- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 28, 2002

KAMPALA, Uganda Irish rock star Bono belted out the Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road" to schoolchildren, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill gently lifted 7-year-old Sula Bulela onto his lap yesterday as the most publicized roadshow in Africa entered its second week.

American comedian Chris Tucker joined Mr. O'Neill and Bono in Uganda, where the three visited a protected spring, a health center and the Kisimbiri primary school to see how savings from a debt-relief program have improved the lives of ordinary Ugandans.

At the spring, which has been protected by barbed wire and a concrete barrier from thirsty cattle with funds that would have been spent paying off Uganda's foreign debt, Mr. O'Neill explained to Mr. Tucker that people were originally wary of tampering with it for fear the water would dry up.

At nearby Wakiso health center, Mr. O'Neill washed his hands before administering polio vaccine to several babies.

District Medical Officer Emmanuel Mukisa told him how savings from debt relief have been used to build a new maternity ward, an operating room and a residence for doctors.

"We used to have a problem of doctors leaving public service for the private sector, where work benefits were more attractive," Mr. Mukisa said. "Now the reverse is true after debt relief enabled us to improve health services."

The tour grew out of Mr. O'Neill's skepticism about the effectiveness of the billions of aid dollars Africa has received since the 1960s and Bono's determination to show him that aid can make a difference if properly administered.

In a speech later yesterday at Makerere University, Mr. O'Neill told the audience he had come with an open mind.

"The questions for us, and for our time, is how can the people of the African nations and their elected leaders create prosperity and how can the people of the United States and other industrialized countries best support their efforts?"

Adding that although he didn't have the answer, Mr. O'Neill said he did believe in development assistance "that makes a difference in people's lives."

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