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Uganda: U.S. Closes Shs 60bn GiveDirectly Cash Transfer Project

The United States government has terminated the international non-profit organisation, GiveDirectly, which has been providing direct cash handouts to needy Ugandans since 2013, Chimp Corps report.

The program was blocked by government’s NGO Bureau in September, 2020 on grounds that cash handouts would encourage laziness, idleness, domestic violence, dependency syndrome especially in rural areas.

The U.S. Mission in Uganda said in a statement this past Friday that despite the thorough assessment and approval by Cabinet, in September the NGO Bureau announced an additional review of GiveDirectly’s activities in Uganda, resulting in the program’s suspension.

“GiveDirectly addressed the NGO Bureau’s questions, and no irregularities in the cash transfer program or GiveDirectly’s operations were identified,” said the Embassy, adding, the program has still not been authorized to resume, and no assurances have been provided that authorization by the government is forthcoming.

“In light of this indefinite suspension, it is now unlikely that the program will meet its original objective, which was to prevent COVID related economic backsliding of the most vulnerable Ugandans. Therefore, we are obligated contractually to terminate the program permanently,” the Mission said.

The development comes at a time the country is preparing for the 2020 general elections.

The U.S. said in a statement earlier this week that it was not supporting any candidate in the forthcoming polls.

President Museveni recently said Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine was being backed by foreigners, a claim the Kyaddondo lawmaker denied.

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Ugandan officials say the source of the funds remains unclear.

The United States says since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it has provided technical assistance and more than $47 million to help Uganda meet urgent needs in its COVID-19 response.

The United States’ COVID-related assistance includes approximately $10 million for a direct cash transfer program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in August in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Kampala through the international non-profit, GiveDirectly.

“The goal of this program was to follow international precedent for economic stimulus by providing cash directly to individuals and families who need it most. Specifically, the program intended to support Ugandans who lost livelihoods as a result of COVID-19, who were at risk of food insecurity and faced serious reductions in household nutrition,” said the U.S. Mission in Kampala.

The cash transfers were designed to support local markets by providing 120,000 Ugandans across six cities Shs 100,000 each month for three months.

By September, 47,128 Ugandans were enrolled in the program.

USAID and GiveDirectly said they worked closely with government counterparts to vet the program through the Cabinet and ultimately to launch the program publicly as part of the Lira City celebration in August.

“We are mindful that ordinary Ugandans continue to suffer from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and that they could greatly benefit from this emergency cash assistance, which has been proven both internationally and within Uganda as a powerful development tool to transfer stabilizing economic relief to recipient communities,” said the U.S. Embassy.

“We deeply regret that the 120,000 Ugandans identified to participate in this program, along with their surrounding communities, will now not have the opportunity to benefit from it.”

United States said while it was “deeply disappointed by the reluctance of some elements within the government to support this highly effective cash transfer program,” it remained “committed to supporting the Ugandan people through this challenging time.”

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