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In 2015, an estimated 1.5 million people were living with HIV, and an estimated 28,000 Ugandans died of AIDS-related illnesses. As of 2015, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15 to 49) stood at 7.1%.
The number of new HIV infections in Uganda increased by 21% between 2005 and 2013. However, infections are now reducing and fell from 140,000 in 2013 to 83,000 in 2015. The number of AIDS-related deaths decreased by an estimated 19% over the same period.
Robust treatment and prevention initiatives have been implemented in recent years, leading to improved conditions for people living with HIV. Due to the implementation of antiretroviral treatment throughout the country there has been a gradual increase in the number of people living with HIV receiving treatment. In 2013, Uganda reached a tipping point whereby the number of new infections per year was less than the number of people beginning to receive antiretroviral treatment.
However, as of 2015 around 40% of adults living with HIV were still not on treatment. Persistent disparities remain around who is accessing treatment and many people living with HIV experience stigma and discrimination.
The HIV epidemic in Uganda continues to disproportionately affect young women. In 2014, HIV prevalence among young people aged 15-24 in Uganda was estimated at 3.72% for women and 2.32% for men.
In Uganda, 570 young women aged 15-24 acquire HIV every week, according to 2014 data from UNAIDS. UNAIDS further reports that one in every four new infections among women aged between 15 and 49 years in Uganda occurs in women aged between 15 and 24 years old.
The issues faced by this demographic include gender-based violence (including sexual abuse) and a lack of access to education, health services, social protection and information about how they cope with these inequities and injustices. Indeed, young Ugandan women who have experienced intimate partner violence are 50% more likely to have acquired HIV than women who had not experienced violence.
The lack of sexual education is telling. In 2014, only 38.5% of young women and men aged 15-24 could correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and rejected major misconceptions about HIV transmission. Although the percentage of young men with this knowledge rose from 39.3% in 2011 to 42.3% in 2104, it fell among young women during this time, from 38.6% to 35.7%.
The Lord’s Resistance Army has conducted one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest rebellions.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord’s Resistance Movement, is a rebel group and heterodox Christian cult which operates in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Originally known as the United Holy Salvation Army and Uganda Christian Army/Movement, its stated goals include establishment of multi-party democracy, ruling Uganda according to the Ten Commandments, and Acholi nationalism, though in practice “the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this “. It appears to largely function as a personality cult of its leader Joseph Kony, a self-declared prophet whose leadership has earned him the nickname “Africa’s David Koresh.“
On 05 March 2012, the non-profit organization Invisible Children, released a video on the internet to kick off an awareness campaign entitled “Kony 2012, “ to highlight the actions of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The goal of the campaign was to promote efforts to capture and bring Kony to justice by the end of 2012. Criticism was leveled at the campaign and at Invisible Children over how information was presented in the video and their overall activities. Criticism included: implying that Joseph Kony and the LRA were still operating in Uganda (which they are not), implying that the LRA is still a large organization (which it is not), stating that Kony and the LRA were objectively worse than other similar actors in the region (such as recently convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga) or governments accused of human rights violations (like that of Uganda), and suggesting that Operation Observant Compass was the first attempt by the United States to provide support for regional forces to capture or otherwise neutralize Kony and the LRA (which is incorrect).
The LRA was listed as a terrorist group by the United States, though it has since been removed from the list of designated active terrorist groups. It has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, child-sex slavery, and forcing children to participate in hostilities.
Uganda is religiously diverse nation with Christianity and Islam being the most widely professed religions. According to the 2014 census, over 84 percent of the population was Christian while about 14 percent of the population adhered to Islam. In 2009, the northern and west Nile regions were dominated by Roman Catholics, and Iganga District in the east of Uganda had the highest percentage of Muslims.
Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and Christmas are recognized national holidays.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Uganda Constitution, but religions are expected to be registered with the government. Some religions considered to be cults are restricted. The Catholic Church, the Church of Uganda, the Orthodox Church, and the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council are registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act. Most other religious groups are registered yearly as non-governmental organizations.
According to the national census of October 2002, Christians of all denominations comprised 85.1 percent of Uganda’s population. The Roman Catholic Church had the largest number of adherents (41.9 percent of the total population). The largest Protestant church was the Anglican Church of Uganda, a part of the worldwide Anglican communion, at 35.9 percent. There were numerous Pentecostal churches (4.6 percent), while 1.0 percent were grouped under the category “Other Christians”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses operate in Uganda under the International Bible Students Association name and are working in a total of ten languages, including Swahili and Luganda. Followers of William M. Branham and Branhamism claim numbers in the tens of thousands, thanks in large part to translation and distribution efforts by Voice of God Recordings.
The Presbyterian Church in Uganda has 100-200 congregations. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Uganda was a result in a split in the Presbyterian church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims more than 14,000 members in 27 congregations in Uganda. They also have two family history centers.
