Uganda continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world with sub standard health care, high rates of malnutrition and diseases such
as malaria rampant, assisted by less than half of those living in Uganda having access to safe drinking water. Around a third of the population live in poverty.
Just under 50% of the population is aged 14yrs or younger and life expectancy is around 54 years.
There are an estimated 1.2 million children orphaned through AIDS/HIV, that's nearly one in fourteen of the country's child population.
Literacy rates are relatively high for males at 77% however this falls to just 57% for females. 18% of children never enrol at school and a further 66%,
who have enrolled, drop out during their primary and secondary school years. Attendance at school is also affected by the high rates of malaria with 40% of all students being affected at any given time.
These health issues are a major concern for children in Uganda; 26,000 children under the age of five die every year die from
diarrhoeal diseases and about a quarter of all children in Uganda do not have adequate food supplies for all or part of the year.
As with other countries across Africa, and indeed the world, Uganda has a rising number of street children and
its estimated that around 5000 children beg, scavenge, wash cars, steal or sell their bodies for daily survival.
Unlike their counterparts in neighbouring Kenya, these children do not tend to sniff glue, rather bhang which is brought in from Somalia, via Moroto.
It is this drug taking that the authorities account for the increase in violence in cities like Kampala.
Given the levels of poverty and lack of government investment, Uganda is fertile ground for social and infrastructure development,
however much of that development is unregulated especially when it comes to young people with a plethora of children's schools, orphanages and other projects springing up ostensibly
to meet the needs of children but often to meet the financial or emotional needs of adults whether they be well intentioned or to a
much lesser extent with malign intentions parading under a banner of good causes.
For example in parts of Uganda, notably the east of the country, apparently well meaning adults will visit
impoverished families promising that if their children attend their educational learning centres those children will receive a good education and a job in return.
Hard pressed families who can see little alternative and normally with the consent of a willing child send
their sons to attend these "boarding schools" only to find themselves trafficked. Once recent example of this was in late Autumn 2013
when forty children from the small rural village of Namatoke village in the Butaleja District of Eastern Uganda were lured to
such an 'educational learning centre' operating on the Buvuma Islands of Lake Victoria only to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo as ADF fighters.
children who escape from trafficking or who are abandoned by their families
(often when a new mother or father enters and existing family unit normally on
the exit of an existing parent) end up on the streets or are rounded up in
custody with the most common offence for a child to be charged with and detained
for is "defilement" with defilement in Uganda being an offence against morality
defined as sexual activity with a girl under the age of 18 with 18 being the age
for sexual consent.
AIDS is also a
major factor with Uganda having one of the highest prevalence rates in the world
leaving 2.3 million children orphaned through AIDS related deaths; the highest %
of AIDS orphans in the world. Many of these children also end up on the streets
when extended family can't provide care for them.
Of course this is atypical, but nevertheless in a country whose constitution prohibits child slavery, servitude and forced labour,
the latest available figures, albeit it from 2009, report that there are an estimated 2.7 million child labourers in Uganda,
12,000 trapped in commercial sex, 10,000 street children and 25-30,000 children abducted from the country to engage in
armed conflicts elsewhere. According to the U.S. Department of State "Trafficking in Persons Report 2012" children in Uganda are trafficked
both within the country and to other destinations for work in agriculture, cattle herding, mining, stone quarrying, brick making, car washing,
scrap metal collection, bars and restaurants, and the domestic service sector as well as exploitation in prostitution.
Human Development Index for
Uganda 1985 - Present
The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute
for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy,
literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country. Uganda is in 164th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 and
the chart above shows how levels of poverty and living standards in Uganda remain below other sub Saharan countries and also below low human development.