Some facts about Uganda
The discovery of oil and gas reserves in western Uganda has attracted foreign investors and boosted confidence in the country's economy. However, international organisations are calling upon Uganda to distribute national wealth more equally. At present, the income share held by the richest 10 per cent in Uganda is 35 per cent.
|At school - photo: B. Neeleman|
Over recent years, a number of democratic and economic reforms were introduced and inflation has fallen noticeably.
The terror spread by one of Africa's most cruel guerrilla groups, the "Lord's Resistance Army", has proliferated and is now affecting neighbouring countries as well.
In 2011, a controversial bill was proposed which included the death penalty for anyone violating the country's anti-homosexuality laws. According to the proposed bill, anyone who witnessed "homosexual activities" and failed to report them would have faced a prison sentence. As a result of international outrage and protest, the bill finally failed to pass through government in Uganda.
Despite natural wealth, socioeconomic problems and widespread poverty persist
Although Uganda has made noticeable progress in reducing high poverty figures, life in rural areas remains extremely challenging. Uganda is a drought-stricken country: thousands of subsistence farmers and their families face precarious living conditions during certain times of the year. Whether or not they have enough to eat will often depend on the climate situation.
Natural disasters affect Uganda on a regular basis: in 2010, devastating landslides took the lives of many and displaced thousands. Particularly in the country's north and north-east, people have not been able to benefit from Uganda's economic upswing. In these regions, severe food shortages and devastating hunger mark the lives of many.
Only 38 per cent of Uganda's population have access to clean water. Millions live in shacks without proper sanitation, access to medical services or basic education. More than half the country's population lives on less than 1.25 US dollars per day.
Although the situation has noticeably improved since the 1990s, Uganda remains marked by an extremely high HIV prevalence rate of 16 per cent, one of the highest in the entire world. The mother-to-child-transmission of HIV remains a particularly worrying problem in Uganda. Despite a variety of programmes aiming to reduce the number of children contracting the virus during pregnancy, 150,000 Ugandan children live with HIV. However, more and more women receive anti-retroviral drugs and the number of infected babies is expected to further decrease in the future.
Situation of the children in Uganda
Demographically speaking, Uganda is an extremely young nation: nearly half of the country's population is younger than 14 years of age. In Uganda, 2,700,000 children have lost either one or both their parents - half of them as a result of the on-going AIDS epidemic that continues to be a heavy burden to Ugandan society.
|SOS Medical Centre - photo: B. Neeleman|
Despite recent progress, thousands of Ugandan children grow up without adult guidance and care because of AIDS. Many of these children never get to experience true childhood. At an early age, they head households and are in charge of looking after an entire family. They are frequently forced to drop out of school in an effort to help their family survive.
Because of HIV/AIDS, war, natural disasters and civil strife, the number of child-headed households in Uganda has been on the rise: today, around 42,000 children between the ages of 10 and 17 are heading households. Their economic situation is often precarious.
Although the public health situation has generally improved, many indicators in Uganda show a rather different picture: The under-five-mortality rate in Uganda remains high at 128 per 1,000 live births and in thousands of cases births are not attended by skilled medical staff. Infectious viral diseases that are easily curable in industrialised nations still cost the lives of many children.
Children who lose their parents and end up living in the streets, scavenging and begging in order to survive are omnipresent in Uganda's larger cities. The country is home to an estimated 10,000 street children who are exposed to a harsh and often hostile environment on a daily basis. They find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of drugs, poverty and, quite frequently, criminal activities.
SOS Children's Villages in Uganda
Our organisation started its activities in Uganda in the year 1988. We first started working in a region that had been heavily affected by the war. Our cooperation with the Ugandan government intensified in 2002 when a new agreement was signed, increasing governmental support and recognition for the work of our organisation.
At present, we are supporting Ugandan children and young people by providing day care, education, medical assistance and vocational training in four different locations. Additionally, SOS Family Strengthening Programmes have been launched in order to support children who are at risk of losing parental care. When children can no longer stay with their families, they can be cared for in family-like settings by SOS mothers.