The Society of Friends has two yearly meetings, Uganda Yearly Meeting, part of Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church. There were about 3,000 members between the two in 2001.
A 2015 study estimated some 35,000 believers in Christ from a Muslim background residing in the country at the time.
Islam – According to the National Census 2002, 12.1 percent of Ugandans adhered to Islam. Most Muslims are Sunni, with a large minority of Ahmadis. The Iganga District in the east of Uganda has the highest percentage of Muslims.
Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing one third of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Uganda’s economy remains predominantly agricultural with a small industrial sector that is dependent on imported inputs like oil and equipment. Overall productivity is hampered by a number of supply-side constraints, including underinvestment in an agricultural sector that continues to rely on rudimentary technology. Industrial growth is impeded by high-costs due to poor infrastructure, low levels of private investment, and the depreciation of the Ugandan shilling.
Since 1986, the government – with the support of foreign countries and international agencies – has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes are especially aimed at dampening inflation while encouraging foreign investment to boost production and export earnings. Since 1990 economic reforms ushered in an era of solid economic growth based on continued investment in infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, lower inflation, better domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs.
The global economic downturn in 2008 hurt Uganda’s exports; however, Uganda’s GDP growth has largely recovered due to past reforms and a rapidly growing urban consumer population. Oil revenues and taxes are expected to become a larger source of government funding as production starts in the next five to 10 years. However, lower oil prices since 2014 and protracted negotiations and legal disputes between the Ugandan government and oil companies may prove a stumbling block to further exploration and development.
Uganda faces many challenges. Instability in South Sudan has led to a sharp increase in Sudanese refugees and is disrupting Uganda’s main export market. High energy costs, inadequate transportation and energy infrastructure, insufficient budgetary discipline, and corruption inhibit economic development and investor confidence. During 2015 the Uganda shilling depreciated 22% against the dollar, and inflation rose from 3% to 9%, which led to the Bank of Uganda hiking interest rates from 11% to 17%. As a result, inflation remained below double digits; however, trade and capital-intensive industries were negatively impacted.
The budget for FY 2015/16 is dominated by energy and road infrastructure spending, while relying on donor support for long-term economic drivers of growth, including agriculture, health, and education. The largest infrastructure projects are externally financed through low-interest concessional loans. As a result, debt servicing for these loans is expected to rise in 2016/2017 by 22% and consume 15% the domestic budget.
Uganda has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world; its total fertility rate is among the world’s highest at 5.8 children per woman. Except in urban areas, actual fertility exceeds women’s desired fertility by one or two children, which is indicative of the widespread unmet need for contraception, lack of government support for family planning, and a cultural preference for large families. High numbers of births, short birth intervals, and the early age of childbearing contribute to Uganda’s high maternal mortality rate. Gender inequities also make fertility reduction difficult; women on average are less-educated, participate less in paid employment, and often have little say in decisions over childbearing and their own reproductive health. However, even if the birth rate were significantly reduced, Uganda’s large pool of women entering reproductive age ensures rapid population growth for decades to come.
Unchecked, population increase will further strain the availability of arable land and natural resources and overwhelm the country’s limited means for providing food, employment, education, health care, housing, and basic services. The country’s north and northeast lag even further behind developmentally than the rest of the country as a result of long-term conflict (the Ugandan Bush War 1981-1986 and more than 20 years of fighting between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Ugandan Government forces), ongoing inter-communal violence, and periodic natural disasters.
Uganda has been both a source of refugees and migrants and a host country for refugees. In 1972, then President Idi AMIN, in his drive to return Uganda to Ugandans, expelled the South Asian population that composed a large share of the country’s businesspeople and bankers. Since the 1970s, thousands of Ugandans have emigrated, mainly to southern Africa or the West, for security reasons, to escape poverty, to search for jobs, and for access to natural resources. The emigration of Ugandan doctors and nurses due to low wages is a particular concern given the country’s shortage of skilled health care workers. Africans escaping conflicts in neighboring states have found refuge in Uganda since the 1950s; the country currently struggles to host tens of thousands from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and other nearby countries.
Ugandans are known for their hospitality and style of welcoming guests. You should go to the village area of Uganda to see how warmly they welcome you. The people and especially the children will start screaming with joy when they see the guests, they will hug you and give you a handshake.
Uganda has been ranked as one of the biggest alcohol consuming nations in the world. Despite poverty, people consume alcohol a lot!
About 10 million people in Uganda have mobile phones (approximately one-third of the population).
Matooke is a very popular food in Uganda and a favorite food for most people in the country. It is a plantain type of banana that is prepared by cooking in banana leaves.
Boda-bodas is the name given to Ugandan motorcycle transport because they were formerly used to transport people across the “no-mans-land” (a patch of land between the Kenya/Ugandan border posters).
The favorite sport in Uganda is Soccer in which the country ranks number 24 in Africa and 93 in the world.