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Uganda attained independence in 1962. An initial period of stability was followed by two decades of turmoil under the regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote, involving civil conflict, serious deterioration of the economic and social infrastructure, gross abuses of human rights and widespread corruption. Since the overthrow of Milton Obote in 1985, Uganda has been led by President Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.

Uganda has made substantial progress over the last decade in achieving economic growth accompanied by an improvement in the quality of life. Economic reform programmes, with substantial donor support, have led to low inflation, stable exchange rates and market-determined prices.

The economic growth, combined with a commitment on the Government's part to poverty reduction policies, has contributed to substantial progress in human development. Income poverty fell from 56% in 1992 to 35% in 2000. Access to social services - particularly education, health and water - dramatically improved, though quality of services remains an issue.

To eradicate poverty, Uganda developed the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) in 1997 which has been used as the main development strategy and planning framework by government and donors.

Uganda was the first country to be granted debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor County (HIPC). The debt savings were channelled into the Poverty Action Fund (PAF) and with additional donor and government funds have been used to fund programmes directly impacting on the poor.

There is a major humanitarian crisis in Northern Uganda caused by the "Lord's Resistance Army", with its violent 17-year campaign directed against civilians and involving large scale abductions of children and massive displacement of the population.

An estimated 1.6 million internally displaced people, out of a population of 2.9 million, are living in overcrowded camps. The conflict that has spawned the crisis is rooted in Uganda's recent history, with its complex mix of uneven social and economic development, violent regional conflict and the marginalisation of minorities.

The ongoing tragedy represents a major challenge to the Ugandan government. It is clear that significant further progress in reducing poverty in Uganda will not be possible without reconciliation and security in the North.