Life in Uganda

Life in Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa about the same size as the UK but with half the UK's population of some 44.27m (2019) people. Whilst Uganda was a relatively prosperous country on independence from the UK in 1962, decades of misrule until 1986, left hundreds of thousands of its people dead and its economy severely damaged. Today, life in Uganda is promoted as a mild society with an expanding tourist industry. Whilst to some extent this is true, it overlooks the ongoing strife in the north of the country where ethnic hostilities continue and various armed gangs make the territory largely out of governmental control.

Just under 50% of the population is aged 14yrs or younger and life expectancy is now 63 years having grown from just 45.9 in 1990. Uganda continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world (achieving position 159 on the Human Development Index) with sub standard health care, high rates of malnutrition and diseases such as malaria rampant, assisted by less than half of those living in Uganda having access to safe drinking water; 21.9 million people don't have clean water and 8 in every 10 people don't have a decent toilet. There are an estimated 1.2 million children orphaned through AIDS/HIV, that's nearly one in fourteen of the country's child population. Literacy rates are relatively high for males at 77% however this falls to just 63.9% for females although that rises significantly for young people (87%), most of whom now have some form of early education.

80% of people in Uganda are engaged in agriculture where coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco and beef are the main products with coffee being the country's main export. Its other main exports are fish, tea, gold and cotton. Recent oil discoveries are likely to boost the economy further however Uganda borders on the newly established Republic of South Sudan and the potential for instability there particularly if north Sudan switches off South Sudan's oil pipelines that run through its territory make cause an influx of refugees in a country that that already provides shelter for 1,400,000 refugees mainly coming from neighboring countries, especially South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although now a few years out of date, a recent survey shed some light on life in Uganda for most of its people. 92% of the population (given that only 12% live in urban areas), don't have electricity at home and nearly all use firewood as their main source of heating and cooking with tadooba (kerosene candles) being the main source of light. Around half of all households have a radio but just 5% have a television set and most rural houses are of traditional build with earth floors although an increasing number now have iron roofs. The picture is very different in urban areas such as Kampala where internet use and mobile phone possession is increasingly common.

The table below show's Uganda's HDI and component indicators for 2019 relative to selected countries and groups:

Country HDI Value HDI Rank Life Expectancy Schooling GNI/Capita
Uganda 0.544 159 63.4 6.2 2,123
Madagascar 0.528 164 67.0 6.1 1,596
Tanzania 0.529 163 65.5 6.1 2,600
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.547   61.5 5.8 3,686
Low HDI 0.513   61.4 4.9 2,745

Life in Uganda: Volunteer in Uganda

African Volunteer Work: Uganda

Check out all the latest fee paying and free African volunteer work placements and charity work job opportunities abroad with local projects and volunteering organisations in Uganda.

More >

Life in Uganda: Uganda Education

Uganda Education

A facts and figures profile about the education system for children in Uganda including primary and secondary education where many volunteer opportunities are available.

More >

Life in Uganda: Sponsor a Child

Child Sponsor Africa: Uganda

Details of how to sponsor children in Uganda with Ugandan child sponsor organisations, charities, programs and projects.

More >

Life in Uganda: Uganda Country Profile

African Country Profiles: Uganda

In another of our African country profiles, find out all about Uganda in a series of information articles, latest daily news, videos, and images together with volunteering and child sponsorship opportunities.

More >


Main sections of this site:

Volunteer by Country

Details of current volunteer work
opportunities in each of the
countries of Africa.

More >

Sponsor a Child
Sponsor a Child in Africa

Find how to sponsor a child in Africa
with our list of organisations,
charities, programs and projects.

More >

All About Africa

Discover all about Africa, its tourist
attractions, history, people, culture
and daily life there.

More >

African Resources

A treasure trove of African
resources from webcams to
free downloads and news.

More >