In much of northern and eastern Uganda, 20 years of civil war took
a heavy toll on children. It is estimated that as many as 26,000 children were
abducted, raped and forced into servitude and military combat.
But relative peace has now returned, and Uganda is one of the
fastest-growing economies in Africa.
It is also the country with the world’s most youthful population,
with children younger than age 15 accounting for more than half of the
population. And many are still recovering from the effects of the country’s two
decades of conflict as well as its high incidence of HIV and AIDS.
ChildFund has served children in Uganda since 1980.
Early Childhood Development
From birth to 5 years is the most critical time of development in
a child’s life. In Uganda, we have built more than 70 Early Childhood
Development Centers in 40 communities to promote children’s cognitive, social
and motor development. Communities are vital to the success of the centers;
parents contribute much of the food their children consume at the center, help
take care of (and sometimes even build) the facilities and ensure there are
volunteers to work in them.
The centers also provide regular child and maternal health
services, including routine immunization, growth monitoring, training on the
prevention and control of infectious disease and hygiene education. While the
centers provide students with nutritious meals, they also operate demonstration
gardens and kitchens to work with community members to develop a more
In schools, teachers and school counselors are sensitized about
how best to support orphans and vulnerable children, many of whom are
HIV-positive and have experienced the death of a parent or caregiver.
Activities include school counseling desks, supporting infrastructure
development and basic school facilities, providing vocational training for
out-of-school youth, promoting adolescent health and HIV/AIDS prevention and
supporting music, dance and drama performances on themes like gender-based
violence, girls’ education and child rights.
ChildFund Uganda’s health interventions are focused on disease
control, reproductive (maternal and adolescent) health and family planning, and
water, sanitation and environmental health. Malaria, respiratory infections and
diarrhea are the primary causes of death for children under 5 in Uganda.
Malaria interventions focus on training community members to
provide community-based treatment and working with government health units.
ChildFund’s malaria prevention program teaches children and families the
importance of using treated bed nets to avoid exposure. Prevention activities
include providing treated mosquito nets to children and pregnant women.
ChildFund also has supported 50 community-based organizations to provide
immunizations, diarrhea and malaria prevention services and access to clean
water and proper sanitation.
Children Affected by HIV and AIDS
An estimated 1.2 million children and adults in Uganda are living
with HIV or AIDS, 64,000 of whom die annually. Treatment is difficult to access,
and young people are left without parents or caregivers. ChildFund’s efforts
around HIV and AIDS thus remain an important component of its work in Uganda.
At a national level, ChildFund Uganda’s priority HIV/AIDS
interventions focus on behavioral change by providing information, education
and services to young people and their communities. Communication campaigns
aimed at youth, parents, teachers and community leaders have been developed to
promote HIV/AIDS education in schools, facilitate parent-child discussions,
work with the media to promote facts and support the creation of performances
and discussions in communities through drama and sporting activities.
The ChildFund livelihood security strategy is designed to support
parents and caregivers in mitigating the effects of poverty, HIV and AIDS and
conflict on children. Interventions include promoting entrepreneurship skills,
developing savings and loan systems, working with partners to teach farmers how
to improve production, providing start-up farm inputs and seeds and supporting
vocational skills training.