Africa’s Uganda reports shrinking foreign aid, healthcare to be badly hit

ByNangayi Guyson

Africa’s Uganda reports shrinking foreign aid, healthcare to be badly hit

Over the past two decades, Uganda has been among the top recipients of foreign aid in the world, with experts putting this at 6 – 8% of the country’s gross national income. According to statistics from the World Bank, the total amount of foreign aid received by Uganda between 1960 and 2021 amounted to approximately US$190 billion.

The funds, most of which came from the USA, the UK, and the World Bank, were primarily directed towards healthcare, education, infrastructure development, agriculture, and poverty alleviation initiatives.

However, documents made public by Uganda’s Finance Ministry show that the country’s overall donor contributions are expected to fall from Shs 2.781 trillion in 2023–2024 to barely Shs 28.94 billion in the ensuing budget for 2024–2025.

Uganda’s healthcare will be among the worst-hit beneficiaries of aid with the Health Ministry predicting a decrease of 49% in foreign aid for the sector. With a budget of Shs. 4 trillion, foreign funding accounts for the lion’s share of Uganda’s healthcare spending.

This decrease is increasingly more alarming as Uganda has long been struggling to reduce the disease-caused death rate. Currently, the 47-million-people country reports that over 50% of deaths are caused by communicable diseases, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Appearing before parliament this month, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Uganda’s Health Minister, warned that the government will need to urgently implement self-financing measures for the health sector to counteract the rapidly decreasing funding from international donors.

Aceng admitted that foreign aid was “crucial” but nevertheless denied any link between the fall in foreign aid and the Anti-Homosexuality Act Uganda that was enacted in 2023.

“I understand you think it is the Anti-Homosexuality Act, but it is not. Donor money has been declining, and I’ve been presenting this because donors can’t support us indefinitely”.

The minister called for better planning and for the identification of more domestic sources of funding to cover the predicted deficit.

“The problem is that we must plan as the number of donors drops, and they are dropping. It’s a crucial issue because, as I’ve already told you, donors provide all of the funding for public health,” Minister Aceng added.

In May 2023, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 which sparked protests from donors who then retaliated by suspending funding to Uganda.

Since this law, which imposes severe penalties for homosexuality including the death penalty in certain cases, was enacted, the media has reported an increase in violence against LGBTQ Ugandans and that terrified citizens are attempting to flee the country.