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World Bank Board of Directors Hail Uganda on Tackling Social Risks

The World Bank has commended steps taken by the government of Uganda to address social risks and gender-based violence, Chimp Corps report.

This is seen a significant step in consolidating relations between Kampala and World Bank which had withheld development support for infrastructure projects in Uganda due to due to contractual breaches related to workers’ issues, social and environmental concerns, poor project performance, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by contractors.

But while visiting Uganda this week, World Bank Board of Directors observed that government was taking correct steps to address social risks.

The World Bank delegation, led by the Bank’s Group Executive Director, Mr Fernando Jimenez Latorre, expressed satisfaction with how things are going on in Uganda.

According to a statement from State House, “The delegation also positively expressed happiness with how Uganda is handling both social and environmental issues.”

The visitors, who met with President Museveni at State House Entebbe, “applauded the country on the way it has handled the influx of refugees.” They expressed commitment to “further working with Uganda especially on in tackling issues of human capital development, market integration and value addition, among other areas.”

The World Bank Board of Directors were in Uganda to get a first hand view of the Bank’s support to the country’s development priorities.

The eleven-member delegation represents 92 countries and nearly 51% of the World Bank’s shareholding.

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According to Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Executive Director, Allen Kagina, government has since the suspension of the funding a lot of lessons are learnt and social protection issues have become a bench mark for all road projects countrywide.

Ministry of Gender Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana recently launched a series of programmes to address social risks.

The main associated risks rotate disruption of social set ups due to labour influx and increase in disposable income among communities, increased chances of contracting HIV, child abuse and exploitation, community health and safety concerns, gender based violence and all forms of discrimination against women and vulnerable people.

Development 

Meanwhile, President Museveni and his guests discussed a wide range of issues concerning the economic development in Uganda.

President Museveni warmly welcomed the delegation to Uganda saying he had for so long wanted to meet and interact with members of the Board of Directors of the World Bank.

Museveni informed the group that Africa has got huge potential but the challenge has been that the people tackling Africa’s issues are bent on using uni-dimensional approach where they tackle some of the bottlenecks not knowing that the challenges are integrated.

He said Africa is so rich with a huge market but because of the bottlenecks, such as lack of infrastructure, fragmented markets, ideological disorientation and export of raw materials, among others, the continent has not been able to attain substantial economic development adding that in order for Africa to have a meaningful and sustainable growth, the bottlenecks need to be tackled together.

He told the visiting delegation that now that Africa and Uganda in particular have addressed some of the challenges, such as high electricity rates, transport and the issue of market, the economic growth will grow considerably.

President Museveni further noted that “refugees coming to Uganda is not an issue because these are our people and our brothers and they integrate easily because of their backgrounds.”

He however, said the only impact on host countries is on social services and the environment for which he called on the World Bank and other development partners to direct their efforts.

The World Bank Group has had a long-standing and strong partnership with Uganda with a cumulative investment of more than US$10 billion.

The current WB’s program is well-positioned to assist the Government of Uganda in achieving its ambitious development agenda through the Bank’s portfolio of almost US$3 billion covering investments in all major sectors of the economy.

This is complemented by US$175 million in commitment by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) targeting projects in infrastructure, agribusiness and financial sectors; and US$236 million in gross exposure by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) supporting the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project.

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