New Industries UgandaThe Ugandan government recently announced the decision to draft a new national policy that will aid the country’s economic growth and assist in the creation of new industries in Uganda. Such development could draw more investment into the country and bolster the nation as a whole, and the silk industry might be the best way to achieve economic prosperity.

A New National Industrial Policy

In 2008, Uganda’s parliament passed the National Industrial Policy to combat the country’s slow economic growth. The policy was highly anticipated as it aimed to transform the structure of the country as a whole rather than just one specific industry. The National Industrial Policy was not only meant to lead to the creation of new industries in Uganda but it also to lead to the cooperation of the state by providing a plan of action.

Fast forward 10 years and many Ugandan citizens are disappointed with the policy’s impact. By 2018, only 30 percent of the policy has been realized. The main reason for this underachievement is the fact that the policy was not properly implemented. The plan and prediction were that GDP in Uganda would grow to 30 percent, but between 2008 and 2017, it only grew by 18.5 percent. The new policy seeks to rectify this situation by making investment easier, increasing funding to the industrial sector and strengthening existing laws that help industrial development.

Focus on Industrialization

Many economists and politicians believe that industrialization is a key component in lifting countries out of poverty and into a modern, industrial economy. The far-reaching goal of industrialization is to change the system, and such widespread aims can help lead to nationwide development.

One aim of the new industrial policy is the silk industry. Due to the high demand for silk, Uganda is looking to farm silkworms in a process called sericulture to produce more silk. Many hope to expand the silk industry through this new policy. China and India are the ultimate silk producers at this moment, but both are currently experiencing declines. Estimates state that Uganda could make almost $94 million and create up to 50,000 jobs every year in the silk industry; time will tell if such potential can be realized.

The Ugandan government is set to put in about $102 million into this endeavor over the course of five years with the hopes of making about $340 million. While the new national policy seeks the creation of new industries in Uganda, the silk industry has existed in the country before and had been implemented in the 2008 National Industrial Policy. Uganda has grown and produced silk since the 1920s and had had silkworm farms up until the late 1990s. Now, the nation seeks to revitalize the product and its process.

What’s Next?

While this new national policy has yet to be implemented in the Ugandan government, there is still the hope that this policy will create more domestic growth within the nation. It is necessary to wait and see the effects of the policy since the same problems that the 2008 policy faced could still exist. The effects are unknown, but now there is hope that the creation of new industries in Uganda is the start that the country needs.

Isabella Niemeyer
Photo: Flickr
OVERPOPULATION IN UGANDA

Overpopulation is often one of the major causes of poverty. A lack of educational resources along with high death rates often go hand in hand with higher birth rates, resulting in large booms in population growth. The United Nations predicted that the poorest countries in the world are the biggest contributors to population growth. Uganda is one of the poorest developing countries in the world. There are many problems associated with overpopulation In Uganda.

High Fertility Rates

The poorest developing countries are usually the ones with the highest fertility rates and the ones with the least amount of resources to support their population growth. It has been proven that fertility rates in African nations are higher than in Western nations. One of the problems is that more developed nations are the ones that consume most of the resources, leaving the least possible amount to support the populations in African nations.

In addition to this, the lack of sexual education and family planning is a major cause of overpopulation in this region. Only 20 percent of Uganda’s women have access to contraception. Women in Uganda have an average of 7 children, which is higher the African average of 5.1 but more than double that of the global average of 2.7. Ugandan government’s lack of responsibility in improving family planning is a major reason for the country’s exponential population growth.

Population Increases

Presently there are 27.7 million people living in Uganda. By 2025, this number is estimated to double to 56 million people, making Uganda the nation with the world’s biggest population growth (at a rate of 3.3 percent). This kind of growth definitely continues to make resources more scarce in this region of the world. With already 19.5 percent of Uganda’s population living in poverty, efforts to decrease poverty rates will fail unless measures are taken.

As much as 78 percent of the population in Uganda are under the age of 30. Experts say that such big population will be a burden to the economy unless it is transformed into a working force. One major reason for the vast increase in the youth population was a need for family security, often to help with labor. There is minimal industrialization in many developing countries, so people have kids in order to have more help on the farm.

Unemployment and Overpopulation

Currently, 83 percent of young people have no formal employment. This is partly due to low economic growth, slow labor markets, high population growth rates, the rigid education system, rural-urban migration and limited access to capital. This boom in population growth is bound to put pressure on the economy by straining resources if the high birth rates are not controlled.

