The United States government has cut aid to Uganda as response to the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality law early this year. In the new measures, up to $2.4 million meant for funding a community policing programme would be halted in light of a police raid on a U.S.-funded health program at Makerere University and reports of people detained and abused while in police custody. The US will also reallocate $3 million in funding for a planned national public health institute to another African country, which it did not name.
The US has placed entry restrictions on Ugandan individuals who plan to travel to the US and are involved in what they termed as “serious violations or abuses of human rights” against LGBT individuals. They however stopped short of naming the Ugandans due to confidentiality requirements.
Uganda’s parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in December last year amidst complaints from human rights activists and the donor community. The law imposes jail terms of up to life for aggravated homosexuality which includes homosexual sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.
In February 2014, President Museveni accented to the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which criminalizes the promotion and involvement in gay practices. As soon as he signed, US Secretary of State, John Kerry said they would review aid to Uganda.
In a statement on the White House website, they have discontinued 2.4million United States Dollars to towards the Uganda Police Force Community policing-program. They accused the Uganda Police Force for the raiding of the Makerere University Walter Reed Project, a US funded public health program. The Uganda Police raided the Aids research center in April 2014, accusing it of several homosexuality practices.
Fred Enanga, the Uganda Police Spokesperson told URN that they were not aware of the aid cuts. He also noted that the community policing initiative still has “a lot of support” from other European countries. They however couldn’t comment, as yet, on the likely effects the aid cut. According to the 2014/15 National Budget Framework Paper, the Uganda Police Force has budgeted for 10 billion Uganda Shillings for this project, up from 9 billion Shillings in 2013/14.
The United States has also relocated three million United States Dollars meant for the construction on the National Public Health Institute. The Ministry of Health Spokesperson Rukia Nakamatte, could not comment at this stage on the likely impact of the aid cuts to the delivery of health services. The US has also redirected funding, like salaries and travel allowances among others, in the Ministry of Health to non-Governmental organizations.
Annually, the US gives Uganda close to 450 million Dollars in aid, mostly to the health sector. In March 2014, they reduced funding to the Inter-Religious Council Uganda (IRCU) from 7.7million United States Dollars to 2.3million Dollars. The IRCU has been a strong advocate for the Anti-Homosexuality Act to be enacted, a position the US government describes as one that could “foster an atmosphere of discrimination.” During the same period they also redirected three million United States Dollars for tourism and biodiversity promotion to NGOs.
The US has now redirected or cancelled aid to Uganda of about 30 million United States Dollars, which is about 7percent of the total aid it gives to Uganda.
The current cuts to Uganda are still considered less significant to the economy, as most have been redirected from direct budget support, to NGOs.