KAMPALA, March 27, 2009 – The World Bank Uganda country office on March 5 formally launched a monthly dialogue series with the media aimed at promoting informed debate on development issues. Dubbed “monthly coffee press dialogue”, the series is supposed to foster a structured exchange of information and feedback between the Bank and the media in an informal and relaxed setting, in addition to other continuing media efforts.
The launch event was presided over by the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda Kundhavi Kadiresan. Seven World Bank staff members – in charge of projects in the areas of health, energy, education, social protection, portfolio management and communications/external affairs – addressed participants. The project leaders briefed the media on the key developments in their various sectors and answered questions relevant to their areas of expertise.
While launching the dialogue series, held over a light breakfast, Kadiresan said she was happy that even though she had encouraged Bank staff to be available for the media, the structured monthly meetings would take media dialogue a notch higher.
“I am very happy that I have made good my promise of availing World Bank staff to you so that you have meaningful interaction on key development issues,” she told reporters. “My hope is that this forum will build trust and result in more accurate and informed reporting not only about the World Bank and the programs we support but about the key development issues in Uganda.”
Kadiresan emphasized the Bank’s open policy, exemplified through the World Bank Disclosure Policy, and called on the media to take full advantage of the monthly sessions to gather useful information.
“I want us to be open and free during these discussions where I hope you can interact with our staff in an informal but meaningful way,” she said. “If at all some of them are technical and the information is not clear, please feel free to ask for clarifications.”
Speaking about the World Bank’s work in Uganda, the country manager explained that the World Bank portfolio in Uganda currently comprised 18 operations across 10 sectors with total commitments of US$1,319 million, of which US$550 million has already been disbursed. She emphasized that beyond programs and projects, the World Bank is a greater provider of knowledge resources which go deeper into policy issues and should provide a great base for solid media coverage of development issues.
“There’s much more to the World Bank than just funding of projects,” she said. “We have a lot of valuable researched knowledge and ideas that we share with Government to help them in policy formulation and implementation. This policy dialogue, using our analytical work, greatly compliments our financing and makes us much more effective and relevant.”
Kadiresan also announced that the Bank had prepared four projects worth US$425 million scheduled for delivery before the end of the year, subject to approval of the World Bank Board of Executive Directors. The four projects include: Energy for Rural Transformation Project II ($75 million IDA + Global Environment Facility $9 million); Post Primary Education ($150 million); Northern Uganda Social Action Fund II ($100 million); and health infrastructure rehabilitation project ($100 million).
The media representatives expressed gratitude to the Bank for the excellent initiative and proposed topics for the next month’s engagement, promising to keep the trust of the Bank and to report more accurately on development issues.