The major problem of Uganda’s young population is an increasing dependency burden at the household level with a related increase in demand for social services like health and education, which are not growing at the same pace as its population.  For example, classrooms in public schools are overcrowded due to growth in school populations. One cause for the growth in the population has been an increase in unwanted births, leading back to the idea that family planning is an essential part of reducing overpopulation in Uganda.

Solutions to Overpopulation in Uganda

There are many possible solutions to overcoming the overpopulation crisis in Uganda. Experts highlight the need for a long-term plan that focuses on the role of the family, the government, the private sector and society in helping young people to become productive. By reducing the problems with overpopulation in Uganda, the economy will benefit through taxes and more sustained production of goods and services.

Family planning services would reduce fertility levels and increase the proportion of employed adults to young dependents.  Furthermore, promoting family planning by educating men and women about contraception will play a key role in reducing fertility rates. A reduction in “fertility was achieved in the West over the course of a century of female education, national family planning services and the introduction of job opportunities for women.” Therefore, it is important to empower women by giving them access to reproductive health services as well as better economic options. The United Nations aims to tackle this issue by running microcredit projects to turn young women into advocates for reproductive health.

Another solution is government incentives. Governments must promote responsible parenthood and limit subsidies to the first two children unless the family is living in poverty. This can also be accomplished by promoting child spacing and having fewer children. In certain urban regions of the country, there are ads showing happy couples with just one or two children.

Cutting exponential population growth will give Uganda’s natural resources a higher chance of supporting the human burden. Government intervention through family planning by educating people on contraception methods and empowering women by enhancing female education are important steps towards reducing problems associated with overpopulation in Uganda and decreasing poverty.

Mayra Vega

Photo: Google

education Uganda
Education is crucial in the fight to eventually end world poverty. Around the world, there is a correlation between areas of high poverty rates and the low education rates in those areas. In Uganda specifically, more than 80 percent of children attend primary school. However, these numbers plummet to less than 20 percent when it is time for secondary schooling. It has been proven that when children continue on to secondary school, their earning potential as adults dramatically increases, which holistically affects their community as well as lifts them from poverty. But, it is even simpler than that; 171 million people could escape the grasp of poverty by simply providing basic reading skills to children in low-income countries. Such is the power of education in ending world poverty.

One School at a Time

At an organization based in Colorado, Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert have been working tirelessly to improve education in Uganda, a country where poverty strikes hardest and education rates appear high, but the quality is severely lacking. The organization is called “One School at a Time,” and its goal is to provide better educational opportunities for impoverished areas in Uganda. They currently partner with five different schools in Uganda, working with more than 2,250 students using their unique model to invite entire communities to come together.

The main areas of focus include: teaching the existing schools to identify their own needs and develop and implement a five-year plan; securing water, sanitation and menstrual pads for older girls; starting community gardens; providing school lunch programs; training teachers in nonviolent communication and helping first-generation girls avoid early marriage and pregnancy. They have been working to end education poverty in Uganda for 13 years.

Bay Roberts of One School at a Time

The Borgen Project interviewed Bay Roberts about the current situation of “One School.” When asked about the importance of education in the fight against world poverty, Roberts said, “Educated students learn to read and write and do basic math, they learn why it’s so important to wash your hands, they learn how to prevent disease and take care of their bodies, they learn how to plan for their futures and hopefully how to problem solve and how to think […] Current data indicates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, every extra year of schooling can equate to a 10 percent increase in wages throughout life.” Education is not just about reading, writing and math. For these children, it is about teaching them the basics of taking care of themselves as human beings. These skills stay with them throughout their whole lives.

Roberts then spoke specifically about the education of young girls, “Girls who do not have the chance to go to school are the ones that are hurt the most. They are sold early into marriage as parents often do not see the value in educating their daughters. These young women never have the chance to meet their potential, work a paying job, have access to their own money, etc.” Not only are young girls less likely to receive an education, but the impact that they have when they do is larger.

Roberts continued, “Girls who go to school are more likely to enter the workforce, earn higher incomes, delay marriage, plan their families and seek an education for their own children […] Women put 90 percent of their earnings into their families, compared to men’s 40 percent […] The World Bank has found that when a country improves education for girls, its overall per-capita income increases. Improvements in girls’ education lead to higher crop yields, lower HIV infection rates and reduced infant mortality.” In fact, a woman’s income has the potential to increase by 20 percent for every year of school she completes.

