this particular program the funds will target the creation of economic, social and political opportunities that improve the lives of people affected by conflict and maximize the benefits of peace and national reconciliation.
During the launch, President Museveni asked donors to fund projects that can be used by beneficiaries to generate wealth instead of focusing on social services only.
“My real projects for the north include the US$1.3 billion (two trillion Ugandan shillings) Karuma hydro-power dam,” he said. “It will be funded by the Ugandan Government, and whoever wants to join us should come in according to our terms.”
World Bank Country Director for Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania Mr. John McIntire cautioned the government against corruption tendencies. He pointed to accountability challenges under NUSAF 1, which was characterized by the failure of some local governments to manage resources.
“The World Bank Board’s policy has zero tolerance for corruption,” McIntire said, adding that the World Bank Board together with the relevant offices of Government will be closely monitoring the NUSAF II program.
According to McIntire, under NUSAF II, Government and World Bank teams will pay special attention to mechanisms for improving transparency and accountability, including the suspension of disbursements to districts where cases of corruption are reported. Culprits, he said, will be investigated and prosecuted.
“In this regard, the World Bank intends to increase its field presence in Northern Uganda by setting up an office to ensure that all World Bank programs achieve their intended purpose,” he said.
McIntire acknowledged that although social and economic development in Northern Uganda has been a challenge, peace in the region has become a reality.
“I commend the government and the people of Uganda for the continued progress in ensuring peace and security in Northern Uganda,” he said. “The prevailing stable environment in the whole country provides an opportunity for economic growth and development for Uganda.”
In addition to the NUSAF II project, Museveni highlighted a second major project aimed at boosting production in the north of Uganda.
With the help of the World Bank, the Gulu-Atyak-Bibia road, the Arua-Koboko-Oraba road, the Muyembe-Namalu-Nakapiripirit-Moroto road and the road from Masindi Port through Apac to Kitgum all will be tarmacked.
Museveni also noted that social infrastructure has been inadequate in boosting the government’s development programs He listed, among others, the lack of homes for teachers and health workers, which makes it difficult for employed staff to deliver quality and timely services.
“In this year, I have commissioned a countrywide campaign to build teachers’ and health workers’ houses within the schools and hospitals respectively,” Museveni said. “I call upon the World Bank to support this initiative especially in the Northern region as the government mobilizes more resources for the rest of the country.”
According to the President, the Government also is in discussions with the government of Southern Sudan to extend the railway line from Gulu to Juba.
“I have instructed the construction brigade of the army to develop a railway building capacity to do some of these projects cheaply because we are tired of the problems and excuses we always get.”