Betty Bigombe

Betty Bigombe, former State Minister for Water Resources in the Ugandan cabinet and elected Member of Parliament (MP) representing Amuru District Women's Constituency, is now the Senior Director for the Fragility, Conflict and Violence at the World Bank. Ms. Bigombe is best known for her efforts to create peace in northern Uganda.  She tirelessly played the role of chief mediator, peace advocate and advisor to the warring factions, and became a voice for the people of northern Uganda during and after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war with the government of Uganda.

Ms. Bigombe was appointed as a minister to parliament in 1986. In 1988 she was selected Minister of State for Pacification of north and northeastern Uganda, and tasked with seeking a peaceful means to end the war with the LRA. Following the failure of numerous military interventions, Ms. Bigombe initiated contact with rebel leader Joseph Kony at the height of the war in May 1992 to persuade him to agree to a negotiated settlement of the conflict. She then made a daring visit to his camp that eventually led to the peace talks of 1993/4, known today as the “Bigombe talks.” In 1994, she was named “Uganda’s Woman of the Year” for her efforts to end the violence. A decade later, following the Barlonyo Massacre in 2004, Ms. Bigombe took a leave of absence from the World Bank to return to Uganda and restart the peace talks. She served as the chief mediator between the government of Uganda and the LRA from March 2004 to April 2005.  This mediation laid the groundwork for the Juba peace talks in 2006.