Building on Uganda’s Existing Education System

With that being said, the main goal of “One School” is not to provide access to education for children in Uganda. In 1997, Uganda implemented Universal Primary Education, presumably providing access for all children to receive primary education. However, due to woeful underfunding, the schools had almost no resources, direction or ability to educate properly. Therefore, the goal of “One School” is to partner with these underfunded schools and help provide them with tools, resources, and techniques to properly educate their students.  

When speaking about this process, Roberts said, “One School at a Time addresses this situation by working with stakeholders of a selected Ugandan government school to create a 5-year strategic plan to improve their school and then providing support to that school to implement their plan. Typically, in the early stages of the partnership, schools focus on infrastructure improvements: clean on-site water at school, latrines, health and sanitation, new classrooms and teachers quarters. Towards the end of the partnership, schools focus on programs to support older girls to stay in school, teacher training, small income-generating projects and farm and school lunch projects. The overall results are that these schools are markedly improved, stakeholders are energized and happy and students are having a vastly improved educational experience.”

As for the future, “One School at a Time” has plans to expand their programs further throughout Uganda, providing even more students with education and the opportunity for a better life. “Our plan is to expand this network to 10 schools and then replicate this process in another Ugandan district.” It is the hope of the organization that this program, with its capacity for growth, can be used throughout the world, giving every child a chance for success and ending world poverty through education.

– Zachary Farrin
Photo: Flickr

Diabetics in Uganda
Living with Type 1 diabetes is hard. Anyone who lives with it knows that managing this condition requires checking one’s blood sugar multiple times a day, injecting just the right amount of insulin at mealtimes, eating and exercising when appropriate to keep the blood sugar number manageable and keeping plenty of emergency supplies on hand when things inevitably go wrong. However, diabetes is much harder for people living in Uganda, as life-saving supplies in this African nation are expensive and hard to come by. Fortunately, Myabetic, a small retail company helps diabetics in Uganda to earn money and afford these incredibly important supplies.

Diabetes in Uganda

Diabetes is poorly understood in Uganda and is often misdiagnosed as yellow fever, malaria, or cerebral meningitis. Those who are diagnosed correctly are often forbidden from going to school or even work because communities are often scared of their condition. They usually go to clinics once a month to have their blood sugar tested and receive their insulin supplies. However, many people do not give themselves enough insulin because they don’t know their own blood sugar number most of the time, and that is when the real trouble begins.

In Uganda, to be told that one has Type 1 diabetes is to be told that one will live a hard, painful life that will slowly lead to an equally painful death. Most diabetics in Uganda cannot afford the insulin and blood sugar supplies that they need to live. Changing Diabetes in Children used to give diabetic children these supplies for free, but the program was shut down in 2017. Insulin for Life also works to gives supplies to Ugandans who need it. But a shortage remains. To make things even worse the fact remains that without insulin, an individual with Type 1 diabetes will live a week or two at most.

Diabetic Neuropathy

With too little insulin, blood sugar numbers will run high, leading to a host of complications, including diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by having consistently high blood sugar numbers. This is all too common among diabetics in Uganda. There are four types of diabetic neuropathy: peripheral, autonomic, proximal and focal. Peripheral neuropathy causes tingling, numbness, or pain in the feet, legs and occasionally arms. Autonomic neuropathy causes digestive problems- from heartburn to vomiting, dizziness, low blood pressure, faster heartbeat, genital problems in both sexes, either increased or decreased urination and/or bloating. Proximal neuropathy causes weakness in the legs and pain in the thighs, hips, or rear. Focal neuropathy causes muscle weakness, muscle pains, eye pains, double vision, facial paralysis, chest or belly pain and/or severe pain in one specific area. All of these forms of diabetic neuropathy ravage diabetics in Uganda, causing their bodies to slowly shut down due to chronically high blood sugar numbers.

About Myabetic

Myabetic is a retail company founded by Kyrra Richards. When she was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 24, she was embarrassed. She hid her condition from everyone by not checking her blood sugar or doing insulin in public, which threatened her life. Part of the problem was her standard black supply case, which looked ugly and made her fear stigma even more. She founded Myabetic to sell aesthetically pleasing cases and other devices in which to carry diabetes supplies.

Although the company’s main goal is to make diabetics feel better about themselves by giving them prettier carrying cases, they sell other diabetes paraphernalia as well. Among these items are bracelets handcrafted by diabetic artists in Uganda. The bracelets come in red, blue, yellow, and green and they cost $15 each. These profits go directly back to the artists, allowing them to buy the supplies they need to survive.

