Western Uganda

Uganda Profile

Uganda, a landlocked country in central east Africa with a population of some 35 million, is a land of many contrasts. It is today seen as one of the top travel destinations in the world by such authoritative bodies as National Geographic and Lonely Planet making tourism growth in Uganda the fastest in Africa, yet it is one of just a few countries in the world that has slipped down the Human Development Index since 2012 now languishing in position 164 out of 184 when ranked in terms of life expectancy (54 yrs), literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country. Born as a nation state on 9 October 1962, the former British protectorate was, up until then, defined less as an existing country rather than by not being Kenya to its east, by the then unified Sudan to its north, to its west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to its south-west by Rwanda and by its south by Tanzania.

It was an amalgamation of a number of different kingdoms, the largest being Buganda from which the newly emerged nation took its name however, as with so many countries in the post-independence period, the agreed constitution lasted barely five years before the executive Prime Minister, Milton Obote changed it unilaterally removing the ceremonial president and vice-president and proclaiming Uganda a republic with himself as executive President.

Obote himself was overthrown in 1971 and replaced by Idi Amin, who not only murdered hundreds of thousands of Ugandans to secure his dictatorship but forcibly removed all Indians who were the backbone of the Ugandan economy leaving the country's finances in ruins. When Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles finally invaded Uganda in 1979 to attempt his overthrow, Amin was forced into exile to be replaced yet again by Obote whose second "reign" lasted six years before he was again ousted in 1985 by General Tito Okello who himself only lasted six months before being deposed with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the current president who took up office on 29th January 1986 and has remained in power since that time winning all subsequent elections.

Whilst Museveni has been widely credited both inside and outside of Uganda with bringing peace and stability to the country albeit patchily particularly in the north and to a lesser degree the east of Uganda, many now see social and economic progress stalled and consider that as an older statesman it is now time for Museveni to move on and make way for a younger generation more in tune with the aspirations, requirements and understanding of the 21st Century.

As noted above there is widespread poverty in the country and, as you travel further from urban areas such as Kampala the country's infrastructure effectively peters out to reflect living conditions some 50-100years ago. A deeply conservative and religious society, those who question the poor standards in Uganda are simply by the powers that be told it is God's will. However many young people, in particular, are beginning to question whether it is actually a God's will or rather down to poor governance and widespread corruption (indeed if you were to seek formal figures on corruption from official sources, in all likelihood you would have to "facilitate" the request to get them.)

There are fresh elections in 2016 and perhaps they will determine whether Uganda joins the ride on the back of Africa being the world's fastest growing economy or whether it remains simply a bystander as others around them prosper.


Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that has slipped down the Human Development Index in the last two years with human development both below sub-Saharan African and low human development worldwide.

Your volunteer work will not change Uganda, but it may pave the way for a brighter future for individuals within the community by promoting their educational attainment and sharing ideas and aspirations.

Human Development Index Graph for Uganda

Uganda Profile

Uganda Profile

Uganda Profile

Uganda Profile


Local Culture

Ugandan Culture

Find out about local culture and issues to be aware of before you visit the village in Uganda.
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Uganda Profile

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Many 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.

Uganda Profile

Vulnerable Children in Uganda

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.

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 (images and text opposite) 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.