Uganda’s Predicament

Uganda spent decades battling HIV/AIDS and armed rebellion, and currently hosts over 1.3 million refugees from neighbouring countries despite its high population growth rate of 3.03%. Altogether, these occurrences have placed unwarranted pressure on the natural environment, and hampered equitable access to and quality of education. MPEEN supports vulnerable children to access quality education and the general population to conserve the environment.

What caused the current predicament in Uganda?

From 1988 to 2006, Uganda was the epicentre of violent conflict. The insurgence left behind several orphans and dysfunctional families as hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and over 1 million people were displaced.

On the other hand, in the 1980s, Uganda was also devastated by the HIV/AIDS scourge. The virus caused the death of so many Ugandans, destabilised several families, and left behind numerous helpless orphans.

Additionally, Uganda hosts over 1.3 million refugees. The most recent cases are from political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Besides being home to the refugees, Uganda’s population is growing at 3.03%. This population explosion places gigantic pressure on the natural environment and the educational resources.

What are the main educational and environmental challenges in Uganda?

Uganda possesses adequate and appropriate policies to aid equitable access to education, and to sustainably conserve the natural environment.

However, poverty in Uganda is on the rise. The number of poor people increased from 6.6 million (2013) to 8 million (2017). This heightened level of poverty and hunger in the country is a huge threat to the green environment and access to education.

Apart from hosting approximately 1.3 million refugees, Uganda’s population is growing at 3.03%. The booming population threatens to derail the country from achieving its education and environment targets.

The need for firewood, timber, settlement and infrastructure development, have caused uncontrolled felling of trees. This poorly regulated activity has reduced the national tree cover from 24% (1990) to 8% (2018). Most importantly, they have made Uganda susceptible to floods, drought and landslides.

Moreover, wetlands have become commonplace for settlement, agriculture, and industrialisation. Wetlands, in Uganda, are being degraded at 2.5% annually. Little wonder, the wetlands cover declined from 15.6% (1994) to 8.4% (2018).

In Uganda, the most dominant economic activity is agriculture. Unfortunately, 69% of Ugandans practice subsistence agriculture, and often employ conventional farming approaches such as bush burning, deforestation and excessive use of chemicals. These methods have harmful effects on the agricultural products and the environment.

The use of plastics, polythene and fossil fuels, in Uganda, is poorly regulated. As a result, the soil, air and water, are exposed to dangerous poisonous chemicals, and consequently reduce the quality of the environment. The 2019 WHO report shows that deaths from air pollution in Uganda increased from 70.5 (2012) to 155.7 (2016) per 100,000 people.

What still needs to be done?

Our work in Uganda is more crucial than we ever imagined because of rampant incidences of floods and landslides, heightening poverty, and increasing levels of pollution from fossil fuels, factories and agricultural chemicals. It is our promise to support all efforts to restore the green environment, educate the orphans and other underprivileged children, and support schools in providing quality and functional education.