A HISTORIC FRIENDSHIP
The link between Italy and Uganda is very deep and it dates back to the early twentieth century when some members of the order of the ‘Comboni Missionaries’ settled in the northern areas of the country implementing a commendable activity of support to the local communities, in particular, in the areas of health and education. Even today, several hospitals built by the Italian missionaries continue to represent a point of reference for Ugandans in the most remote areas.
From an institutional point of view, cooperation relationship was formalized, for the first time, in 1974 with the signing of a bilateral agreement. Currently, the activities of the Italian cooperation are governed by a memorandum of understanding signed with the Ugandan government in 1993 followed by a three-year strategic guideline drawn by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) which is contained in the Planning and Guideline document for 2017-2019.
Over the years, in addition to having cancelled a debt of 115 million dollars to Uganda on the basis of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, Italy has contributed to the growth of the country with more than 100 million euros both in bilateral and multilateral interventions and promotion of NGOs.
Funds have been engaged in the areas of agriculture and water, institutional support, emergencies, school reforms and especially in health care. The latter has become the main area of intervention, with the aim of strengthening health systems and guaranteeing access to services by the weakest sections of the population living in the poorest urban and rural areas.
Finally, Italy is close to Uganda because of its response to humanitarian emergency needs arising from the crisis in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
MAIN ITALIAN COOPERATION INITIATIVES
Amongst the main ongoing bilateral initiatives of the Italian Cooperation, it is worth to mention the project “Support for the Ugandan National Strategic Health Plan and the plan for peace, reconstruction and development” (AID 9108), worth a total of 12.500.000 euros. The program has allowed an expansion of the delivery of basic health services in the regions of Karamoja and Acholi (North Uganda). The project has favored the integration of public and private services in the national health framework and has improved the quality of diagnostic services for tuberculosis (both at central and peripheral levels). Amongst the main components of the initiative which have already been commissioned: a contribution to UNICEF for the enhancement of maternal and child healthcare; a contribution to WHO for the struggle against multi-resistant TBC; several minor activities delivered directly by the Cooperation Office in Kampala. A last component of the project, directly implemented by the Government of Uganda through Italian financing and monitoring, is currently being finalized. The initiative consists in the construction of staff houses for the medical and health personnel in the Karamoja Region (one of the most remote and least developed areas of the country). The project “Integrated health intervention in North Uganda at university, hospital and district level”, worth € 2,413,680, funded the construction, clinical activities and equipping of the radiology department of Gulu Regional Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Lacor. It has also offered training courses to students of the Faculty of Medicine in the districts of Gulu and Amuru, with particular attention to mental health in post-conflict situations.
Currently, a further substantial support plan is being studied with the objective of continuing to strengthen the Ugandan national health system.
The Italian Cooperation is active in Uganda also through support to NGOs who, rooted in the territory carry out commendable jobs that assist the efforts of local communities in the fight against poverty, drought, lack of adequate educational and health services and which favour fostering opportunities for family and economic development.
At present, on the basis of the 2017 CSO call issued by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the Corti Foundation received a financing of € 750.000 to strengthen the pediatric services and empowerment of health personnel in the Acholi region (north of the country). On the same course, COOPSVILUPPO has been financed with € 1.170.000 to improve the nutritional and educational standards of the Moroto and Napak communities (Karamoja). The project will be implemented in partnership with CUAMM. The NGO AVSI has been financed with 449,909 euros to maximize the impact against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in 8 districts of the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda.
At multilateral level, over the years, many initiatives have been financed through the United Nations agencies and International Institutions.
For the biennium 2016-2017, euros 1,034,748 were allocated to the World Health Organization (WHO) to conform tobacco taxation policies of some African countries (including Uganda) to sustainable development, and euros 200,000 to the initiative promoted by the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) aimed at improving the psycho-social conditions of individuals exposed to the devastating effects of the crisis in Burundi. Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa through the reduction of transmission of animal trypanosomiasis (transmitted by the tsetse fly) has been added, running at FAO in several countries of the sub-region (GCP / RAF / 502 / ITA)
The Italian Cooperation also promotes opportunities of cooperation for profit through selection of innovative entrepreneurial initiatives eligible to financing / co-financing and to be implemented in cooperation partner countries.
With Resolution no. 34/2017 related to the “Call for innovative ideas and entrepreneurial initiatives for development”, among the winning projects, the initiative presented by Absolute Energy was awarded because it had the objective which promotes access to productive energy and economic development on the island of Bukasa, Kalangala District.
In collaboration with the United Nations and some NGOs, Italy is supporting Ugandan government in managing the dramatic forced exodus flows of refugees generated by the crisis in South Sudan (defined by various observers as the “biggest humanitarian emergency in Sub-Saharan Africa”).
Also in honor to the commitments taken during the Solidarity Summit held in Kampala on the 22nd and 23rd June 2017 , Italy has allocated approximately 2,300,000 euros in response to the above crisis. The funds were used to support the UNHCR activities in the management of asylum seekers present in the country (1,000,000 euros) and to send, in collaboration with the United Nations logistic headquarters in Brindisi, a humanitarian cargo valued at some 300,000 euros containing first aid and relief goods, as well as to finance the following bilateral initiatives entrusted to the OSC for a total amount of 952,551 euros:
• Emergency initiative in the sectors of health, nutrition, agriculture, water and protection and inclusion of children in favor of refugees and displaced persons, victims of humanitarian crisis in South Sudan (AMREF-INTERSOS)
• Action in support of the School of Peace in favour of refugee families in the District of Adjumani, Uganda (community of Saint Egidio ACAP Onlus)
In addition, the project of AVSI and ACAV (formerly AICS 11211) was approved in May 2018. The RISE project – Integrated Response in Support to the refugee emergency and community hosting a field of Rhino, District of Arua has obtained a funding of 990,716.55 euro and will intervene in the sectors of water and hygiene, agriculture and food security, protection, protection and inclusion of minors.
In late November 2018 a new Not for Profit – Emergency call for proposal (11546) – was awarded which endorsed and funded the following projects:
• (CESVI/AVSI) ICCROSS Cross Border Intervention for South Sudanese refugees, returnees and host communities at Palabek camp at Lamwo district (Uganda) and Ikotos County (South Sudan): valued at €803,175 (of which €588,532 is Ugandan component);
• (C&S/ACAP) Empowerment of refugees’ communities and host communities at Maaji 3 and Nyumanzi, to ensure a favorable environment for income-generating activities for youth and women through formal education and vocational training: valued at €409,286.
On 5 June 2019, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) approved the project ForeSeeing Inclusion – Salute Visiva e Disability Mainstreaming in Nord Uganda (OSC 2018 announcement), presented by the NGO “CBM (Christian Blind Mission) Together we can do more”. The initiative received funding of 1,398,454 euros. CBM has been working for decades in Uganda trying to implement practices to prevent blindness, improving health facilities and supporting people with disabilities to access education and health care / rehabilitation within their community.