Life In Uganda
Life in Uganda
Uganda is a country of 25 million people, with over half (13 million) under the age of 18. Over the next 20 years, it is likely to double in size. About 2.3 million (9%) of these youngsters are orphans, having lost one or both parents. In the north, the number is significantly higher with households that support four or more orphans.
Uganda’s rural areas account for 85% of the population. Poverty hovers around 46% in the north of the country. Northern Uganda has the largest population of children classified as income poor and the highest proportion of vulnerable children aged 0-17 (43%). These numbers represent orphans, children not attending school, child laborers, children living in child-headed households (often with children of their own), and children with disabilities.
Poverty, Health, and Food Security
Most people live simple, rural lives, feeding themselves through subsistence farming. There are few opportunities to earn money. Ten million people are living in poverty, with 2/3 of them being below the age of 18. These impoverished people have limited access to adequate food, health services, education, or clean water. Those in poverty often die from preventable diseases such as malaria. There is relatively little access to doctors or midwives; the health situation is compounded when people are unable to adequately feed themselves. Thirty-eight percent of Ugandan children (9.5 million) have developmental disabilities because of inadequate and safe food sources. Poverty affects children’s access to education and results in early entry into work, which exposes children to exploitation, early pregnancy, and motherhood.
Water and Sanitation
Safe water and the proper disposal of waste are essential for the prevention of many diseases. In rural areas, people often must fetch water over long distances and carry them back in plastic jugs. This work takes up time which might otherwise be spent getting an education. As such, inadequate water supply can have a direct impact on a child’s development.
It is not illegal for guardians to keep children out of school. This is usually done because of a lack of money to pay school fees, the need for the child to work, or to care for family members. Their inability to get a basic education often leads to inequalities, especially where girls are concerned. Girls are more likely than boys to be denied an education, and if orphaned and living with extended family, they may only get a second chance at an education after their cousins have completed school. Today, only 14% of all children completing primary education go on to attend secondary school, and most of these are boys.
In rural areas, it is quite common for families to live in a mud hut with a thatched roof, sleeping on dirt floors. Households often consist of only children with the older ones looking after their siblings.