By E. K Benj– Kampala, Uganda
Uganda’s long serving President Yoweri Tibahaburwa Kaguta Museveni has appealed to United Nations for International Cooperation in tax issues and debt relief. Museveni delivered his message through his Prime Minister Rt Hon Dr Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda who was officiating at 75th Commemoration Anniversary of the United Nations at Twin Towers, Presidential Conference Hall on Wednesday 28th October 2020.
Uganda is among the heavily indebted Developing countries by GDP ratio according to World Population Review Report. Others are Sierra Leone, Suriname, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines, Uruguay, Croatia, Montenegro, Togo, Slovenia, Albania, Burundi, Rwanda, Chad, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Thailand, Eswatini,
Museveni says debt relief is one of the interventions the United Nations should champion to facilitate developing countries recover from the economic shock of COVID-19 pandemic.
Museveni congratulated the entire UN Country Team and added that the United Nations has turned 75 years at a time of the greatest challenge of our time; COVID-19 pandemic which has had a devastating impact on livelihoods of millions of people across the globe.
“We have seen the health sector nearing breaking point, schools closed, trade and travel restrictions, tourism industry is in limbo, foreign investments and remittances have all been affected which has put many families back to abject poverty. ” Rugunda read statement.
However, amidst this crisis, the government remains hopeful that the existing frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction will be guiding instruments as country embarks on post covid recovery programmes.
“This is where the relevance of the United Nations comes in with its mobilisation advantage to rally all development partners to assist poor countries not only to recover but also to build resilience to future economic shocks.” Museveni added. See full statement latter.
H.E. Rosa Malango United Nations Resident Coordinator and Designated Official for Security recognised Uganda’s Premier, ministers, Diplomats, Heads of Government Agencies, Development Partners, Colleagues from the UN system, Members of the private sector, Members of the Academia, Members from the Media fraternity and viewers watching live on television.
“On behalf of the United Nations system in Uganda, I am delighted to welcome you to the National Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations under the theme ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism’.
Malango commended the Office of the Prime Minister and all Government Ministries, Development Partners, Civil Society, private sector leaders and youth influencers for collective and strong partnerships to deliver on SDGs, Uganda’s National Vision 2040, East Africa Community Vision 2050, African Union Vision 2063 and the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. She also appreciated their Donors for all the generous contributions that allowed UN system to respond to critical gaps.
The UN Secretary-General declared 2020 as the commencement of the Decade of Action for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges—ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.
Since Uganda became the 110th member of the United Nations on 25th October 1962, the UN system has supported the Government and people of Uganda with humanitarian assistance and support to achieve their development aspirations.
Since 2019 UN system witnessed a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system with an independent and empowered Resident Coordinator to support strong coherence and mutual accountability.
She highlighted some of the achievements of the UN over the past few years:
In the area of Health: UN and partners supported the Government of Uganda to respond to disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 and Ebola through Strengthening coordination of preparedness and response efforts at National and Sub National levels among others.
In the area of Economic Empowerment, UN supports the Agri- LED initiative in Rwenzori region, which is a Presidential transformative intervention that brings together a wide range of stakeholders in a harmonized manner with the overall objective of transforming the Local Government financing system to facilitate effective business oriented local development with a focus on poverty reduction and sustainable wealth creation, as guided by the Government’s Local Economic Development (LED) Policy 2014.
In the area of Refugees and migration : Uganda has more than 1.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers. The United Nations has supported refugees and communities hosting them by providing with shelter, food, clean water and medical care as part of implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response (CRRF). The United Nation has also supported government to ensure heath and safety against COVID-19 at border entry points by providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: UN system has advanced of gender equality and women empowerment in Uganda through supporting relevant laws and policies. Furthermore, the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in Uganda aims at ending violence against women and girls.
In the area of Education: The UN has supported skills development, particularly through vocational education, to enhance ability of Ugandans to be gainfully employed. To keep children learning at home during COVID-19, UN supported the Ministry of Education and the National Information Technology Authority to introduce a free of charge easy to use digital learning platform – Kolibri – with content approved by the National Curriculum Development Center.
Youth Empowerment: To ensure stronger synergies and complementarities amongst the various UN Youth initiatives, youth whose ideas will be selected under the One Million SDG Solutions Innovation Challenge can benefit from the facilities being made available by UNDP, UNCDF and UN Women. She welcomed support for initiative with the Uganda Youth Coalition for SDGs, by visiting the catalogue of innovations at www.ugandayouthsolutions.com and selecting youth innovations to support.
The UN boss highlighted that on 9th September 2020, H.E. President Museveni launched the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021 – 2025 which is aligned to the third National Development Plan (NDP III), the National Vision 2040 and the SDGs. It is expected to enhance coherence, efficiencies and mutual accountability. ” I would like to reiterate the continued commitment of the United Nations system in Uganda to support the people to achieve their development aspirations. ” Malango concluded.
Alain Sibenaler a Luxembourg National the UNFPA Country Representative talked about opportunities for young people as well as Increasing life expectancy, declining child mortality and declining fertility transform the structure of populations. With the right investments, these changes can accelerate sustainable development.
Ms. Bintou Keita the current Assistant-Secretary General for Africa recognized UN mandate and argued the public to take care and be alive. Ms. Keita joined the United Nations in 1989.
Mr. James Collins Dombo, the Permanent Secretary at office of the Prime Minister of Uganda representing the Focal Minister for SDGs Mary Karooro Okurut said that Uganda is proud to be a member of the world’s inter government organisation because of what Uganda believes in.
Continuation of President Museveni Statement and Prime Minister’s message to the youth.
Uganda and the United Nations have had great partnerships in addressing critical challenges to sustainable development. For instance, we have worked closely with United Nations in implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing the plight of refugees, feeding the hungry, education of our children, addressing violence against women and children, mitigating the negative impact of climate change among other interventions.
It is my wish that our collaboration is strengthened further so that we make more and more strides in addressing contemporary and future development challenges.
The government of Uganda will continue to support the UN Country Team to execute their mandates. We remain optimistic and supportive of the UN reform process including reform of the Security Council so that we can get the UN we all want.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I understand there was a discussion on the role of the youth in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. We appreciate the support that the United Nations continues to extend to Uganda particularly to the youth and women.
The 3rd National Development Plan (NDPIII) adopted an all-inclusive approach to development where focus has been given to youth, women and people with disabilities to fully participate in governance both at local and central government levels to ensure that no one is left behind.
We fully recognize the role of the youth in development because they play a big role as critical thinkers, Change Agentsandinnovators among other roles.
I wish to reiterate that government of Uganda remains committed to the 2030 Agenda with the emphasis on leaving no one behind. In addition, we continue to give priority to stronger partnerships, localization of the SDGs particularly dealing with negative impacts of climate change and inequality. We look forward to a strengthened and closer working relationship with United Nations in tackling current and future crises.