World Vision: All about Uganda
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Officially the Republic of Uganda, Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. To the north it borders South Sudan, to the west the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west Rwanda, and to the south, Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region and also lies within the Nile basin and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate. It has a population of over 42 million, of which 8.5 million live in the capital and largest city of Kampala.
Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the UK, which established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from the UK on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by violent conflicts, including an eight-year-long military dictatorship led by Idi Amin.
The official languages are English and Swahili, although "any other language" may be used as a medium of instruction in schools or other educational institutions or for legislative, administrative or judicial purposes.
Uganda's current president is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who took power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war. Following constitutional amendments that removed term limits for the president, he was able to stand and was elected president of Uganda in the 2011, 2016 and in the 2021 general elections.
The country has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. While agriculture accounted for 56 percent of the economy in 1986, with coffee as its main export, it has now been surpassed by the services sector, which accounted for 52 percent of GDP in 2007. In the 1950s, the British colonial regime encouraged some 500,000 subsistence farmers to join co-operatives. Since 1986, the government (with the support of foreign countries and international agencies) has acted to rehabilitate an economy devastated during the regime of Idi Amin and the subsequent civil war.
Since the 1990s, the economy in Uganda is growing but this growth has not always led to poverty reduction and it is one of the poorest nations in the world. In 2012, the World Bank still listed Uganda on the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries list with 37.8 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Despite making enormous progress in reducing the countrywide poverty incidence from 56 percent of the population in 1992 to 24.5 percent in 2009, poverty remains deep-rooted in the country's rural areas, which are home to 84 percent of Ugandans.
People in rural areas of Uganda depend on farming as the main source of income and 90 per cent of all rural women work in the agricultural sector. In addition to agricultural work, rural women are responsible for the caretaking of their families. The average Ugandan woman spends 9 hours a day on domestic tasks, such as preparing food and clothing, fetching water and firewood, and caring for the elderly, the sick as well as orphans. As such, women on average work longer hours than men.
To supplement their income, rural women may engage in small-scale entrepreneurial activities such as rearing and selling local breeds of animals. Nonetheless, because of their heavy workload, they have little time for these income-generating activities. The poor cannot support their children at school and in most cases, girls drop out of school to help in domestic work or to get married. Other girls engage in sex work. As a result, young women tend to have a disproportionate risk of getting affected by HIV.
Maternal health in rural Uganda lags behind national policy targets and the Millennium Development Goals, with geographical inaccessibility, lack of transport and financial burdens identified as key demand-side constraints to accessing maternal health services. As such, interventions like intermediate transport mechanisms have been adopted to improve women's access to maternal health care services in rural regions of the country.
Gender inequality is the main hindrance to reducing women's poverty. Women are subjected to an overall lower social status than men and this reduces their power to act independently, participate in community life, become educated and escape reliance upon abusive men.
The Ugandan response to COVID-19 has forced lockdowns, but these were lifted in September 2021 as case numbers declined. There have been over 3,500 deaths and the vaccination programmes are slow with the hope that 4 million doses will have been delivered by the end of the year, in a population of over 40 million.
From the Mission and Outreach Committee