Over the last two decades, Uganda has balanced strong demographic expansion with economic dynamism and significant social progress. Less than one fifth of the population live in poverty (down from more than half in the early 1990s), mortality rates for under-5s have been cut, the incidence of malaria has dropped and access to HIV treatment has increased. Even so, Uganda remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranked a modest 163rd out of 188 in the 2015 Human Development Report.
Agriculture employs 80 percent of the workforce; nine out of 10 women are thought to depend on it. Smallholders account for 96 percent of farmers and 75 percent of agricultural produce. But they underperform significantly as a result of poorly integrated markets, limited access to credit, uncertain land tenure and low levels of technology. Limited market information and the inability to meet regional and international standards limit exports. Post-harvest losses caused by inadequate handling techniques and storage facilities have been estimated to reach 40 percent in some sectors.
While food is generally available, access to it is inadequate in some places. The north-eastern region of Karamoja suffers from chronic food insecurity and vulnerability to hunger, as well as poor access to services. A combination of chronic underdevelopment and recurrent drought means that the majority of families there cannot meet basic nutritional requirements and undernutrition rates are higher than the national average. More than 100,000 people in Karamoja will require treatment for moderate acute malnutrition annually over the next few years.
7.3 percent of Uganda’s population is living with HIV. Between 2005 and 2013, strong HIV prevention and treatment initiatives saw a decrease of 19 percent in the number of AIDS-related deaths. However, in 2013 the number of new infections rose to 140,000 – globally, the third largest rise that year and the fourth highest rise among children. Access to treatment for adults living with HIV remains low at around 40 percent.
Regional instability and conflicts in neighbouring countries, including South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), mean that the number of refugees hosted by Uganda is rising, reaching 620,000 as of 30 August 2016. The Government gives refugees plots of land to cultivate, to encourage their self-sufficiency. However, as the number of refugees grows, these plots become gradually smaller. Moreover, refugees lack farming skills, handling techniques and proper storage facilities preserve their crops.
WFP is working with the Government, UN partners and NGOs, moving from emergency responses to longer-term investments that address the root causes of food insecurity.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Uganda
Support to refugees
Over 70 percent of refugees in Uganda are supported by WFP with high-energy biscuits upon arrival, cooked meals at transit centres, and dry food rations or monthly cash once they are in settlements. WFP also provides nutrition support to pregnant and nursing women and children aged between six months and five years.
As refugees start farming the land allocated to them by the Government, WFP support shifts to enhancing their self-reliance.
Food and cash assistance
In Karamoja WFP provides moderately food-insecure families with conditional food assistance during the lean season, linked to the creation of assets for land reclamation, soil and water conservation, and water for agricultural production.
WFP provides technical assistance, and policy and planning advice to support the Office of the Prime Minister’s efforts to decentralize disaster risk preparedness and response. In Karamoja, WFP supports local governments in updating and implementing their emergency response plans.
Agriculture and market support
WFP supports small-scale farmers in all regions of Uganda in their transition from subsistence to commercial production. Activities include: building the capacity of farmers, farmers’ organizations and traders; enabling access to productive assets and infrastructure; supporting markets development; and enhancing public-private partnerships. To reduce post-harvest loss, farmers are trained in handling and storage techniques.
WFP provides nutritional assistance in Karamoja and the Katakwi and Amuria districts. This includes nutritional support to pregnant and nursing women, and children under two; community-based supplementary feeding to treat malnourished children using WFP’s specialized nutritious food Super Cereal Plus; and the distribution of sachets of micronutrient powders (containing 15 vitamins and minerals) to be sprinkled over the food of children under two.
WFP provides midday meals at 284 schools in Karamoja. With WFP’s support, in 2015 the Government launched a programme called Karamoja Feeds Karamoja. Under this scheme, the Government contributes locally-grown cereals to WFP’s school meals basket, with WFP supporting the handling, storage, warehousing and delivery.