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Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa, roughly three times the size of Ireland. Most people live in rural areas and make their living from agriculture. Although Uganda has had consistently high economic growth rates and a strong record in the response to HIV and AIDS, it has struggled to ensure that all its citizens benefit equally. Ireland works with a range of partners including government, non-governmental organisations and multi-lateral organisations  supporting programmes and working to influence policies that ensure children can go to school and get a good education, that the most vulnerable communities are supported, that citizens have a greater say in how their country is run and that systems of accountability function effectively

  • Overview
  • Background
  • Our Work
  • Results


Uganda at a glance

Population 37.6 million
Proportion of people living on less than $ 1.25 a day 38%
Ranking on UN Human Development Index 2011 164 out of 187 countries
Partner Country since 1994


Ireland and Uganda

We opened our Embassy in Uganda in 1994, when we established our official aid programme. Since then, Irish Aid has worked with a variety of partner organisations including government institutions, UN agencies, international research institutions and aid agencies to deliver on our development objectives in Uganda.

In 2012, the government suspended €16 million of development assistance which was due to be channelled through Government of Ugandan systems, following the discovery of fraud in the Office of the Prime Minister. The Government of Uganda has since refunded in full the €4 million of Irish Aid funding which was misappropriated. Ireland continues to press the Government of Uganda for concerted actions following the fraud. A number of investigations are in process and one prosecution has been secured. We continue to support the work of the Office of the Auditor General in carrying out follow-on inquiries and audits. In 2014 and 2015 , the Irish Aid programme is being implemented through trusted non-Government systems. The Evaluation and Audit Unit within the Department continues to provide strong financial oversight to the programme.

A new Country Strategy Paper for Ireland’s programme in Uganda from 2016 to 2020 is now in place.

As well as providing assistance through our bilateral aid programme, we support the work of local and international aid agencies and missionary organisations in Uganda through our civil society funding schemes.

We are working to deepen the trade and investment links between Uganda and Ireland in ways that benefit both countries. An Irish business network  meets regularlyAnd a number of research and learning partnerships between higher education institutions in Ireland and Uganda are supported through the Programme of Strategic Co-operation.




Uganda gained its independence from Britain in 1962 but went on to experience a long period of hardship under the oppressive regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote before take-over of Government in 1986 by President Yoweri Museveni.  President Museveni was re-elected for a fourth time in 2011, the first being in 1996.   Elections are due in early 2016.

Politically, Uganda is relatively stable. Its  ninth Parliament and a free press have both shown themselves willing to hold the Government to account for its policies and decisions.  And the fighting that had plagued northern Uganda is now largely over, although the country remains vulnerable to civil unrest, human rights issues and corruption.

There has been a general improvement in the observance of human rights, access to justice, security of people and property, and adherence to the rule of law and due process. This can be attributed in some way to improvements in the functioning of the legal system in Uganda. 

In particular, the use of the sector-wide strategy, the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS), has helped decentralise the delivery of justice and has led to the establishment of codes of conduct and performance standards for legal sector personnel.  Despite these improvements, factors such as the huge case backlog, lack of necessary training for legal personnel, legislative bottlenecks and poverty itself significantly limit access to justice in Uganda.

Uganda has made good progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are closely aligned with its National Development Plan 2 . This Plan focuses on growing the country’s economy and increasing employment as well as ensuring that people have the services they need to be healthy, educated and productive

A primary school class in Kasese area of Uganda


Uganda’s economy continues to outperform other countries in the region. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is currently around 3.4%* with the services sector the main driver of economic growth.

Agriculture is the country’s main source of income with 66% of Uganda’s working age population deriving its income from farming. Uganda’s major exports are all agro-based; with coffee as the leading export commodity.  Contribution of the agriculture sector to growth and development continues to be inhibited by low levels of public investment, limited mechanisation and unfavourable land use policies. 

The country is rich in natural resources such as cobalt and copper. And the recent discovery of oil, which could yield between US$2 and US$5 billion in additional revenues per year, has the potential to help Uganda achieve its goal of becoming a Middle Income Country.


Despite its impressive economic growth, Uganda is ranked 161 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index (Ireland is currently ranked seven). More than 8.5 million Ugandans still live in poverty.  One of the poorest regions in Uganda is the Karamoja region in the north east of the country where 75% of the population is classified as poor. Years of armed conflict, and the effects of climate change have led to chronic poverty and food insecurity.   

Gender-based violence is a persistent problem in Uganda, in spite of legislation that has attempted to address the issue. Ugandan women are also at high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, although improvements have been made in under-five mortality rates. Uganda also has a serious shortage of trained health workers, which is affecting the Government’s ability to improve health services.

In spite of these challenges, progress has been made in other areas. There are almost 5 million more pupils in primary schools today compared to 1997, even more impressive considering more than half the population is below the age of 15 years.

Life expectancy has increased from 45 years in 2003 to 54 years in 2011. And the country has seen a significant drop in the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate, which is currently at 7.3% compared to 18% in the 1990s. However, Uganda now needs to consolidate the gains it has made in reducing HIV prevalence. Recent trends are a cause for concern.  The disease accounts for one third of all adult deaths and over half of all deaths among children under the age of five.

