Eamon Gilmore begins east Africa visit to see aid impact
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore will today begin a five-day visit to east Africa's poorest communities to see the impact of Irish Aid.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs will begin his trip in Uganda, where Ireland's support has halved the number of people surviving on less than a dollar a day.
He will also look at ways to increase trade between Ireland and Kenya.
"Uganda has come a long way since the dark days of conflict in the 1970s and 1980s which cost hundreds of thousands of lives and led to the collapse of social and economic infrastructure," said Mr Gilmore.
"Today, with the support of donors including Ireland, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day has halved, while the number of children attending school has tripled to almost 8.5 million over the past 15 years.
"However, Uganda still faces major challenges, with almost seven million people living in poverty.
"Our targeted programmes support the poorest families to improve their livelihoods, allowing them to send their children to school, access healthcare and invest in their futures.
"We are also working to enhance the capacity of the private sector to provide jobs and economic opportunities."
Irish Aid programmes in Uganda, which are funded by taxpayers, are focused on improving access to education, tackling HIV and AIDS and improving economic opportunities for the most vulnerable people.
In Karamoja, the poorest area of the country, more than three-quarters of the population live in chronic poverty and one infant out of every 10 dies in childbirth.
Mr Gilmore will then visit Kenya, a trip which will focus on increasing trade and investment opportunities for Irish companies in telecoms, medical supplies and other sectors. A seminar for up to 40 Kenyan and Irish business people will be held.
The Tanaiste said Africa is a dynamic continent, where growth rates in many countries reached 7% over the last five years.
"Kenya serves as a crucial gateway to east Africa," he added.
"In line with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Africa Strategy, my department is working harder than ever to research sectors and markets where there are potential matches between Irish competencies and African demand.
"My visit to Kenya is designed to help us convert these links into trade and investment opportunities which will benefit both Ireland and Africa in the long term."