Since 1986 Uganda has made progress from the shackles of harsh dictatorial rule that marred the country for the previous decades and brought Uganda to economic ruin, however those decades of conflict have left Uganda as one of the world's poorest country hampering its ability to catch up on the social progress and infrastructure that is required to provide a reasonable standard of living for all its people. The situation in the north of the country is particularly dire where over 1.8 million people have been displaced and 60,000 children abducted, many then forced to become child soldiers and are psychologically traumatised by the Lord's Resistance Army that runs rampant across the north destroying families and communities. Whilst the situation is improving with the LRA in abeyance, the plight of child night commuters still prevails.
In the more secure south of the country, children in Uganda still face many difficulties. Just under 50% of the population is aged 14yrs or younger and life expectancy is around 54 years. Uganda continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world 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. Around a third of the population live in poverty. 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 57% for females. 18% of children never enrol at school and a further 66%, who have enrolled, drop out during their primary and secondary school years. Attendance at school is also affected by the high rates of malaria with 40% of all students being affected at any given time.
Health issues are a major concern for children in Uganda; 26,000 children under the age of five die every year die from diarrhoeal diseases and about a quarter of all children in Uganda do not have adequate food supplies for all or part of the year. As with other countries across Africa, and indeed the world, Uganda has a rising number of street children and its estimated that around 5000 children beg, scavenge, wash cars, steal or sell their bodies for daily survival. Unlike their counterparts in neighbouring Kenya, these children do not tend to sniff glue, rather bhang which is brought in from Somalia, via Moroto. It is this drug taking that the authorities account for the increase in violence in cities like Kampala. This video documentary provides further glimpses into daily life for children in Uganda.
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