Colonial rule ended in Uganda in 1962. Following this, gross abuses of human rights, with a considerable ethnic dimension, took place under the Amin, Obote and Okello regimes of the 1970s and 1980s. During the reign of Idi Amin, between 100,000 and 500,000 people were killed in conflict. Although more recent years have seen a degree of comparative stability, the legacy of these conflicts remains a powerful mobilizing factor in Ugandan politics.
Most of Uganda consists of fertile, wooded highland plateau, and has a tropical climate, but there are also swampy lowlands and a desert region. Uganda is among the leading producers of coffee and bananas. They also produce tea, cotton, tobacco, fruit and flowers. But with agriculture employing over 80 per cent of the work force and many rural families having no access to safe water or adequate food supplies, life remains challenging for many. The country also remains vulnerable to natural disasters, as seen in the 2007 floods which left 400,000 people displaced.
There are more Ugandans under the age of 18 than there are adults. The country has been successful in enrolling more than 90% of children in primary schools, however only a quarter of Uganda’s young population have secondary school places. An issue schools face is late payments made to teachers, leading to teachers taking on 2nd or even 3rd jobs. This results in teacher absenteeism which has led to 40% of public school classrooms having no teacher in them. Other factors which hinder improvements are the lack of text books, desks, and electricity in most schools.
The role of women
While there have been some positive recent steps to fight violence against women in Uganda, in particular the adoption of laws criminalising female genital mutilation and sanctioning domestic violence, measures necessary to ensure the implementation of these policies are lacking. Women of Uganda face a wide range of challenges including discrimination, low social status, lack of economic self-sufficiency, and greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection.
ActionAid has been operating in Uganda since 1982 and now works with over 200 partners on the ground, currently supporting over 260,000 families. Our programme work focuses on poverty reduction: education, HIV&AIDS, peace building, farming and foods and women’s rights
ActionAid Ireland supports and helps to fund 4 key projects in Uganda in the areas of education, women’s rights, school feeding programmes and safe drinking water in schools and communities.
Creating Employment Opportunities
“Joining ActionAid in 2010 is the best thing that ever happened in my life. Living as a deaf woman in Uganda, my options for employment are few and far between so when I was employed as a teacher for the deaf in Kinyinya Primary School I was overwhelmed.”
says Ursula Nakimera (30).
Ursula continues, “My father passed away when I was only 12 years old and my mother, Constance Nakibage who is now 59 years, was left with the massive responsibility of bringing up six children on her own as well educating us. My first job 5 years ago was at Emmanuel Church of the deaf in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, where I earned 70,000 Shillings or €20 per month.
"Being employed by ActionAid to teach in Kinyinya, I’m now earning 220,000 Shillings or €63 per month and I can now support my family with basic needs like food, clothing and medication while my mother concentrates on finding additional family income to pay for school fees.
"Teaching children how to read, write, sing and play in sign language is such a wonderful gift to pass on and I think I’m also an example for the children by showing them that there are employment opportunities for people living with hearing impairments and that with a little bit of support we can fulfill our dreams.”