Humanitarians have been working for decades to assist Uganda in times of crisis. From political to social and environmental issues, residents of Uganda have seen foreign aid change the lives of many citizens in the country.

With a steadily increasing population, foreign aid in Uganda allows people in the country — who may otherwise be overlooked — to have better accessibility to the resources they need.


Uganda has a steadily increasing population, which is commonly seen in countries affected by poverty. This increase occurs because families tend to have more children to support the family as they get older, and is often an indicator of the amount of foreign aid that is needed. In 1960, according to the World Bank Group, Uganda had a population of 6,788,241 people; between 1960 and 2016, the population rose to 41,487,965.

According to Irish Aid, 38 percent of people in Uganda live on $1.25 per day. In addition, the Human Rights Watch World Report of 2017 explains that Uganda faces many issues as far as freedoms for protesters, media officials and several forms of identity including associations people make between themselves and social organizations.

One way foreign aid in Uganda assists people is by allowing them to gain more autonomy over their lives. Better access to healthcare and improved living conditions results in more power and strength of citizens.


USAID has been influential as far as the versatile kinds of aid the organization has offered to Uganda over the last few years. One of the forms of aid offered was assisting refugees during the Northern Uganda War.

According to USAID, 1.8 million people were displaced. Due to the foreign assistance that USAID was able to provide the organization states that, “Since 2007, all internally displaced people have returned home. USAID also assisted war-affected children and unemployed youth with tools and access to training to gain better access to income-generating activities.”

Economic Health

The Department of Foreign Affairs Irish Aid (for Uganda) recognizes the importance of agriculture to the health of economy in Uganda. Although improvements have been made as far as health and economic stability, the organization recognizes that the country could still benefit from improvement, especially as far as equal industrial opportunity:

Most people live in rural areas and make their living from agriculture. Although Uganda has had consistently high economic growth rates and a strong record in the response to HIV and AIDS, it has struggled to ensure that all its citizens benefit equally.”

USAID has also been influential in improving the health of the economy which, according to the organization, has increased jobs for women who make up the majority of the farming population in Uganda: USAID helped Uganda diversify their traditional crops from coffee, cotton and tea to non-traditional crops such as flowers.”

The efforts of organizations contributing to foreign aid in Uganda make a difference in improving economic stability and opportunity.


Healthcare is an important component of foreign aid in Uganda in numerous ways. Not only are healthcare officials able to assist refugees, but in times of political crisis, healthcare workers are able to save the lives of people who are affected by brutality and force; in Uganda, brutality is a reality that many people face.

According to the Human Rights Watch 2017 Report, the Lord’s Resistance Army’s leader “is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity as part of attacks on internally displaced persons’ camps, including murder, enslavement, sexual and gender-based crimes, and the conscription of child soldiers.”

Although the government is working to address these crimes by holding leaders accountable under law, many people were still affected by this leader’s brutality before he was called for trial.

Healthcare workers and access to healthcare gives people a way to combat and bounce back from some of the brutality they fight against every day. USAID has also been influential in improving the healthcare available to people living in Uganda, including providing tools to combat insects, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr

ugandan private sector
USAID attempts to artificially prop up Uganda’s floundering public health care system have fallen flat, largely due to Uganda’s unwillingness to accept foreign aid. USAID has responded by investing in the Ugandan private sector instead.

After signing the internationally condemned anti-homosexuality bill into law, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declared that, “Uganda is a rich country that does not need aid, because aid is in itself a problem.”

However, it is President Musevni’s mishandling — and at times flat-out denial — of foreign aid funds that has proven to be the more menacing problem. About three quarters of Uganda’s public health spending comes directly from foreign aid, but that money has largely been squandered.

A recent World Bank survey revealed that the majority of all Ugandan public sector health workers were not showing up for work, and life-saving drugs were frequently out of stock.

Currently, only two percent of the population has health insurance. As such, health care is a major expense to Ugandans, who spend an average of 22 percent of their incomes on health care. The situation is even more dire for the poorest members of the population who are often forced to sell their assets in order to pay their medical bills.

While public health care must certainly play a central role in the future of Uganda’s health system, the private sector represents a promising alternative. Given the misuse of USAID’s previous investment in the public sector, the organization is now looking for a better way to improve the quality of health care in Uganda.

With an investment of only $315,000 from USAID, the organization has worked with local banks to open $10 million in private lending earmarked for the Ugandan health sector. Through a process of risk-mitigation and direct loans to local medical centers, USAID has managed to significantly bolster the Ugandan private health sector over the course of a mere three years.

One of the loans — amounting to about $25,000 — was given to Rhona Medical Center. The Medical Center used the loan to purchase new, state-of-the-art equipment as well as to hire additional personnel. As a result, the revenue for the facility doubled and the amount of patients receiving higher quality service increased fourfold.

Success stories like that are cropping up all across Uganda. In time, greater competition and a renewed faith from local banks mean that private health care will become a more viable option to the lower class of Uganda.

USAID already has plans to use a similar private partnership to guarantee loans for young girls’ school fees, and future USAID projects in Uganda will likely take cues from the early successes investing in the private sector.

Given Uganda’s unwillingness to accept foreign aid, circumventing the Ugandan government entirely may prove to be the most effective method to support Ugandan development. It appears that the success of USAID’s investment in the private sector of Ugandan health care may signify a paradigm shift in the international community’s approach towards aid in Uganda.

— Sam Hillestad

Sources: USAID Blog, Health Market Innovations
Photo: Hydro World