Uganda has recently benefited from a debt relief initiative co-ordinated by the World Bank designed to redeem the burden of debt crippling some of the world’s poorest countries. But in a country where corruption is rife, is this relief – Uganda’s been let off 60 per cent of the 120 million dollars it pays to service its foreign debt every year – really going to help the poor? Life travels in rural Uganda with the Uganda Debt Network, an NGO working to ensure that this aid reaches the poor and improves their lives. An American academic, Steve Hanke, thinks that debt relief is a fraud and that believing that monitoring will work is like believing in the tooth fairy: a free market and a vibrant economy is the only thing that can help poor countries and do away with the corruption. But visiting poverty-stricken schools and AIDS orphans, Christine Nantongo of the Uganda Debt Network says debt relief really is working: she wants total cancellation of the country’s $3.7 billion debt. And Life reports on the thriving anti-corruption movement that has sprung up, with popular theatre and campaigning schoolchildren.
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