Home to 45 million people, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 78% under the age of 30. This represents significant development potential which, if left untapped, could become a major development challenge. Today, unemployment stands at 9.2%. Agriculture is the backbone of the Ugandan economy; however, the sector is characterised by low productivity, which contributes to income volatility and stagnation. Extreme weather events leading to disasters such as floods, droughts, and landslides have increased over the last 30 years and affect the livelihoods of people.
Uganda's refugee policy is one of the most progressive in the world with refugees having access to social services, land, and jobs. However, the continued influx coupled with limited resources is also placing tremendous pressure on existing amenities and straining the delivery of services in host communities. The country hosts one of the largest number of refugees and asylum seekers in the world, standing at 1,437,000 as of February 2020. The majority comes from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi, with others coming from Somalia, Rwanda, Eritrea, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Refugees face challenges related to food insecurity, malnutrition, limited access to water, sanitation, livelihood opportunities, and health care including sexual reproductive health and rights. Young women and girls are left to resort to negative coping mechanisms and their rights are suppressed by negative cultural norms such as traditional gender roles and early marriage exposing them to high risk of HIV.
According to WHO, Uganda’s burden of disease is dominated by communicable diseases, accounting for over 50% of the annual deaths, and a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, including mental health disorders. However, the health system remains challenged due to insufficient resources to recruit, deploy, and retain quality health care service providers, especially in remote areas. In addition, mechanisms to ensure quality health care service delivery, timely and holistic health data collection and sufficient stock of essential medical supplies are not fully efficient.
The government of Uganda is implementing a policy of universal access to free primary education. Although this is a promising effort, the quality of the education and graduation rate are low. According to the World Bank, Uganda’s human capital index is low; children born in Uganda today are likely to be 38% as productive when they grow up, as they could be when enjoying high-quality education and health care.