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Minister of State Joe McHugh to visit Uganda and launch new five year strategy for Ireland in Uganda

Poverty, News/feature, Africa, Uganda, 2016

Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh TD, has departed today for a three day visit to Uganda, his first visit to Africa in his new role. The itinerary will include a visit to Karamoja in the north east of Uganda, which is a particular focus of the Irish Aid programme; a visit to a refugee settlement in Adjumani, near the border with South Sudan; and the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda’s Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

A centrepiece of Minister McHugh’s visit will be the launch of Ireland’s new five year strategy for engagement with Uganda. The strategy provides a framework for Irish Aid support for poverty reduction in Uganda, amounting to an envisaged €82.9 million over the period 2016-2020, and will also have a focus on building trade, political, cultural, and people-to-people links.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Minister McHugh said:

“Ireland and Uganda have a long history of partnership stretching across many decades. This partnership has its roots in the work of Irish missionaries, who created strong bonds between our two peoples. Since 1994, the Irish Government has had a significant bilateral aid programme in Uganda and made a lasting contribution to the country’s development.

“Over the coming five years, we will redouble our efforts to support the poorest and most vulnerable to work their way out of poverty – targeting our interventions in the areas of education, social protection, preventing HIV/AIDS, and promoting human rights and good governance. In line with our commitment to reaching the poorest, close to half of our funding will be spent in the north-eastern sub-region of Karamoja, where poverty rates are higher than anywhere else in Uganda. The Irish Aid programme aligns with Uganda’s Second National Development Plan, and will be implemented through trusted partners, with strong accountability, in close cooperation with the Ugandan Government.

“During my visit, I look forward to meeting both the organisations that work with us in the implementation of Ireland’s development programme and also the direct beneficiaries of the programme – including people living with HIV, elderly recipients of the Senior Citizens Grant, children who are supported to attend school, and South Sudanese refugees who have fled to Uganda. I will also discuss with Uganda’s Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development how Ireland and Uganda can work together towards attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Highlighting the Government’s commitment to increasing trade and investment links between Ireland and Uganda, Minister McHugh said:

“Ireland’s bilateral ties with Uganda now cover many areas – political, economic, development and cultural. There is potential to strengthen our trade with Uganda and the East African Community in a range of areas, such as agribusiness, aviation, construction and engineering. I look forward to discussing opportunities for deepening economic relations with representatives of the Irish Business Network in Uganda, and also with the Uganda Investment Authority.”

Minister McHugh will also meet with representatives of the Irish Society in Uganda and will discuss approaches to diaspora engagement with the Ugandan Foreign Ministry. The Minister said:

“Given Ireland’s long history of emigration, relations with our diaspora have always been central to Ireland politically, economically and socially. The same applies to many countries in Africa, including Uganda, which has expressed interest in learning from our experience of diaspora engagement. I also look forward to meeting members of Uganda’s Irish community and hearing their perspectives on how relations between Ireland and Uganda can be further strengthened.”

Notes to Editor

• Minister Joe Mc Hugh’s programme runs from Saturday 9th until Monday 11th July.
• Irish Aid is the Government’s development cooperation programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
• The Government launched a bilateral aid programme in Uganda in 1994 with the opening of the Embassy in Kampala.
• The overarching goal of the development programme is that poor, vulnerable and marginalized individuals are better able to attain a decent living in line with Uganda’s Second National Development Plan. It has a strong focus on Karamoja, the poorest area of Uganda, where more than three-quarters of the population live in chronic poverty. The programme budget for 2016 is €16.2 million. The indicative budget for the full period of the five year strategy is €82.9 million.
• Irish Aid funding will not, in the main, be channelled through Ugandan Government systems; however, Ireland will work very closely with the Ugandan Government in implementation of the programme.
• Ireland’s merchandise trade with Uganda in 2015 was just under €16 million