Uganda is to receive from the EU, under an Africa, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) programme, €8 million (about US $10 million) to fight poverty and build civil society institutions. Uganda thus becomes the first country eligible for funding under the ACP programme, which supports local civil society institutions to get funding for poverty alleviation that is directed "from the ground up".
The head of the EU delegation in Uganda, Sigurd Illing, and Finance Minister, Gerald Sendaula, signed the four-year financing agreement in the capital, Kampala, on Thursday. Sigurd said Uganda was first because, "while most of he ACP countries were hesitant to ask for funding for Civil Society Organisations [CSOs], the Ugandan government came up with a more comprehensive programme."
Warren Nyamugasira, the head of Uganda's CSO, an umbrella organisation of NGOs and community based groups, pledged that the funds would be used to support local government programmes.
According to the international organisation, CARE, some 38 percent of Uganda's population of 26.4 million live below the poverty line. In some regions, the figure is much higher. In the north, for example, 63 percent of the population lived in absolute poverty, CARE said.
Sigurd, however, added that there had been reservations about putting Uganda first, stemming from prevailing widespead corruption, which was "still very much alive".
He said the funding was from the European Development Fund, according to new provisions of the Cotonou Agreement (signed in Benin in 2001), which aims to promotes the integration of "non-state actors" (civil society) as full partners in the EU-ACP cooperation, involving 77 ACP states and 15 EU member states.
Uganda, which is ranked high on international indices amongst the world's most corrupt countries, joined the ACP-EU cooperation in 1975 upon signing the first Lome Convention, but lost much of that support during the brutal rule of the late dictator, Idi Amin Dada, which lasted from 1971 until 1979.
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