THE BLOG

Uganda on the Regional and World Stage

At this critical juncture in geopolitics, Uganda has made great strides to fulfill both its domestic and regional commitments. The Museveni administration continues to use the resources at its disposal to make the best of what is a rather debilitating situation in rural Uganda; the government maintains pressure on the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to secure a ceasefire while combating lawlessness and extremism in Somalia. As Uganda assumes the rotating Presidency of the United Nations Security Council, the world looks to Kampala as a friend in fighting disease, poverty and extremism and meeting the goals it has promised to meet.

For many years I have taken the lead and have been an integral part of efforts to combat said extremism and restore peace to northern Uganda after over 20 years of LRA war. During my time as Minister of State for Pacification of North Uganda, I advocated a peaceful resolution to the conflict. I have continued to do so in all subsequent local and indeed international positions. With a relative easing of hostilities in the northern region, I aspire to continue my efforts to create an increasingly developed and sustainable society in the Acholi sub region, focusing closely specifically on the Amuru district. I believe I possess a strong desire to serve my people and facilitate the transition to a better future; one of complete economic, social and political stability that sets an example.

Uganda on the whole has indeed risen to take on the challenges laid out by global leaders in 2000. We have adopted eight globally endorsed human welfare targets to be achieved by 2015, known as the UN Millennium Development Goals). These goals include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring free primary education, eliminating gender disparity in school enrolment, combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases; and promoting environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development. However, these challenges are great; we find ourselves falling short of tangible change in many fields and may not meet our deadline.

Education specifically is a cultural casualty and a threat to achieving these goals, especially when families must prioritize the need for food, clothes and the prevention of malaria above having their children attend school. This amplifies the dilemma, making it cyclical and tragic.

Uganda's fight against Malaria is additionally in dire need of additional funding and support - for a country in which 95% of the land is prone to malarial conditions, further education and monetary support can and will go a long way. Dr. Myers Lugemwa of the Ministry of Health's Malaria Control Programme supports this sentiment, blaming malaria for between 70,000 and 110,000 deaths each year in Uganda.

The government has thus far tried medicating the most severely affected segments of the population; however, due to a lack of funds and access to rural areas, the most cost-effective solution going forward is to provide Ugandans with insecticide-treated mosquito nets. In 2008, this means of protection had only reached one out of six citizens. Dr. John Rwakimari of the National Malaria Control Programme estimates that malaria cases will drop to a reasonably treatable number once 85% of Ugandans have nets. This is an attainable goal - we have an ethical responsibility to quell this horrific yet preventable disease.

I realize that despite these notably good and wholesome interventions and plans laid out by the government of Uganda, a large segment of the population is still living in absolute poverty. The average Amuru citizen, specifically at the grassroots level, does not have access to neither basic social economic services nor social infrastructure such as roads. These are serious concerns that I aim to address fully. I will ensure that a bridge is created between planning at higher levels and implementation at the lowest grassroots level. I will encourage government initiatives and international partnerships to secure better standards of living for our citizens.

Specific reforms will ensure that all communities have access to safe water and improved sanitation, along with the restoration of an improved educational sector that makes it possible for more children to attend qualitatively improved schools. HIV/AIDS, malaria, safe motherhood and immunization interventions will be emphasized through the improvement and application of practical principles to the healthcare system. Improvement in infrastructure will target roads, health centers, schools and electricity.

Uganda continues to assume additional responsibilities as an emerging regional and continental power. The world should embrace our initiatives as an encouraging sign that under the right leadership coupled with altruistic intentions, we can positively impact regional security and thrive in this new era of geopolitics.