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[NAIROBI] The Ugandan government is expected to receive US$20 million under the World Bank's Millennium Science Initiative. The funds will be used to increase the quality, quantity and relevance of Uganda's scientific and technological output and skills base.

According to World Bank documents, the funds will also encourage Uganda's best researchers to remain and work in the country by establishing good working conditions.

Of the total sum, US$17 million is likely to be disbursed in grants to support research and to strengthen or create undergraduate degree programmes in science and technology disciplines.

The money will also be used to upgrade and equip Uganda's research laboratories, which the bank says have faced many years of neglect, during which there was virtually no government support for research.

"The World Bank is interested in the project as it wants to assist Uganda develop its science and technological capacity as one of the ways of addressing the government poverty eradication plan," says Michael Crawford, a senior science and technology specialist at the bank.

Crawford told SciDev.Net that the bank is expected to approve the project in November.

Other aspects of the project include small grants available to researchers at universities and research foundations, both public and private, whose proposed projects include training of graduate or undergraduate students.

US$3 million of the fund will be used to support the science and technology community's involvement in policymaking and other activities, such as 'social marketing' of science by high-profile researchers to primary and secondary school students.

It will also help implement a policy on science literacy requirements for all university graduates, which was set by Uganda's National Council on Higher Education.

World Bank Millennium Science Initiative Project (Uganda) documents