People Helped in 2018: 474,505
Uganda has continued to struggle with slow economic growth, a constant stream of refugees from conflicts in neighboring South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the lingering instability of a two-decade-old struggle against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a violent opposition group that has terrorized the north. Hunger is one of the major issues in northern Uganda, and the prevalence of undernutrition among children routinely surpasses emergency thresholds, especially among refugee populations.
Currently, Uganda hosts more than 1.2 million refugees, primarily from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ugandan government has maintained its commitment to supporting refugees, allowing them to settle and live outside a camp structure, allocating them land, and allowing for their freedom of movement. Uganda’s refugee policy gives Action Against Hunger and others a distinct opportunity to implement sustainable interventions for populations affected by a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Our integrated and innovative programmes address the causes and effects of malnutrition in the long term.
Nevertheless, the sheer number of refugees who have fled into Uganda has strained the country’s services and resources. Due to a lack of food diversity, poor hygiene and sanitation, and a lack of awareness on proper infant care and feeding practices, Uganda suffers from high rates of malnutrition. On average, anaemia affects half the population, and in some areas stunting rates are approaching 30%.
Action Against Hunger works in refugee settlements and among host populations to address direct and underlying causes of malnutrition, improved access to safe water and improve food security and livelihoods. In partnership with UNHCR and the government of Uganda, we support health centers in host communities and in refugee settlements to provide lifesaving screening and treatment for severely malnourished children, as well as educating and empowering mothers and caregivers about proper child care and feeding practices to prevent malnutrition and improve child health.
In some areas where we work, the population size has doubled due to the influx of refugees, straining infrastructure. To support overwhelmed schools and health centers, we build additional latrines and hand washing facilities and promote healthy hygiene practices. In the areas where we work, household food production has increased, diets are more diverse, and people consume more fruits and vegetables compared to refugee and host communities in other districts, according to quantitative and qualitative data.
"This was a turning point in my life. I can manage my basic needs now. I have enough food to stock my house, I've sent my youngest child back to school, and I'm able to manage the hospital bills for my son. Now I have the courage to work even harder."—Margaret Akello, farmer, mother, and participant in Action Against Hunger livelihoods program, Uganda