‘World Bank Forced Gender Violence Loan Down Uganda’s Throat’

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The World Bank is forcing Uganda the to take a $40million (about Shs 185 billion) loan to fight gender based violence (GBV), Finance minister, Matia Kasaija has said.

The loan, expected to increase participation in gender-based violence prevention programs and utilisation of multi-sectoral services for survivors of gender-based violence in targeted districts, was approved by the cabinet on Monday. But according to Kasaija, the World Bank forced the government to accept this loan.

“When the government started dragging its feet, World Bank warned that it would be hard for Uganda to get support for other projects,” he explained.

Kasaija said in the course of negotiating for the loan, World Bank suspended funding on the FortPortal-Kamwenge road citing environmental concerns and allegations of sexual misconduct by the contractors. He added that the Bank also suspended loan agreements for two other projects, pushing the government into a fix.World Bank later set conditions which the government fulfilled, but Kasaija said, the Bank returned saying the government was not handling the issue of gender based violence satisfactorily. They suggested a loan offer to address the issue. Kasaija admitted that government was not convinced that it needed this loan.

He added that the World Bank country director Christina Malmberg told him that Uganda would be acclaimed as an exemplary country borrowing to address an issue considered important by the Bretton Wood institution. But Kasaija further revealed, Christina told him that if the government refused to take the loan, it would be hard to lobby for other loans.

“We discussed this loan not only from here but we even went to cabinet just last Monday. Your view is as strong as our view, some of us. When this matter was brought to my ministry here, I started asking our people here; ‘surely we should borrow money to educate our people here?’ I did not feel convinced. But when I called the World Bank representative, he said, ‘you’re being acclaimed as an example of a country which wants to address an issue which is uppermost in the World Bank. The question of environmental and gender based issues and please if you don’t take this loan, we don’t know if we shall find it easier to campaign for you to get more loans or loan grants for support.’ To them it is very big issue.” Kasaija said.

Kasaija said cabinet directed the ministry of Finance to renegotiate with World Bank on the loan usage.

“Rather than using it for midomo-midomo (sensitization), it should be used for education projects,” he said adding that sensitisation is not a sustainable solution for gender-based violence. When more and more girls and boys are educated, Kasaija said gender-based violence becomes less and eradicated in the long term.

“Cabinet has decided rather than get the money and do sensitisation…cabinet has directed me to renegotiate the usage of that money. The more our girls and boys are educated, the less you will get incidences of violence. We thought it is a question of lack of education.”

-Uganda Radio Network

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