Uganda: Overview

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Photo credit: ©FAO/Matthias Mugisha


In North America, we often don’t hear any details about African countries.  Shamefully, either on the news or by word-of-mouth, news about goings-on in most countries in Africa are waved away as being distant, or irrelevant.  I would love to be able to bring a little more focus, and context, to countries I am exposed to through their citizens.

Uganda is a land-locked country, situated between South Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Lake Victoria.  Its climate is tropical and wet, and its land fertile.

The population of Uganda is approximately 38 million, with 2 million people living in the capital, Kampala.  Ugandan families are large, with the fertility rate sitting at 5.8 children per woman.  This is in contrast to the reported desired number of children for Ugandan women (1-2).  An explanation for this is the contraception prevalence rate for the country: 30%.  The population is very young, with a median age of 15.7 years.

For health and healthcare, Uganda performs poorly.  28,200 people died from complications of HIV/AIDS in 2015, and 7% of the population is living with it currently.  At birth, the life expectancy for the entire population (male and female) is 55.4 years.  For the population, the density of physicians is very, very low, at 0.15 physicians per 1000 people in 2005.  Infectious disease rate is very high, with bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis and typhoid fever being very prevalent.  On the upside, the adult obesity rate in Uganda is sitting at 3.9% – much improved over Canada’s 30.1%!

Uganda is gifted with fertile land.  Along with mineral deposits, Ugandan soil has excellent quality for crops.  40% of the population works in agriculture.  Coffee is a main export (side note: Starbucks has recently caught onto this, with a release of a small-lot coffee blend, “Sipi Falls” from the slopes of Mount Elgon).  50% of the population works in the service industry.  10% of exports go to Rwanda.

The country is currently attempting to handle a large influx of refugees from South Sudan, the Congo, Burundi, Somalia, and Rwanda.  These refugees fled their homelands due to fighting between government and rebel forces (Lord’s Resistance Army).  More on this to come.

Despite Uganda’s troubles, there are many beacons of hope in the country, and many bright minds working to improve things for all.  Stay tuned for another post on some of these.


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