The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, bordered by the countries of Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The southern part of the country also includes a portion of Lake Victoria – the largest lake in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.
The name Uganda comes from the Buganda Kingdom. The Buganda tribe has been in the area for several centuries and their current king (the Kabaka) owns a significant portion of land in the southern disctrict and in the capital city of Kampala. The country is composed of 4 administrative regions that are split into 80 districts, which are split into numerous counties.
History and Demographics
From 1894, Uganda was under British colonial administration until its independence in 1962. Today, Uganda is home to approximately 31 million people. With a median age of 15 years, its population is considered to be very young. Uganda is composed of a number of ethnic groups, with no apparent majority. Although English is the official language in Uganda, some 40 other dialects are spoken throughout the country; Luganda, Runyankore and Swahili are the most common. Religion is a very important factor in most Ugandan families as 84% of the population is Christian, 12% Muslim and the remaining 4% are various local religions.
Since Uganda’s resources are limited to fertile soils and regular rainfall, agriculture is an important sector that employs about 80% of the work force. The major exports include coffee, and minerals such as copper and cobalt. Uganda’s current GDP per capita is about $300, which places the country in the 160th position worldwide (out of 170). With 35% of the population living under the poverty line, almost 11 million people live on less than $1 a day.
Although many families make it a priority to send their children to school, many cannot afford it. As in other underdeveloped countries, poor families seek to have larger households. In fact, on average, a Ugandan woman gives birth to 6.4 children. This makes it difficult for a family to pay for all the children to attend school. As a result, the literacy level – the ability to read for the population of 15 years old and above – comes to an average of 70%. This figure can be broken down to 77% male and 63% female.
Uganda’s national response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic was considered to be one of the most effective on the continent, dropping from 18.5% of the population infected in 1990 to 5.4% in 2002. This means that 1.6 million people are still affected by the disease, 94,000 people are living with it, and 78,000 individuals die from HIV/AIDs or related illnesses. This pandemic has generated some 1.2 million orphans in Uganda. HIV/ AIDs awareness and sensitization continues to be taught in primary and secondary schools around the country.
It is important to note that HIV/AIDs statistics are estimates.
Reported human rights violations include the use of child soldiers, forced marriage and attacks on political freedom. Due to the ongoing tribal conflicts and atrocious attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the north, some 1.4 million people have been displaced. Furthermore, President Yoweri Museveni’s reign since 1986 has provoked international criticism.
St. Paul’s KAASO and Rakai
St. Paul’s KAASO, to which the Canadian International Learning Foundation provides financial and administrative support via the Uganda Literacy and Education Program, is located in Rakai, the south-central district of Uganda. Like other Ugandan districts, it is named after its ‘chief-town’ – the main commercial and administrative town. The district borders the north-western Tanzanian district. As a result it experiences much cross border commercial traffic to and from the town of Bukoba. The first recorded case of HIV in Uganda was in the Rakai district. The region has been particularly hit by the disease with the current infection rate at approximately 15%, significantly higher than the national 5% average. As a result, Rakai has been nicknamed “the Capital of the AIDS Highway”.