The Ugandan economy is impressive. But high population growth and the effects of climate change have made the country one of the poorest in the world.




Official language

English, Swahili


241.550 km²


approximately 38.3 million

Population growth


Rural population

83.9 %

Gross domestic product

USD 27.5 billion

Per capita annual income

USD 1,820  

Share of agriculture in GDP


Severity of hunger according to the Global Hunger Index

Serious (26.4)

Human Development Index

0,483 / Rank: 163 of 188

Proportion of people living under USD 2 a day

19.5 %

Since 1986, when President Yoweri Museveni came to power after years of civil war, the East African country has steadily recorded positive economic growth. The number of inhabitants living under the poverty line has been cut in half, deaths from malaria have declined and literacy levels have increased. Nevertheless, Uganda is ranked 163rd out of 188 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. This is partly due to rapid population growth, which is consistently higher than three percent, and which has neutralized the country's economic successes. Each woman has an average of 5.97 children, and more than 70 percent of the population is younger than 24 years old. In addition, Uganda is home to a large number of refugees seeking refuge from neighboring conflict zones. There are currently 750,000 from South Sudan alone.


In view of these circumstances, land has become a scarce resource. Progressive climatic change has decreased productivity, and unreliable rainfall has led to crop failures and food shortages. Many try their luck in the city, where they mostly live in slums under precarious conditions.


Plenty of water, poor harvest

About 80 percent of the population works in agriculture. Since they are mainly engaged in subsistence farming, the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product is only around 25 percent. The small farmers usually only have a small piece of land to cultivate. According to the data, the population is growing at a much faster pace than agricultural productivity and food production, so that greater shortages are to be expected in the future.


At the same time, Uganda, roughly six times the size of Switzerland, offers ideal conditions for fertile land. With its numerous lakes and rivers, it is considered the most abundant land of East Africa, and it is one of the sources of the Nile. But in addition to population growth, climate change also poses a major challenge for Ugandans. The rainy season is becoming more unreliable and there are droughts in which there is no rainfall. Drought particularly affect farmers in the northern and eastern parts of the country, and excessive rain causes crops to deteriorate. Unsupervised deforestation is also contributing to the worsening of the climate. One consequence is malnutrition and undernourishment.


Coffee and fish are especially affected

This affects not only products for domestic consumption such as cassava, millet and bananas, but also important exports, most notably coffee, the country's main export. Even with a temperature increase of two degrees, the area suitable for the cultivation of Robusta coffee would be drastically reduced and millions of workers would be affected. Already, farmers are complaining about declining yields and rising prices. The vulnerable exports also include fish. Fish is caught on Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. But the sinking water level in the lake, which is fed almost exclusively from rainwater, endangers the breeding areas of many different species of fish and threatens the livelihood of the population living on the lake.


Nomadic tribes are competing for grazing land and water reserves.


Faced with this situation, many people have been forced to flee to the cities. The Ugandan capital of Kampala is growing, and its aging infrastructure has been unable to keep up. The city has more than two million inhabitants, and large sections of the city do not have sewers. In the slums, sewage and household waste flow through the streets, posing a major health risk. The drinking water supply is relatively stable, but even there, there are constant shortages. Karamoja, a semi-arid region in the northeastern part of the country, is characterized by poverty. Here, nomadic tribes are increasingly competing for grazing land and water reserves. This competition has developed in part from a drought that has lasted for years, resulting in conflicts, including armed cattle raids.


ZWEIERLEI BREI Die zwei wichtigsten Nationalgerichte Ugandas sind zwei verschiedenartige Breis. Der eine nennt sich Matooke und wird aus Kochbananen hergestellt und wird mit einer Erdnusssoße verfeinert. Der andere ist ein Maisbrei mit dem Namen Posho. Beide werden traditionell mit der Hand gegessen, dazu gibt es eine Fisch- oder Gemüsebeilage.

Hope in agriculture and oil 

In its "Vision 2040" presented in 2013, the Ugandan government formulated some extremely ambitious goals, including increasing per capita income twentyfold by 2040 and attaining the status of a country with high median income. To date, however, the available budgetary funds have been insufficient to implement the necessary reforms.


In its national development plan, the government follows the Sustainable Development Goalsd sets goals to improve health, reduce inequality, and address climate change by 2030. Furthermore, the governments puts hope on the oil deposits found in 2011 around Alterta Lake. Uganda is currently seeking investors to build its own  refinery. The government plans to invest the revenues in education, infrastructure and services.


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