*Source: World Development Indicators

Our Work

In Uganda, Irish Aid works in support of the Ugandan Government objectives to reduce the poverty and vulnerability of its people by ensuring that they are healthy, educated, and able to achieve their full potential.  In doing so we engage with a variety of partners at national and local level and we focus on delivering results for poor men and women in the following areas:

Asaba Moses picking tea on a farm in Uganda

A focus on the most vulnerable communities in Karamoja

Chronic poverty is a reality for many people living in Karamoja, a region which is frequently subject to drought and hunger.  Irish Aid support people living in extreme poverty in Karamoja in a number of ways. Regular, modest cash payments are made to 3,500 of the most vulnerable and marginalised households, thereby preventing families from falling further into poverty.

We are financing a major school rehabilitation/ building programme in Karamoja. We also provided support for the secondary education of over 1,300 students in the Acholi and Karamoja regions and 25 university scholarships per year for students from the poorest families to continue their education, 65% of which go to girls. 

Edith teaching children in their local language at a school in Kabugho

Ensuring a better education for girls and boys

As well as supporting a school rehabilitation project in Karamoja in 2014 and 2015, we will continue to provide through two local NGOs for bursaries and scholarships for education. Over 1,000 secondary school students and 40 tertiary students have received bursaries to date. It is also proposed to continue the existing education project in cooperation with JICA (Japan international cooperation agency) to improve the standard of maths and science teaching (SESEMAT) in Karamoja.

Responding to HIV and AIDS

In 2014 and 2015, a number of initiatives will continue to be rolled out to strengthen the local government and local level responses to the AIDS pandemic in the Karamoja region.

Irish Aid supports a HIV/AIDS Partnership Fund, made up of international donors, which is the major source of funding for HIV/AIDS coordination and management efforts for national and district level stakeholders. These stakeholders include NGOs, faith based organisations, the media, private sector groups and local government/public sector bodies. Activities include measures to strengthen planning, networking, knowledge and resource management, monitoring and evaluation, and joint advocacy/lobbying. 

The Embassy contributes to the Civil Society Fund (CSF), a multi-donor funding mechanism supported by DANIDAand Irish Aid. Assistance is provided for prevention, care, treatment and support services for those affected by HIV and AIDS.  

Increasing access to justice for poor and vulnerable people

To ensure that poor and vulnerable people have access to justice, we support Uganda’s key justice, law and order institutions. An element of the Justice and Law Sector programme has been a joint training initiative involving the Garda Síochána and the UK/Police Service of Northern Ireland working with the Ugandan police (UPF).  The main focus of Irish support has been in the area of community policing, and strengthening the management capacity of the Ugandan Police Force. 

Responding to gender-based violence

We are strengthening our approach to prevention and response programmes, working  with local government and civil society organisations, focusing on regions which have the highest prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country. In collaboration with other development partners, we are promoting and advocating for the development and implementation of a national GBV strategy.

After the Presidential elections and election monitoring the results are announced

Promoting accountability

We support a programme to deepen democracy in Uganda and provide assistance to a number of key civil society partners with a focus on human rights and accountability issues. In addition, over 90,000 local government officials have been trained in financial management through a reform programme that will help to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability within central and local governments.

Uganda’s discovery of oil has the potential to lift the country out of poverty. We are exploring ways that the energy sector in Uganda can become more transparent so that the revenues from oil are spent effectively and for the benefit of the people. 

Increasing economic opportunities

Growing the country’s economy is an important element of the Ugandan National Development Plan. Through our support for Traidlinks, an Irish non-profit organization, we are helping small and medium-sized enterprises to develop their business and identify regional market opportunities.

How we spend our budget

We spent in excess of €17million in support of our development programmes in 2015  (see Summary of Partner Country Expenditure by Sector) - Annex 9, Irish Aid Annual Report 2015

 ‌Expenditure by sector Uganda 2015



Uganda’s progress

At national level, Uganda has made significant progress in the following areas:

  • The national poverty status report, published in 2014 shows that the national poverty rate reduced from 24.5% to 19.7% between 2009 and 2013.
  • The number of women who experienced violence from their husbands or partners reduced from 68% in 2006 to 60% in 2011.
  • Improved efficiency in the Ugandan Court System led to a reduction in the backlog of court cases and greater access to justice for poor people. As a result, there was an increase of over 15% in the total number of cases concluded in 2012.
  • Over two thirds of children in Uganda are now finishing primary school, up by 13% from 2010.
  • Primary School enrolemen now stands at 95% with equal numbers of boys and girls in attendance.

How we have helped

Irish Aid has played its part in the progress made by Uganda:

  • Teacher housing, dormitories,kitchens, classrooms and sanitation facilities for 21 primary schools constructed in Karamoja.
  • The number of recipients of social assistance grants increased to 136,148 by the end of 2015 benefiting a total of 612,666 individuals.
  • 937 students received financial support from Irish Aid to attend secondary school.  The school bursaries benefited 587 girls and 350 boys.
  • 11 Judicial and prosecutor officers trained in Ireland on corruption investigation and corrution legislation.
  • In Karamoja, Irish Aid supported training for over 2,300 farmers on ways to increase their food security and improve their dietary diversity.
  • Through an Irish Aid supported Civil Society fund for HIV and AIDS, 820,000 households with orphans and vulnerable children were assisted with income generating activities. 
  • The numbers of children completing primary school in Uganda increased from 54% in 2010, to 67% in 2013, with equal numbers of boys and girls.
  • By the end of June 2013, 566,046 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment across Uganda.
  • In the Busoga Region, were Irish Aid Gender-based Violence (GBV) programme is being implemented, there has been an 18% increase in the number of GBV cases reported to the authorities.

Download the Irish Aid Country Strategy Paper

Irish Aid’s Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2016 – 2020 (PDF) sets out how we respond to the changing development environment in Uganda.