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The Main Causes of Poverty in Uganda

Poverty in Uganda
Although Uganda is a Sub-Saharan African country with one of the highest rates of poverty reduction, the country remains among the poorest in the world. According to a 2016 poverty assessment, poverty in Uganda reduced significantly between 2006 and 2013. The number of Ugandans living below the poverty line declined from 31.1 percent in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013.

The issue now is the sustainability of this poverty reduction, as Uganda is lacking important non-monetary resources. These include sufficient sanitation, access to electricity, health and well-being, education and nutrition. Discussed below are the causes of poverty in Uganda and their implications.


4 Leading Causes of Poverty in Uganda


  1. Safety net programs are of limited availability in Uganda, which increases the vulnerability of households to fall back into poverty. In 2013, it was reported that only one percent of Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on social security. This percentage is much lower than the 2.8 percent average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Due to this lack of social security, 35 percent of Ugandans rely on their life savings and 25 percent rely on their family. This makes falling back into poverty highly likely for a majority of people.
  2. Diseases are another cause of poverty in Uganda. Infant and child mortality rates remain high, with 131 deaths per 1,000 births. Families in Uganda are often large. With the lack of finances and resources, larger families are highly likely to fall below the poverty line. Poor health also reduces a family’s work productivity, causing poverty to be passed down through generations.
  3. Agriculture contributed to 79 percent of poverty reduction in Uganda between 2006 and 2013, but there is still much room for improvement. Though a large portion of the population earns its livelihood through agriculture, there is still an excess in labor opportunities. Further improvement in productivity of agriculture is necessary to provide more work and bring people out of poverty.
  4. Due to a high dependency on work in agriculture and the informal sector, there is a lack of skilled labor among Ugandans. Without skilled labor, it is challenging for Uganda to obtain important non-monetary resources and narrows subsistence options. This also causes a deficiency in forward mobility, which preserves poverty.

The persistence of poverty in Uganda, despite significant poverty reduction, conveys the need for further governmental assistance and global contribution. To sustain poverty reduction for developing nations, more attention to foreign aid policy is needed.

Haley Hurtt

Photo: Flickr