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Minister Martin visits Ireland’s aid programme in Uganda and Ethiopia

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., today begins a five-day visit to Uganda and Ethiopia, two of the priority countries for the Government’s aid programme.  The main purpose of the visit is to assess the impact of the aid programme in the fight against poverty and hunger in Africa.

During his visit Minister Martin will meet with local communities, key Government Ministers, representatives of Irish NGOs and business contacts. He will also meet with Irish missionaries working on the ground in both countries and visit schools, clinics and a hospice funded by Irish Aid.

In Uganda, from 27 to 30 June, he will have meetings and visit projects in Kampala, and travel to Karamoja, one of the poorest and most disadvantaged regions of the country. In Karamoja he will see how Ireland’s assistance has helped reduce conflict, improve livelihoods and build schools. The Minister will also launch the new five year strategy for Ireland’s development support for Uganda. In Ethiopia, from 30 June to 2 July, the Minister will hold discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, meet with Irish NGOs and visit clinics funded by Irish Aid. He will also meet with Irish business people working in the country. He will discuss regional issues with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, at the organisation’s Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

At the start of the visit, Minister Martin stated:

“I want to visit Uganda and Ethiopia to see the impact on the lives of the people of both countries of the Government’s aid programme. Ireland has a strong commitment to providing strategic assistance to both countries, working in partnership to make a real impact on the fight against poverty and hunger. Our assistance to Uganda and Ethiopia ensures that some of the poorest communities in Africa have access to better nutrition and healthcare, that the scourge of HIV and AIDS is being tackled effectively and that children have a chance to get a decent education.

In addition to meeting local political figures, I look forward to seeing first-hand the magnificent work of Irish missionaries and NGOs. I also want to explore the opportunities to develop closer trade links between Ireland and Africa. I look forward to meeting Irish business people who are working with African partners in both Uganda and Ehtiopia to develop new businesses which can provide jobs and trading opportunities to help lift people in Africa out of poverty.”

Note for Editors:

Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin will visit Uganda and Ethiopia from 27 June to 2 July. They are two of the nine priority countries of the Government’s aid programme, which is managed by Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs. In 2010, the Government will provide €33 million in direct assistance to Uganda and €26 million to Ethiopia, in addition to funding channelled to development work in both countries by NGOs and missionaries.

In Uganda, Ireland’s assistance has helped:-

  • Reduce poverty: the percentage of people living in poverty declined from 56% in 1992 to 31% in 2006.
  • Reduce Child Mortality: Under-five mortality rates have declined from 180 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 137 per 1000 in 2006;
  • Provide access to Universal Primary Education: Uganda is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that will meet the Millennium Development Goal of access to Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015. There are now 7.4 million pupils in primary schools compared to 2.5 million in 1997.

In Ethiopia, Ireland’s assistance has helped:-

  • Fight extreme poverty and hunger: through its productive Safety nets programme Irish Aid helps 7.5 million people who are unable to provide for their household food needs and helps them out of chronic food insecurity.
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: the number of childhood malaria cases reported at clinics fell by over 60% and child malaria death rates were halved within two years 2005-2007) through the use of mosquito nets.
  • Improve maternal health: Ireland provides support for 30,000 health care workers who provide education and assistance to ensure that babies are delivered safely.