This week marks USAID’s 60th anniversary: Uganda has been a part of USAID’s journey, just as USAID has been a part of Uganda’s journey since the country’s independence.
By Richard Nelson, the USAID Mission Director in Uganda
I stepped onto
Ugandan soil as the new Mission Director for the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) in January 2020 -- 58 years after
the first USAID officer came to Uganda.
week marks USAID’s 60th anniversary: Uganda has been a part
of USAID’s journey, just as USAID has been a part
of Uganda’s journey since the country’s independence. For much of
this time, the United States has been Uganda’s leading foreign assistance
Through USAID alone, the American
people have extended a hand to the Ugandan
people -- as depicted by the clasped hands in our
logo -- by investing over $9 billion to support Uganda's
trip in Uganda was to visit a USAID project in the
Southwest working with a group of teenage girls who had dropped out
of school, were vulnerable to high levels of poverty, and risked
exposure to HIV. The program was teaching the girls livelihood skills
to help them be self-sufficient. Several of the girls proudly displayed
what they had produced and were selling -- beautiful baskets, well-tailored
clothing, and high-grade fruits and vegetables.
A few of the girls had even
formed a food catering company. I loved that this
was one of the first projects I visited, because it captured the essence of
USAID/Uganda. We partner with Ugandans to strengthen the most vulnerable,
primarily children, youth, and women, in ways that bring long-lasting change.
We know that if people can be healthy, can increase their knowledge, and have
access to resources and government services, they can create productive lives
that strengthen the entire economy. And if that can be coupled with social
equity and respect for human rights, Uganda will become a beacon of opportunity
for all of Africa.
is one of the largest employers in Uganda, funding salaries of 5,700
people, and contributing 1.7% to Uganda’s GDP. Our programming
spans agriculture markets and productivity, education, HIV, malaria,
tuberculosis, maternal/child health, democracy education, wildlife
trafficking and human-wildlife conflict, humanitarian
assistance, and more.
years, USAID projects have improved literacy rates for 5 million Ugandan
children, fought gender-related violence in 428 schools, provided life-saving
ARV medication to 461,000 people living with HIV, helped reduce malaria deaths
by 52%, increased sales of agricultural products by $400 million, created
40,000 youth jobs, helped connect over 850,000 homes and businesses to
electricity, and helped URA fairly increase its revenue collections
by $34 million annually.
In addition, USAID has provided food
assistance to over 1.23 million refugees per year. None of these notable
results, nor any other part of our portfolio, is a loan. The only repayment we
seek is Uganda’s advancement.
Since the COVID-19
pandemic began, USAID
has also supported Uganda’s COVID-19 response, providing assistance
valued at $64.3 million -- part of total United States
Government-wide COVID-19 support valued at more than $110 million leaving aside
the donation of millions of doses of life-saving vaccines -- toward
testing, PPE, administering vaccinations, public health messaging
campaigns, and human resources to help the Ministry of Health.
also directed resources to help households and businesses impacted economically
On this 60th
anniversary of USAID’s founding, I am proud to represent the United States
in Uganda. As we celebrate our achievements to date, I look
forward to a bright future where USAID can be instrumental in helping Uganda
achieve its goals. So, the next time you see USAID’s logo, recall that
one hand is yours representing the Ugandan people and the other is
mine, representing the American people, bound together by almost 60
years of cooperation and friendship. Here’s to many years of
partnership to come.
The writer of this OpEd is Richard Nelson, the USAID
Mission Director in Uganda