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

Uganda 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

Hunger in UgandaLocated between South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, while also struggling against the Lord’s Resistance Army, hunger in Uganda is a major issue that the country, as well as 800,000 refugees, are facing every day. Uganda as a whole produces more food than it consumes, but because of the prevalence of poverty in the country, many of its 39 million people cannot afford to buy all of the food they need.

Only 4 percent of households in Uganda have had food security over the past six years. This is related to the food shortages and destitute diets that have also come from dealing with climate change, urbanization, the inconsistencies of Ugandan policies and poor public financing.

Hunger in Uganda has also been caused by the lack of water. A growing population has led to stresses on water and sanitation services. 24 million people in rural areas do not have access to water, which has increased the incidence of water-related diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery. Each week, 30,000 deaths are caused by unsafe water.

The lack of food has led to malnutrition among children, including refugees. It has been estimated that 33 percent of children under five are enduring chronic undernourishment and stunted growth. Only one in three children actually have food to eat during the day, while stunting affects 29 percent of children and rises to 40 percent in certain areas and among refugees.

Organizations like Action Against Hunger have made efforts to help Uganda. They focus on nutrition, health and care practices, and have helped 148,420 people. They have been able to reach some of the most vulnerable children in refugee settlements and treat life-threatening malnutrition. Action Against Hunger has helped strengthen the local capacity while training locals to be able to provide treatment. They have plans to help prevent malnutrition as well as to gather more information on malnutrition in order to prevent it in the future.

The World Food Programme also helps Uganda by providing cash and food assistance to people in need. They have also set up the “cash/food-for-work” program to ensure there is food during the lean seasons. This program helps communities build tree farms, orchards, irrigation systems, water ponds and dams to help them better endure droughts.

While the poverty rate in Uganda has declined from 31 to 19.7 percent, the fact that the population is still growing means that the number of poor people has not decreased. To combat this, the work the aforementioned groups are doing is vital to help Ugandans become self-sufficient in growing food and end hunger in Uganda.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr