The envoys representing the EU Delegation, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden, did a collective on-the-ground assessment of the region's challenges and opportunities, in close consultation with the Government of Uganda, local government representatives, civil society groups and the media.
During the retreat, the Ambassadors met and interacted with key political and administrative leadership of the districts of Mbale, Kapchorwa and Tororo, civil society leaders, youth leaders, security officials, farmers and citizens.
The EU HoMs were stunned by the beauty of the landscape and culture of the Mount Elgon region and saw unique opportunities, including in the field of tourism and agriculture. They affirmed the need for engagement with the Government and key stakeholders to unlock the unique potential of the region which is still listed among the least developed areas of the country with high poverty levels, high prevalence of gender based violence and early child marriages.
Traditions still play an important role in the lives of people with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and traditional male circumcision practiced in several districts. In line with Uganda’s commitment to the SDGs, the Ambassadors stated that the region's opportunities should translate into inclusive economic growth with real change for the poorest and most marginalized.
A visit to the 10MW Tororo Solar Power Plant and the Malaba One Stop Border gave the opportunity to get a better understanding of EU-funded projects in the area while the visit to the National High Altitude Training Centre at Teryet, in the stunning northern side of Mount Elgon, provided a unique opportunity to meet the celebrated Ugandan sports champions Joshua Cheptegei, Stephen Kiprotich and Halima Nakaayi among others. Other highlights included a hike in the primary forest of Mt. Elgon National Park with Minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, which ended with a tree planting exercise to symbolize the EU's commitment to sustaining ecology and mitigating the impact of climate change.