Life with diabetes is hard. Life with diabetes in Uganda is even worse. Those who do not die are shunned, given barely enough supplies to survive and are left to die. Fortunately, Myabetic helps diabetics in Uganda to afford supplies by selling the bracelets that diabetic Ugandans make. The bracelets may be inexpensive by American standards, but every penny counts when someone needs diabetes supplies to live. Thanks to Myabetic, these Ugandan artists have a new chance to hope for a better life.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in Uganda
More than 10,500 people die from malaria in Uganda annually. The country also has one of the highest rates of transmission and mortality rates due to malaria. Uganda has been described as a malaria-endemic country due to the particular hold the disease has on the area. Globally, Ugandans are one of the top five populations at risk for malaria. Malaria has been a serious health issue for decades and several measures have been taken to lessen the burden of the disease. The government of Uganda is working with several organizations to reduce the spread of malaria in Uganda.

The Uganda Malaria Strategic Plan

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan was implemented in 2014. The goals of the plan include reducing the mortality rate from malaria to almost zero by 2020, reducing the morbidity rate by nearly 80 percent by 2020 and reducing the malaria prevalence of the parasite to 7 percent by 2020. Their strategy is to quickly provide the general population with means of malaria control and prevention.

The plan has had great progress so far, the prevalence of malaria in the country has decreased from 42 percent in 2009 down to 19 percent in 2018, and deaths from malaria in Uganda have been cut in half. Although the plan has done well to ensure facilities are well stocked and prevention measures are taken, some are still receiving inadequate care.

Funding to Eradicate Malaria

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic plan is being implemented by the government’s Ministry of Health and supported by organizations such as the Global Fund and USAID. The plan provides details of its budget and where that money will be implemented. It is projected that the six-year plan will require $1,316,700.

These funds come from organizations like USAID and Global Fund and are used in each phase of the structure of the plan. The phases include but are not limited to ensuring access to malaria treatments and prevention methods, increasing the community’s knowledge surrounding the disease, increasing the treatment of malaria during pregnancy and strengthening the detection and response to this epidemic.

Problems at the Local Level

One of the problems is that some people are receiving the wrong treatment and care. The Moroto Regional Referral Hospital discovered that some patients were being treated for malaria despite negative test results. USAID’s Uganda Health Supply Chain Program has taken steps to change these incorrect medical practices and provide training to improve medical practices at Moroto Hospital.

Their steps have had an impact. The testing rate rose from 45 percent to 86 percent, and the number of patients mistakenly receiving treatment without a positive test result decreased from 31 percent to 9 percent. Other hospitals heard of the success at Moroto Hospital and have expressed interest in undertaking similar policies.

The future for the battle against malaria in Uganda is bright. Uganda won an award in January of 2017 for their significant progress in fighting malaria. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance recognized Uganda and 7 other countries for striving towards a malaria-free Africa. With local governments, leaders and aid organizations working together, permanent progress can be made. The country has already made great strides in their fight against malaria and there is optimism for a malaria-free future in Uganda.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Countries Receiving Economic Aid in 2019
In the fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Federal Government plans on spending $1.24 trillion. Out of this amount, foreign assistance will account for $27 billion. This spending is broken down into several categories including economic development. Approximately $2 billion will be directed toward generating economic growth in developing countries. In the text below, the top five countries receiving the economic aid in 2019 are presented.

Jordan

The first country on the list is Jordan. Jordan will receive $1.27 billion in aid and roughly 48 percent of that money is planned for economic development. The focus of this aid is on a plan called the Microeconomic Foundation for Growth Assistance. The goal of this funding is to create a stable economic landscape that will allow the private sector to invest. This will aid Jordan by creating both monetary and fiscal policies that will allow the government to have a greater control of the economy.

These reforms are needed due to the economic crisis that Jordan is currently facing. Jordan’s debt makes up 94 percent of the country’s GDP. The cost of living has also risen dramatically in the past years. The Economist ranked Amman, the capital of Jordan, as the most expensive Arab city to live in. However, Jordan is working to end its economic crisis. Recently, Jordan received a $723 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and plans to lower the country’s debt to 77 percent of GDP by 2021.  

Afghanistan

The second country on the list is Afghanistan. This country is projected to receive $93 million for economic development. Most of this funds ($57 million), will be aimed toward agricultural development. This money will be focused on the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In 2018, Afghanistan’s GDP increased by five times compared to 2002. However, a large trade deficit threatens Afghanistan’s economy. Most of Afghanistan’s economy relies on imports and this is the main reason why the country needs help in distributing agricultural goods. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided airlifts in 2017 to help export goods to international markets. USAID also provided alternative road transport. In total, this organization helped to move $223 million of goods.  

