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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
African and Welsh towns twin up
View of Mbale
The town is in the foothills of Mount Elgon in Uganda
A south Wales valleys town is twinning with a town in east Africa with the aim of helping it develop.

Pontypridd is linking up with the Ugandan town of Mbale and organisers hope for exchanges at every level.

Doctors, teachers and engineers from Pontypridd are to be involved.

Town council leader Byron Jones said: "It's about recognising what people in Uganda have achieved and moving away from the idea of just sending small amounts of aid."

The group behind the scheme say they want to help develop the infrastructure of Mbale.

There are plans to improve medical services in the town after it was revealed that just four doctors serve 750,000 people which means that many go without any life-saving help.

Doctor Geoff Lloyd is one of the organisers from Pontypridd and has visited the town four times.

"Most people go without health care and around 150 children out of every 1,000 will die before they reach the age of five.

The Ugandan and Welsh flags
We want to try and twin up every level of society in order to help Mbale help itelself
Dr Geoff Lloyd

"One of the main problems is malaria so we are hoping that we can link up with the existing medical services and help improve the distribution of anti-malaria tablets which would be provided by Pontypridd.

"We also want to be able to provide every household with mosquito nets," he said.

Dr Lloyd said that other services would be twinned up under the scheme including the schools and churches.

"We are also hoping to link up engineers from here with there so that they can find ways of getting clean water in Mbale.

"We want to try and twin up every level of society in order to help Mbale help itself."

Mr Jones, the leader of Pontypridd Town Council added: "It's about friendship more than help of a monetary nature".

People from Pontypridd meeting people from Mbale
People from Pontypridd have been on visits to Mbale

The official launch of the twinning takes place on Wednesday at 1830 BST in Pontypridd and co-incides with the first day of the G8 summit in which world leaders are being urged to tackle global poverty through dropping third world debt, fair trade and better aid.

Mbale is Uganda's third largest town, set in the foothills of Mount Elgon in the east of the country. It is about three hours drive from the capital, Kampala.

Since the late 1980s Uganda has rebounded from the abyss of civil war and economic catastrophe to become a model of relative peace, stability and even some prosperity.

In the 1970s and 1980s Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin from 1971 to 1979 and then after the return to power of Milton Obote, who had been ousted by Amin.

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