Child Poverty in Uganda: Jessica’s Story

Jessica and her child experience multiple deprivations

UNICEF Uganda
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
30 March 2018

In Uganda, 55 per cent of all children live in poverty and in Jessica’s region in Karamoja, child poverty is estimated at 68 per cent.

child povery in uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
Imagine being a young adolescent girl, with a one year-old baby of your own, and ailing aging parents. This is the reality of 15 year-old Jessica Loyang from Kaabong District, Karamoja region, North Eastern Uganda. Jessica and her child are experiencing multiple deprivations, they are living in poverty.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
In 2016, Jessica dropped out of primary school due to an early pregnancy, while in her fifth grade. The man responsible for her pregnancy fled the village, leaving her with responsibilities far too burdensome for her teenage shoulders.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
Jessica instantly became a single parent. She not only fends for her son, Samuel now two years old, but also for her elderly parents. A child born in extreme poverty is more likely to be malnourished, unable to go to school among other consequences. Jessica fears for the future of her child if her condition doesn’t change.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
While other 15 year olds prepare themselves for school each day, Jessica’s day begins with performing light domestic chores at home like sweeping the compound.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
She then heads out to fetch water for utilisation while she is away, at a borehole located some thirty minutes away and back.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
Jessica then prepares her baby for the day, before leaving him with her partially blind mother. She is determined to give her child the best. With the little money earned, Jessica buys additional food stuffs and sometimes milk to supplement her baby’s diet, who mostly eats porridge, in addition to his breastfeeding.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
Jessica fetches firewood for sale. She treks some two kilometres to the nearby trading centre to sell it off for UGX 2,000 (app 55 US cents). To earn more, she has to walk an additional 2 kilometres to the nearest town where she can sell it for UGX 3,500 (app 97 US cents). Earning about UGX 8,000 ($2.23) every week.
Child poverty in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Everett
Jessica wishes to return to school to enjoy the benefits of completing school. Education helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty ensuring a better future for her son. UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is advocating for the adoption of child-sensitive social protection grants to transform the lives of many children like Jessica