Kenya

In 2019 Kenya, will receive $624 million of aid from the United States. Out of this amount, 5 percent will be aimed at economic development of the country, totaling $29 million. Almost 80 percent of this money will be for agriculture. Like Afghanistan, the focus of the aid is towards the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In Kenya, agriculture makes up 27 percent of the country’s GDP and it is vulnerable to various kinds of natural disasters, like droughts. In 2014, Kenya reported a national drought emergency and the drought left millions of people vulnerable.

The drought continued to 2018 and USAID is studying the situation and working on solutions to help lessen the impact of the drought. In the period of 2015 to 2017 USAID implemented several programs to help create more drought resistant incentives for farmers. Kenya’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2018, compared to 4.8 in 2017. This is directly related to a better weather situation in the country.

Tanzania

Economic aid directed toward Tanzania is projected to be 1 percent of the aid package, which equals $7 million. This amount will be aimed towards agriculture.

Agriculture makes up for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and around 75 percent the country population is employed in this sector. The United States sees this as an opportunity to increase incomes and living conditions for Tanzanians. USAID has been working on a program in Tanzania known as Feed the Future. This program increases competitiveness, productivity and creates infrastructure so farmers can reach more markets.

In 2017, over 400,000 Tanzanians have benefited from Feed the Future. This is reiterated by the fact that rice productivity doubled per acre and the average gross margins for horticulture reached $3,900 per acre.

Uganda   

Uganda is projected to receive $461 million in 2019. Four percent or almost $19 million are going towards economic development. Majority of this amount is going towards agriculture development.

Like Tanzania, a large percentage of Uganda’s GDP and workforce are concentrated in agriculture. Twenty-four percent of the country’s GDP is made up of agriculture and farming employs two-thirds of the population.

USAID implemented the Feed the Future Program in Uganda as well. One of the most important initiatives was implementing an e-verification sticker in fruits sold that was intended for keeping track of purchase inputs. This initiative is aimed at combating the $1 billion loss that Uganda faces from counterfeit inputs on yearly basis. It also laid private investors consciences to rest, since they invested over $6 million in Uganda’s agricultural business in 2016.

In summary, the top five countries receiving the economic aid from the U.S. in 2019 are Jordan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The United States government invests billions of dollars every year into foreign aid. One of the best ways to use that money is to invest in economic development, which helps improve the conditions of people living in developing countries.

Economic stability is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring safety across the world. 

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

Child Refugees in Uganda
With a mass exodus from South Sudan, Uganda has become the largest refugee-host nation in Africa. Both 2017 and 2018 saw a significant influx of refugees into the country. Experts believe the number of refugees is only going to increase in the upcoming period.

As more and more refugees enter Uganda, its basic services and resources are continuously put under increased stress. Child refugees in Uganda have become a very significant issue facing the Ugandan government and international organizations. However, government and different organizations teamed up to initiate a long-term plan to help refugee and native-born children alike.

The Problem in Numbers

As of early 2018, there were over one million refugees from South Sudan and 300,000 from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other closely neighboring countries in Uganda. Out of these 1.3. million, its estimated that 61 percent are children.

Due to a shortage of aid workers, funding and supplies refugee children face severe consequences such as virus and disease outbreaks. The Ugandan Ministry of Health alongside the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Funds (UNICEF) were able to successfully stop a Marburg virus outbreak in refugee camps. Despite this achievement, there are growing concerns about measles, malaria and cholera.

Many child refugees in Uganda face little access to education. Only 35 percent of 5-year-olds entering primary schooling were enrolled in any sort of educational programs provided by nonprofit organizations or by the Ugandan government.

Extremely high acute malnutrition rates ranged from 14.9 percent to 21.5 percent among new arrivals, with some areas experiencing a 2 percent growth in malnutrition rates in 2018.

There is a high number of unaccompanied children that are often the most vulnerable with little to no support from adult-aged persons. These children can be easily forced into armed groups or sex slavery.

The Northern Region of Uganda is responsible for most of the refugees and has also experienced challenges for the local children. For instance, 24 percent of females older than 15 are illiterate, 17 percent of school-aged children are out of school, 53 out of 1000 children die before their fifth birthday and 21 percent of Ugandans live in poverty.

