In Eastern Uganda
Geography & Climate
- Uganda, known as the “Pearl of Africa” for its remarkable beauty, is rich with natural resources.
- The country’s climate is tropical — warm and humid. There are two dry seasons, December to February and June to August.
- The country, which is about the size as Oregon, is mostly a high plateau with a rim of mountains.
- The highlands of eastern Uganda are home to several prominent mountain ranges and peaks.
- The tallest peak in the region is Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano rising more than 14,000 feet above sea level. Rich volcanic soil eroding from Mount Elgon and other peaks make this land especially fertile.
The country’s fertile volcanic soil and numerous water sources make it well suited to agriculture, which employs more than 80 percent of Ugandans.
In the eastern region, coffee is a primary crop and the country’s main export, as well. However, subsistence farmers see little income from these exports.
Without irrigation systems, successful harvests are dependent on the weather, which is highly unpredictable. Too much rain is as destructive to crops as drought.
Less than 30 percent of adults have steady work.
Children at Home
Homes in rural eastern Uganda are small mud huts with dirt floors and straw roofs.
Extended families usually live together in a cluster of huts.
One kitchen hut serves all the family members, and sometimes older huts are used as stables for cattle.
Millet, a cereal grain, is a staple food. Women spend a lot of time and effort removing the chaff from the millet grains then grinding those by hand into flour.
Issues and Concerns
- Most of the population makes their living through small-scale farming. Although the soil is ideal for farming, the region suffers from drought and flooding, which frequently leads to crop failure and famine.
- In March 2010, landslides in Bududa, a district near the Mount Elgon mountain range, buried entire mountainside villages. More than 200 lives were lost, thousands were left homeless, and crops were destroyed.
- Because of the threat of future landslides, the Ugandan government has declared that area uninhabitable and is in the process of relocating families to other areas.
- People in the eastern region have been terrorized by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group fighting the government since 1987.
- The group, known for its brutality, killed many families and kidnapped children when it moved into eastern Uganda between 2000 and 2002.
- The eastern region ranks as Uganda’s highest producer and consumer of alcohol.
Local Needs and Challenges
Many people in this area depend on subsistence farming to survive, and unpredictable weather patterns can devastate household incomes.
This problem can permanently affect children’s physical and mental health.
Harmful traditional practices
Practices such as female genital mutilation are harmful to girls’ well-being. These practices lead to high rates of teenage pregnancy, child marriage, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Poor health care access
Because access to health centers and qualified medical personnel is limited in this poor region, children too often die of preventable illnesses.
Schools and Education
- The school year in Uganda has three terms: February through April, the end of May through mid-August, and early September to late November.
- Students typically attend school about 250 days each year.
- Among Uganda’s population, only 66 percent of those over age 15 are able to read or write.
- Among women, fewer than 58 percent are literate.
Compassion Uganda works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion serves children in Uganda’s eastern region through church-based child development centers.
Here, children have the opportunity to develop their talents and abilities.
Their healthy physical development is assured through nutritious meals, hygiene training, and regular medical checkups.
They also learn about their heavenly Father and are introduced to salvation in Jesus Christ.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in eastern Uganda, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- lessons for children and caregivers alike about the Bible-based principles of morality and family life in order to fight negative cultural influences
- special encouragement for girls to succeed in their educational pursuits. Often, centers connect girls with caring Christian women from their partner churches to be role models and mentors.
- training for caregivers in such topics as good parenting practices, the importance and how-to's of storing food and alternative income-generating skills, such as hairstyling and tailoring
- seminars for caregivers about how to manage small-scale businesses. As a result, many have launched their own income-generating enterprises and have joined together to form savings and credit cooperatives.