A cabinet decision to borrow $40m (144bn) to fight sexual abuse in the country was informed by a World Bank demand for Government to safeguard Women working at Public Infrastructure Construction sites, this Website can reveal.
Multiple sources told this Website that Ugandan bureaucrats led by Finance Minister Matia Kasaija made the initial commitment a year ago during a meeting with senior WB officials in Washington DC.
Other members of the delegation included Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime-Mutebile, Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi, Uganda national Roads Authority Executive Director Allen Kagina and Pius Bigirimana, The Gender Ministry Permanent Secretary.
President Museveni dispatched the team after Bretton Woods Institute cancelled funding of the 66 KM Fort portal- Kamwenge road over among other things, “Serious allegations of road workers’ sexual relations with minor girls in the community and sexual harassment of female employees”
In Washington DC, the Ugandan delegation was castigated over the Government’s failure to protect vulnerable groups and it accepted to expedite itemised reforms as a precondition for World Bank to unlock funding.
One condition was for the Uganda Government to integrate social safeguards as a key yardstick in evaluating infrastructure projects previously approved largely on the basis of internal rate of return, one official familiar with the discussions said.
Ministers agreed on the 144b loan during a Monday cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni, but Members of parliament will have to approve for actual borrowing can happen.
Mr. Kasaija told colleagues that the government has no resources internally to bankroll planned project to fight gender-based sexual violence.
The proposal passed with “no serious scrutiny or debate”, one Minister said, requesting not to be named because Cabinet discussions are confidential.
Government deputy Spokesperson told the press conference earlier yesterday that ministers unanimously approved the loan request because the “fight against gender based violence was taken as a national priority”. Col. Shaban Batariza said “This has become a big issue in the country. Men have turned women into drums and very many children are being harassed. So this is a move that we need right now”
Peace Mutuzo, the state minister for Gender, however said in an interview that the money is to help government establish a one-stop centre to deal with sexual and gender-based abuse cases as well as build tailored technical capacity
“We have cases of rapes, but because of the lengthy processes of courts, victims loose hope. Others negotiate out of court…but this does not take away the fact that a crime has been committed,” Ms Mutuzo said