Nongovernmental Organizations Efforts

While the refugee crisis has proven to be a great challenge for Uganda, the country has chosen to commit its resources in order to protect and provide for the vulnerable population living alongside the local population. Three international organizations have begun long-term projects in order for the Ugandan government to reform the country and better care for refugees and native populations alike.

Save the Children

Save the Children is the largest global charity for children started in the United States. The nonprofit has worked alongside the U.N. in implementing their programs throughout Northern Uganda. As of 2017, Save the Children oversaw six refugee sites, an emergency health unit teamed up the Ugandan Ministry of Health and 30 child-friendly spaces and educational facilities. Moreover, additional programs extended beyond refugee camps to encompass local communities with the goal of increasing child protection, education and food and economic security.

According to their 2017 report, 66,114 children were given shelter, 89,790 were cared for in crisis situations, 312,790 were provided with medical and sanitation supplies, 20,169 were raised from malnutrition and 3,154 parents were supported to meet the basic needs of their children.

UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has primarily focused its attention on identifying refugee populations and supporting unaccompanied children. Working in close collaboration with the Ugandan government, the agency’s largest biometric data in history was launched in 2017. The point of recording refugees and providing identification for them is to better plan and situate resources and responses. If aid groups know exactly where vulnerable populations are and what are their circumstances, then professionals will respond more effectively and efficiently. To this date, over one million refugees have been identified.

As children spill across the border without adult supervision, extra resources are needed for their protection. The UNHCR has created and built settlements where older children are the heads of the household and they are provided with shelter, protection, education and basic services. However, staff shortages have proven difficult to monitoring these children at all times.

UNICEF

UNICEF has taken a lead role in helping child refugees in Uganda by directing programs between the Ugandan government and active nonprofits. Unfortunately, the agency only received 30 percent of requested funding in 2017. Despite these shortages, 61 percent of total targets were still met in nutrition (741,436 children aided), health (667,050), sanitation (463,480), protection (13,821), education (119,059) and HIV & AIDS (4,630).

With these results in mind, UNICEF has ambitious goals going forward. In 2018, the organization is expecting a final requested funding of more than $66 million. This funding will be focused on education, health, water and sanitation, nutrition, protection and HIV/AIDS.

Furthermore, the agency is beginning the planning of a long-term and collaborative program between nonprofits, the Ugandan government and international agencies. The basic provisions of the program include the dispersion of technological supplies and know-how, national educational and health strategies linked with refugees and the strengthening of emergency response teams. For example, m–Tac, a mobile app recently introduced to Uganda, allows agencies to send vital information to field teams during crises.

Humanitarian groups and the Ugandan government are launching some of the world’s largest refugee programs. The question of receiving refugees has long been about how to best protect them from harm and danger. The child refugees in Uganda certainly have a long path ahead of them, but they won’t have to walk on alone.

– Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Uganda
Life expectancy in Uganda has significantly improved in the past decade. Ugandan men born in 2016 are now projected to live 59.8 years, and women have a life expectancy of 64.8 years. This is a marked increase from 2000 when Uganda’s average life expectancy was only 47 years.

The higher rate of life expectancy correlates to more expected years of schooling (11.6 years) and an improved Human Development Index (HDI) value, a summary measure that assesses the long-term progress of a given nation. In 2017, Uganda’s HDI value was 0.516, a substantial 66 percent jump from 1990.

Raising the Life Expectancy Rate

The Ugandan government is working proactively to raise the life expectancy rate even more in the future. In conjunction with The Family Planning Association of Uganda, its initiatives include lowering the population growth rate from 3 percent to 2.6 percent, improving the current population’s physical and mental health as well as social standards and implementing fertility reduction measures. The government additionally plans to incorporate sex education in schools, maternity and paternity benefits and raising the legal marriage age.

The government’s efforts to limit population growth have proven to be effective. “[B]ecause they have smaller families than in the 1980s that makes them enjoy some kind of mental peace and increase their life expectancy,” said Paul Nyende, the head of The Institute of Community Psychology at Makerere University. He also added, “People had an average of eight children in those years, but the number has now been reduced to four because they are sure of their children’s survival.”

Life expectancy in Uganda is steadily improving, but there is much work to be done. Uganda has not yet met the threshold of a developed country. Even with Uganda’s improved HDI, the East African country still remains low in the development category when compared to the 70 years or more found in developed countries.

