Hunger in Uganda
The landlocked country of Uganda is located in East Africa. Poised to be a significant oil-producing country, Uganda has an estimated 6.5 billion barrels worth of oil reserves in its territory. Nevertheless, Uganda remains a lower-income country. The people of the country have struggled to combat hunger in Uganda even though poverty decreased from 56% in 1993 to 21.4% in 2016. Because of poverty, Uganda faces widespread malnutrition, which has led to more than 110,000 deaths of children between 2004 and 2009. Organizations have committed efforts to address the issue of hunger in Uganda.

4 Key Facts About Hunger in Uganda

  1. Uganda has a fast-growing population due to refugee intake. The refugee population in Uganda has increased from 200,000 in 2012 to more than 1.2 million. As a whole, these refugees are coming from Uganda’s neighbors, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is partly because of Uganda’s willingness to accept and aid refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has praised the country’s refugee policies. Rather than placing refugees in designated camps, Uganda gives refugees a plot of land and access to services such as healthcare and education. As benevolent as these policies are, the rise in Uganda’s refugee population strains already limited resources and funds.
  2. Dependence on agriculture increases hunger in Uganda. In order to reduce malnutrition, there has been a focus on increased agricultural output globally. The rate of global agricultural production has increased, but the level of undernourishment in developing countries remains at 13.5%. In Uganda, for example, agriculture makes up 25% of the GDP and it provides the main source of income for all rural households. But, despite this agricultural output, Uganda still suffers from a 30% malnutrition rate. A study conducted in Eastern Uganda finds that some rice cultivators starve as they sell all the food. While the effects vary, agricultural reliance in Uganda has increased supply, but access to food has not necessarily increased. This leads to high levels of food insecurity.
  3. Hunger in Uganda has significant economic impacts. The effects of malnutrition extend far past the immediate deaths it causes, having substantial and negative consequences for the economy at large. Specifically, malnutrition negatively impacts “human capital, economic productivity and national development.” High rates of malnutrition require healthcare intervention, which puts strain on the healthcare sector and economy. Moreover, malnutrition makes individuals more prone to diseases, incurring costs to families and the health system. Undernourished children are more susceptible to diseases like malaria and anemia, which can burden the country with a cost of $254 million annually. Overall, the national income is reduced by 5.6% as a result of the undernourishment of young children stemming from hunger in Uganda.
  4. International aid organizations address hunger in Uganda. Aid organizations are committing to creating significant progress in the fight against hunger in Uganda. The World Food Programme (WFP) has dedicated efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition in Uganda. Among other activities, the WFP initiatives provide nutrition-sensitive money transfer as well as nutrition counseling in the areas of Uganda most affected by malnutrition. Action Against Hunger provides nutritious food vouchers to refugees and implements digital, data-driven technology to optimize agricultural production. To date, Action Against Hunger’s nutrition and health programs have reached more than 110,000 people. Moreover, the government has joined multiple international commitments to reduce hunger in Uganda. As a signatory of the Malabo Declaration, by 2035, Uganda seeks to reduce the impacts of childhood malnutrition to 10% for stunting in children younger than 5 and 5% for wasting.

Overall, the efforts of organizations and the commitment of the Ugandan Government show a strong dedication to combating hunger in Uganda and improve the lives of people in the country.

Kendall Carll
Photo: Flickr