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  • Fund for War-Affected Children and Youth in Northern Uganda
  • c/o Mary Page
  • 140 S. Dearborn Suite 1100
  • Chicago, Illinois 60603
  •  Phone: 504.314.2714
At the heights of the conflicts, tens of thousands of children fled their homes nightly to avoid abduction by the LRA. These children known as “nights commuters”, slept in churches, hospitals, bus depots, and shelters in urban centers.

The Long Road to Recovery

Northern Uganda was a site of struggle, violence, suffering and mass displacement for more than two decades due to the brutal civil war between the Government of Uganda and the rebel forces known the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The root of this war is entwined with the history of conflicts in Uganda resulting from British colonial boundaries which grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. The rise to power of the National Resistance Movement  (NRM) was led by current President Yoweri Museveni in response to the civil strife that followed the infamous dictatorial regime of General Idi Amin. The NRM finally brought relative stability and growth to the country in the 1980s. But while the Central and Western regions of Uganda have remained relatively stable over the last 30 years, vast areas in the North were destabilized by the prolonged civil conflict between government forces and the LRA which sought to overthrow President Museveni and create a state based on LRA leader Joseph Kony’s interpretation of the biblical Ten Commandments.

Throughout the conflict, appalling atrocities were committed against civilians by the LRA. Children were specifically targeted and over 25,000 children were abducted and forced to take up arms and commit unspeakable atrocities against their own communities. Tens of thousands of children fled their homes nightly to avoid abduction and became known as “night commuters,” sleeping in churches, hospitals, bus depots and shelters in urban centers.  At the height of the conflict in the early 2000s, some 1.8 million people, including 90% of the population of the Acholi sub-region in northern Uganda, were displaced from their homes and languished for years in camps for the internally-displaced which were rife with disease and violence. Tens of thousands of people were killed, the region’s physical infrastructure including schools and health centers was devastated, and the war was characterized by widespread and systematic violations of human rights.

While there was no clear punctuation to mark the end of active conflict, the Juba Peace process initiated in 2005 shifted the situation in northern Uganda towards a relative peace. NRM forces pushed the LRA into neighboring countries and indictments by the International Criminal Court of top LRA commanders improved prospects for peace and justice. By May 2010, 99% of former internally-displaced persons had returned from camps and resettled permanently in their villages of origin. The emergency was over, but the long road towards recovery and redevelopment had just begun.

Bullets have stopped flying, but the pain of remembering lingers for children in northern Uganda.

Post-Conflict Development Situation

The legacy of the conflict left the population in a vulnerable state as a result of the disintegration of the social fabric and loss of traditional value systems. There was mass human displacement, death, loss of property and disruption of economic development and education opportunities. Returning home was a difficult process, hampered by the erosion of the rule of law, dependence on food rations and scarcity of resources in villages long ago abandoned. Livelihood options were limited, and despite tremendous international relief towards rehabilitation following the crisis, human development is still very poor. Youth who were born and raised in the IDP camps continue to struggle to find their way from dependency and desperation towards self-reliance and resilience.

Chronic poverty is rampant in Northern Uganda, with an average of 46% of the population experiencing severe and multidimensional poverty, a figure almost double that of the remainder of the country. The region continues to suffer from low levels of development compared to the rest of the country, and institutions in northern Uganda remain weak, understaffed and under-resourced resulting in meager provision of basic social services. The main source of livelihood for households is subsistence farming, with the sale of household agricultural produce as the main cash earner, but still some 68% of the population faces food or livelihood insecurity. Productivity is low by even regional standards and annual agricultural output growth has plummeted in recent years from 7.9% in 2001 to just 0.7% in 2010.

On the national level, the combination of the 2008 global financial crisis with poorly directed fiscal and monetary policy resulted in a severe contraction in GDP growth from an annual average of 9.3% from 2001-2008 to just 3.4% in 2012. GNI per capita was US$571 in 2013, life expectancy is just 59 years and only 54% of the population completes primary education. Conditions in northern Uganda are even more dire, making the case for international intervention ever more pressing.

The legacy of a brutal conflict simmers beneath the surface making increased efforts toward recovery and reconciliation urgent, particularly among young people. 


The colonial boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These differences prevented the establishment of a working political community after independence was achieved in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives. The rule of Yoweri Museveni since 1986 has brought relative stability and economic growth to Uganda. During the 1990s, the government promulgated non-party presidential and legislative elections. A constitutional referendum in 2005 cancelled a 19-year ban on multi-party politics.


Population: 35,918,915


Religions: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census) 


Languages: English, Ganda, Luganda, Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic 


Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 73.2% 


Median age:

total: 15.5 years

male: 15.5 years

female: 15.6 years (2014 est.)


Population growth rate:

3.24% (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9


Birth rate:

44.17 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 3

Infant Mortality Rate: 60.82 deaths/1,000 live births


Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 54.46 years

male: 53.1 years

female: 55.86 years (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210


HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

7.44% (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

1,561,900 (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 6

Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high

Source: CIA World Factbook



US Office - Get In Touch

  •  Fund for War-Affected Children and Youth in Northern Uganda
  • c/o Mary Page
  • 140 S. Dearborn Suite 1100
  • Chicago, Illinois 60603
  •  Phone: 504.314.2714



Gulu Office - Get In Touch

  •  Uganda Fund
    Plot 3 Erinayo Oryema Road
    P.O. Box 1541
    Gulu, Uganda
  •  Phone: +256.790.916.017
  •  Skype: Uganda.Fund
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