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Sida's work in Uganda

Uganda's long-standing positive economic performance stalled during the pandemic and unemployment rose sharply. Sida works to ensure that human rights are respected, that more people have access to good health care and that society and people are better able to withstand the effects of climate change.

Progress has been made

Civil society remains strong

Civil society in Uganda is vibrant and many civil society organisations continue to make their voices heard.

All women have the right to health care

In an important ruling, Uganda’s Constitutional Court recently established that access to maternal health care is a universal right and must be respected by the government.

The health system is developing

The number of health facilities with functioning water and sanitation and improved infection control has increased. Intensive care for premature babies has also been expanded in district hospitals.

Challenges remain

Poverty on the rise

After decades of economic development, both poverty and unemployment are on the rise.1

Democracy under pressure

Democratic development is slowing down. Human rights defenders and the media are often subjected to threats and harassment. During the pandemic, the government was accused of using restrictions to limit freedom of expression and movement, in order to strengthen its own control and power.

Gender violence is up

The proportion of women and girls in Uganda who are victims of rape and sexual violence is high and is estimated to have increased by 24 percent during the pandemic. 2

Development cooperation in Uganda

Poverty in Uganda is widespread and the pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. The already high unemployment rate has increased further.

Uganda is the largest recipient of refugees in Africa. Its policy gives refugees the right to land, the right to work and access to schooling and health care. At the same time, the open refugee policy puts pressure on natural resources and public services.

Human rights, gender equality, democracy and the rule of law

Like many other African countries, Uganda struggles with weak democracy, lack of access to public sector services and human rights abuses. Society is permeated by a patriarchal structure that limits women’s ability to determine their own lives, and which also manifests itself in gender-based violence.

Supporting organisations fighting for human rights

According to the civil society organisation Freedom House’s Democratic and Human Rights Survey,3 Uganda is rated “unfree” in terms of citizens’ civil and political rights. Sida supports the the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights, OHCHR), which monitors and supports human rights organisations in the country.

About the work in Uganda at the OHCHR website

Preventing violence against women

More than one in five girls and women aged 15-29 have experienced sexual violence, and one in two married women often or always fear their husbands.4 Sida supports a programme implemented by the UN Population Fund, UNFPA and UN Women which helps prevent gender-based violence, focusing on particularly vulnerable groups and areas.

Environment, climate and sustainable economic development

The number of Ugandans who are unemployed or underemployed is very high and the economy is unable to employ the nearly one million young people who enter the labour market each year. During the pandemic, this situation worsened further.

Many people living in poverty depend on forests, fisheries and, above all, agriculture for their livelihoods. However, the country’s natural resources and biodiversity are under severe pressure from the rapidly growing population and the effects of climate change. Initiatives have been taken to slow and halt the rapid deforestation in the country, which has resulted in some recovery.

Women obtain more influence in the agricultural sector

Women do much of the agricultural work but have less access to land and power over their money. Through the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, Sida supports women’s ownership and strengthens their ability to participate in decision-making. Making agriculture more resilient to climate change is also included.

About the work in Uganda at the FAO website

Increasing access to sustainable electricity

Access to electricity is a major problem, with just over ten percent of the rural population estimated to have access to electricity.5 Sida supports Through the Renewable Energy Challenge Fund, and small and medium-sized enterprises are empowered to reach more people with renewable electricity – especially those living in rural poverty.

About Renewable Energy Challenge Fund on UNCDF’s website

Clean and affordable energy for all

Uganda is one of the countries involved in the Beyond the Grid for Africa (BGFA) programme, which works to increase access to renewable electricity for people off the grid. BGFA delivers cheap and reliable renewable energy services to people living in poverty.

Their work is accelerating market access and development in this area. By mobilising private investment, poor consumers – who currently spend a very large proportion of their income on substandard forms of energy – gain access to affordable and reliable renewable energy services.

Beyond the Grid for Africa’s website

Basic health and sexual and reproductive rights

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues are controversial in Uganda. Teenage pregnancies, already among the highest in the world, increased sharply as a direct result of school closures during the pandemic.7 Stereotypical gender norms and a lack of knowledge and access to care threaten people’s health and right to control their own lives.

Better care to reduce maternal and child mortality

The West Nile district in north-western Uganda is home to a large proportion of the country’s refugees. Child mortality rates are particularly high.7 In its work on child and maternal health, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is strengthening the district’s health sector and helping to meet the increased need for health and care services in areas hosting large numbers of refugees.

Sida also supports UNICEF’s country programme in Uganda, which provides support to social protection systems and where support to child and maternal health is particularly important. UNICEF implements the work together with the World Food Programme (WFP).

About the child and maternal health programme on UNICEF Uganda’s website

Defending women's rights

Restrictions during the pandemic led to an increase in gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and child marriage.8 Access to SRHR services has deteriorated, particularly for young people and LGBTI people, and increasingly vocal opinion opposes sex education in schools and wants to ban abortion.

To help counter these developments, Sida supports long-term advocacy work through the organisation CEHURD, which works to improve coordination between different regional organisations working on these issues

CEHURD’s website

Research collaborations

Sida’s research cooperation with Uganda consists of 17 research projects, the majority of which are collaborations between Swedish universities and other institutions of higher education and Ugandan universities. The support goes i.a. to doctoral education, both locally and projects where parts of the education is given in Sweden.

Updated: September 30, 2022