Issues That Need to Be Addressed

The country’s health care continues to be among the worst in the world. In fact, according to The World Health Organization, Uganda is ranked 186 out of 191 nations. This has gotten worse in recent years since many of Uganda’s hospitals have closed and a large number of medical personnel have left the country for better opportunities.

“Communicable diseases like HIV, malaria and lower respiratory infections are still taking the lives of far too many Ugandans. Children are at particular risk, and neonatal ailments like sepsis, pre-term birth and encephalopathy have killed thousands of infants. There is still a lot of work to be done…” said Dr. Dan Kajungu, Executive Director of Makerere University Centre for Health and Population Research (MUCHAP).

However, Uganda has already set itself up as a global example in regards to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Uganda continues to successfully combat HIV/AIDS with a comprehensive strategy involving abstinence, partner reduction and barrier protection, all resulting in the reduction of HIV to a manageable level since the early 2000s. This is in contrast to rising HIV rates in many other countries and has played a key part in Uganda’s improvements to life expectancy.

Furthermore, improvements have been made in the health sector in regards to maternal and child mortality rates, which have dropped from 488 to 336 per 1000 for maternal and 54 to43 per 1000 infant. Immunizations are up as well. At least 72 percent of children will receive measles vaccination before their first birthday.

Going forward, in order to continue increasing life expectancy rates in Uganda, the government must entice skilled Ugandans living abroad to return as well as provide opportunities for people currently living in the country, like education and better career options. If the same rapid acknowledgment is given to other areas of concern in national health, life expectancy in Uganda can only rise.

The government is taking steps in the meantime to nurture their health sector despite the imminent challenges. Goals include movement towards universal health coverage, bolstering immunization rates and having prepared responses to disease outbreaks. The future is promising, and Uganda’s ministry of health expects further improvement as other initiatives take deeper root.

– Yumi Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is one of several located in Northern Uganda and covers an area mass of 250 square kilometers. It is the biggest refugee camp in the world and houses over 270,000 refugees. Most of the refugees come from South Sudan, a country that gained independence in 2013 but witnessed a new wave of instability and famine in 2016, forcing over 1.6 million South Sudanese to flee their homes. Out of the 1.6 million, 800,000 fled to Uganda. Uganda has one of the most compassionate refugee policies, allowing people to set up their own homes, and refugees are given the right to work and travel, which is uncommon. Uganda has, therefore, become a hot spot for refugees, which has brought an economic strain on the nation, forcing it to rely on humanitarian assistance to sustain millions of refugees.

Who Are the Bidi Bidi

The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is home to a mostly South Sudanese population. Many of the inhabitants of Bidi Bidi fled because of the threat of murder or imprisonment from rebels or government soldiers. Having left their homes, often walking for days at a time, they arrive at the settlement center with nothing more than the clothes on their back. The process of becoming a refugee is often slow and hectic, but basic needs are met in a timely manner thanks to the NGOs and volunteers’ tremendous effort and funds that have been dedicated to making this refugee camp more livable.

Insecurities

Many of the inhabitants are affected by disease, predominantly malaria and HIV/AIDS. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes breed in wet environments, and due to the rains in Uganda, no one is safe from malaria. Therefore, it is imperative that these settlements have proper access to medical aid and resources to ensure the well-being of refugees. In addition to a lack of medical resources, malnutrition affects most of the population of Bidi Bidi and the rest of Uganda. The Ugandan government has been under pressure to provide food for those malnourished, but it is almost impossible without humanitarian aid and support.

Opportunities in Bidi Bidi

Each organization working within the Ugandan settlement camps and Bidi Bidi offers different and varied opportunities for refugees to support themselves and regain a sense of normalcy. Caritas is an organization aimed at promoting justice and helping the poor, and they have mobilized efforts to give aid to the people of Bidi Bidi. Depending on which zone of the camp refugees live in, some receive a plot of land, agricultural tools and seeds to begin to sustain themselves and create opportunities for businesses.

Many women in Bidi Bidi have access to psycho-social support and empowerment resources that have been set up within the camp. The U.N. has created a system of revolving funds, meaning that funds are replenished when used, which allows women to learn vocational skills such as hairdressing and helping women build their own businesses. This leads to empowerment and creates a sense of stability in an unstable world.

The Future of the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement

The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is the largest of its kind in the world, it uses what it can to create and offer opportunities and resources to refugees, so they may live more independently. It focuses on rehabilitation and independence and creates a sense of hope for the future of the inhabitants of Bidi Bidi. The unrest and violence in South Sudan still create thousands of refugees on a daily basis. The long-term solution is to achieve peace in South Sudan, so people can return home. However, in the short-term, it is imperative that Uganda receives humanitarian aid to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its inhabitants.

