Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Uganda
Countries across the world face the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting a regression in many key areas of development, such as health, education, food security and the economy. While some countries are successfully rebounding, others, particularly lower-income countries, are still struggling to contain COVID-19 within their borders and regain economic footing. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Uganda is particularly significant as the pandemic has led to a suffering economy, and consequently, higher unemployment and hunger rates.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Uganda

According to the World Bank, Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.1% in 2020. Furthermore, the Ugandan Finance Ministry reports that during the first six months of 2021, the poverty rate in Uganda stood at 28%, increasing from the pre-pandemic poverty level of 18%. The Finance Ministry also notes that about 75% of Ugandans “lost at least some income” due to the onset of COVID-19. Furthermore, the unemployment rate rose “to 2.44% in 2020 from 1.80% in 2019.” The unemployment rate was set to increase further to 2.5% by the close of 2021.

Uganda’s GDP stood at 3.3% during 2021, however, experts predict that the GDP could rise to 4.6% in 2022 and 6.4% in 2023 as “domestic demand” increases and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout intensifies. In order to keep the economy of Uganda growing and recovering for years to come, the World Bank recommends stimulus packages to “sustainably increase productivity and build resilience to enhance livelihoods, the economy and general well-being.”

The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Labor in Uganda

In May 2021, Human Rights Watch released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on “child labor in Ghana, Nepal and Uganda” called “I Must Work to Eat.” Due to pandemic-induced increases in poverty as well as country-wide school shutdowns, HRW notes a spike in child labor in many countries. School closures affect not only the education of children but also cut off access to free school meals, which are sometimes the only source of food for impoverished children.

Just 28 children out of “81 children interviewed” have reported receiving household government assistance during COVID-19, specifically, food assistance. With no other means of securing their families’ basic needs, these children were thrust into child labor to earn an income to ensure the survival of their families. The children report facing exploitative and dangerous working conditions for long hours and little or no pay.

Aid from the Danish Government

During the pandemic, vaccine inequities became apparent with disproportionate impacts on developing nations. Recognizing that widespread vaccination is essential to the recovery of a nation, in December 2021, the Danish government sent Uganda 742,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This donation will contribute to vaccinating all Ugandans 18 and older, equating to 22 million people or 50% of the population. Widespread vaccination will not only take the strain off Uganda’s health care system but will also allow the education sector and the economy to fully reopen.

With ongoing support from the international community, citizens can successfully recover from the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Uganda. Diplomatic efforts from countries such as Denmark bring hope to impoverished Ugandans for a brighter tomorrow.

– Sierrah Martin
Photo: Flickr

Batwa People Facing Extreme Poverty
Being among the poorest populations in one of the poorest nations, Uganda, the Batwa people face extreme poverty in their everyday life. Once known to live in the depths of the African forests as one of the oldest indigenous tribes in the continent, they now reside in town slums. Many have come to wonder how a population that thrived for centuries started resorting to scavenging garbage cans for their next meal.

The Forest: A True Loss For The Batwa

In 1991, the Ugandan government “reclassified lands of the Batwa” to national parks. This move forced many Batwa people to relocate from their homes, sometimes by gunpoint. A 2008 report indicated that 45% of the Batwa people were landless and lived in poverty.

The Batwa people went from a community that once thrived in hunting and gathering to now struggling to find means of survival. The report also highlighted that many Batwa people are seeking work from foreign people under “bonded labor agreements,” resulting in them experiencing discrimination from “their ethnic neighbors.”

In addition, it is important to note that the Batwa people have lost more than their home; the forest was their place of worship and healing. With strong “spiritual and religious ties to the forest,” Batwa people have lost a significant part of their history and livelihood that provided them with herbal remedies when members became sick. The forest was incredibly significant to the lives and culture of the Batwa people.

The Batwa People’s Current Conditions

As aforementioned, some Batwa work for foreign people who are not part of their tribe. Others make a living from performing for tourists who visit the country. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been limited travel of tourists which means that many Batwa people lost their income, resulting in poverty. Due to these circumstances, many Batwa have resorted to “eating from garbage bins” to stay alive.


With the massive displacement that took the place of the Batwa, their community is shrinking more and more as time goes by. With little to no resources to stay alive, extinction is knocking on their door. Furthermore, tourism is a key component to the Batwa people’s survival.

To keep the community going, Uganda is encouraging local tourism where the Batwa people are now giving tours of the Ugandan national parks, a place they once called home. With a keen knowledge of this territory, the Batwa people are the perfect tour guides for the forests.

Additionally, Uganda contains an impressive gorilla population that many people travel to see in person. Having shared the forest with them for centuries, the Batwa tour guides introduce visitors to this impressive species with respect and caution. Such tours, which now target even local tourists, offer a memorable experience that is a “culturally sensitive” visit whose proceeds go to people who truly need them.

The Takeaway

It is incredibly important to bring awareness to the Batwa tribe who live in extreme poverty and could disappear after centuries in the forest. With the modernization of their territory, this community has suffered a great loss of their home and livelihood and now faces extreme poverty and famine.

By supporting their efforts to survive through tourism and lobbying the Ugandan government to aid displaced peoples, this community could find hope again.

– Kler Teran
Photo: Flickr