Uganda became a member of the United Nations in 1963. For the past five decades the United Nations through its various agencies, programmes, funds and entities has worked in partnership with and supported the Government of Uganda towards achieving its development goals. Over the past decades the UN has provided technical support, capacity building and assistance to address a wide range of development and humanitarian challenges in health, education, protection, human rights and gender among others. Notable positive outcomes achieved in partnership with the Government of Uganda include improved infant and child survival and development through immunization and related programmes, progress in combating HIV/AIDS through a multifaceted approach, improvement in literacy levels and improvement in livelihoods in most parts of the country.
However, Uganda still faces some significant development challenges. Northern Uganda needs to recover from over two decades of conflict, Karamoja still faces many development challenges, the HIV/AIDS challenge has taken on new dimensions, and the rapidly growing and young population also presents challenges as well as opportunities which need to be harnessed. Under the current United Nations Development Assistance Frame work (UNDAF) 2010 -2014 agreed with the Government of Uganda, the UN in Uganda’s special areas of focus are therefore Northern Uganda, Human Rights, Gender, Environment, Population Dynamics and HIV/AIDS.
In order to efficiently and effectively contribute to addressing these challenges, the UN in Uganda has adopted a Delivering as One approach of joint programmes by UN agencies in Uganda. The joint programmes are on Northern Uganda early recovery, Peacebuilding, Justice,Law and Order, Protection and support to refugees and IDPs, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, Climate Change, Value Chain, Nutrition and Food Security, Population and HIV/AIDS.
Under the leadership of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, the Delivering as One approach involves better coordination of the joint programmes by UN agencies in Uganda in order to reduce duplication, reduce transaction costs and achieve greater programme impact. The UN Resident Coordinator is assisted in this coordination role by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) comprised of head of UN agencies in Uganda and United Nations Area Coordinators (UNAC), in the areas where the UN has a strong presence on the ground. There are currently UNACs for Acholi and Karamoja in Northern Uganda, and for South West Uganda and West Nile. The UNACs are nominated from senior field officer/ sub office heads of different UN agencies. The UN Resident Coordinator and UNACs are assisted in their coordination roles by staff from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO) in the functions of coordination, monitoring and evaluation, and communication.
The Programme Management Team (PMT) comprised of deputy heads/programme heads of UN agencies in Uganda is responsible for coordination of technical programmatic issues of the UN joint programmes in Uganda, while the United Nations Communication Group (UNCG) comprised of Communication/Public information officers of UN agencies in Uganda is responsible for the communication issues. There are also similar coordination bodies for Monitoring and Evaluation, Operations and Security. These coordination bodies meet at least once a month. Each UN agency in Uganda is represented in these bodies by a technical.
In April 2020, the UN in Uganda launched the United Nations-coordinated Emergency Appeal which prioritized the most urgent interventions to be carried out in Uganda in the next six months (April to September 2020) in support of the Government-led response to COVID-19.
Complementing the Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Health’s response, the appeal focuses on: 1) the immediate public health response to COVID-19, and 2) response to the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable Ugandans, including children, the elderly, women, people living with disabilities, people living with HIV, refugees, migrants, and those displaced by natural disasters.
Whilst seeking to ensure that there is not duplication in funding asks with existing programmes, some activities in the Emergency Appeal represent a strictly prioritized and/or scaled-up version of activities included in the Uganda Refugee Response Plan,4 and Uganda’s United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
The appeal calls for $316.4 million to respond to the immediate COVID-19 public health response and the most urgent needs generated by the secondary consequences caused by the COVID-19 outbreak for the most vulnerable Ugandans, including through: food security, livelihoods and nutrition interventions; life-saving protection, education and WASH services; social protection for the most vulnerable; assistance for refugees and internally displaced people; and support to the private sector, local governments and communities to counter-act the immediate consequences of COVID-19. Common services -including coordination, security, communication and logistics- will underpin the response and support the scale-up of partners’ emergency programmes to meet critical life-saving needs in the period ahead.