– Trelawny Robinson 
Photo: Flickr

UgandaUganda has rich, fertile soil and ample rainfall, and 82 percent of Uganda’s population work in agriculture. Despite these factors, which should lead to a surplus of food, Uganda still struggles with widespread hunger. This small country has a fast-growing population that is expected to reach 100 million by 2050. International nongovernment organizations (NGOs) are working hard to make sure Uganda will be able to feed its people. It is important to be informed in order to help, so here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Uganda.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Uganda

  1. Uganda’s poverty rate declined from 31 percent in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013. However, massive population growth in northern and eastern regions was significant; therefore, the actual number of people living in poverty did not decrease much at all.
  2. Approximately 84 percent of Ugandans live in rural communities and rely on agriculture for food and their livelihoods. This can make families vulnerable to weather cycles and natural disasters that can affect crop yields. Even if families can produce surplus food, they often do not have the means to reliably store their surplus.
  3. Food storage facilities are so inadequate that approximately 30 percent of food stored is lost. Facilities do not adequately protect food stores from pests, moisture or mold. Lack of reliable storage contributes to overall food insecurity and hunger in Uganda, especially during seasons with light rainfall.
  4. Approximately 21 percent of Ugandans do not have access to clean water, which impedes people’s ability to stay hydrated, avoid disease and cook meals. The Hunger Project has been working in Uganda to increase the number of facilities where people can access clean water and safely dispose of waste.
  5. Uganda has hosted more refugees than any other African country with 1.3 million refugees in 2017, primarily from South Sudan and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The additional mouths to feed have severely strained Uganda’s food resources, and both malnutrition and anemia run rampant in refugee settlements.
  6. The most common foods in Uganda are matoke and posho, which are both very poor in vitamins. The lack of nutritious foods and balanced diets has led to high rates of malnutrition and related diseases such as vitamin deficiencies, stunting and anemia. This deficiency actually ends up costing the state a great deal of money.
  7. Malnutrition costs Uganda $899 million per year, in other words, 5.6 percent of its national income. Poor nutrition affects work productivity the most, reducing the physical capacities of the laborers. This ended up costing Uganda $317 million in 2009. Malnutrition-related health treatments have further cost Uganda $254 million.
  8. For children, malnutrition is even more dangerous. Between 2004 to 2009, around 110,220 children died of malnutrition. A large part of the problem is that 82 percent of cases of child malnutrition in Uganda go untreated, accounting for 15 percent of child mortality cases in the country.
  9. Approximately 29 percent of children under the age of five are stunted, meaning they are too short for their ages. Stunting is a result of undernourishment and malnutrition and can lead to a number of other physical and mental health problems. More than half of the adult population in Uganda was stunted during childhood.
  10. Undernourished children are more likely to drop out of school or repeat academic years. An estimated 133,000 Ugandan children per year have to repeat grades. Uganda’s government released a report in 2013 that said, “When the child is undernourished, that child’s brain is less likely to develop at healthy rates, and that child is more likely to have cognitive delays.” Children in poverty have even less of a chance of getting out of poverty if they cannot get an education.

Addressing the Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Uganda

A number of NGOs are working to reduce hunger in Uganda, such as Farm Africa (FA) and The World Food Programme (WFP). Both FA and WFP target Ugandan farmers to help increase their crops and process surpluses while improving the sustainability of the land. WFP also works to improve crisis responses by providing food and cash aid, helps to build resilience by providing important skills training and works with the government to provide nutritious meals to school children.

Two other organizations, The Hunger Project (THP) and Action Against Hunger (AAH), have already reached hundreds of thousands of people in Uganda. THP works in 494 villages to decrease poverty. They have helped 287,807 people access basic services by building sustainable and self-reliant communities around 11 epicenters.

AAH works in refugee centers and has helped 597,390 people in 2017 alone, focusing on nutrition, water, sanitation, livelihoods and food security. The health centers provided in Uganda work with families to screen for malnutrition and provide information on nutrition to prevent cases of under-nourished children.

Uganda has a long road ahead in its efforts to reduce poverty and hunger. By being aware of the underlying causes, NGOs and governments can work together to implement solutions. Providing sustainable farming practices, clean water and sanitation and access to medical treatment are key steps in alleviating hunger in Uganda

 

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr