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UNICEF - Keeping children Alive, Learning and Safe

UNICEF interventions in Uganda: health, education, protection

Situation of children in Uganda

Children’s rights are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), to which Uganda is a signatory, and are also recognised in the Constitution of Uganda and the Children Act. 

However, despite sustained and substantial reductions in the proportion of Ugandans living below the poverty line over the past two decades, and not withstanding significant progress in improving the lives of children, 55 per cent of children under the age of five years are deprived of two or more of their rights.

The infant and under-five mortality rates have dropped since1990, but child survival remains a major priority for UNICEF. Undernutrition persists and accounts for 40 per cent of under 5 deaths, stunting is at 33 per cent, there remains limited access to clean water and sanitation and hygiene practices like handwashing are not often practiced, and AIDS is now the leading cause of adolescent mortality. 

On the education front, the primary school enrolment is high but quality remains poor and dropout rates are high in both primary and secondary schools.

Children’s right to protection continues to be a critical challenge given that: 8 per cent of children are critically vulnerable and 43 per cent are moderately vulnerable (MoGLSD, 2011 and UBOS, 2014) and still only 60 per cent of children are registered within a year of birth (UNICEF Uganda, 2015).

Despite many efforts to improve the lives of its citizens, Uganda was not able to meet several MDG targets in health and education. In the most under-developed part of the country – Karamoja region – 80 per cent of people live below the poverty line. In other parts of the country such as Eastern, Northern and Western regions, floods, landslides and disease outbreaks threaten the survival and livelihoods of families. 

Despite the recent decline in HIV prevalence in the general population (measured as adult 15-49 years) from 7.3 per cent in 2011 to 6 per cent in 2017, HIV still remains a major priority for the country. (Preliminary 2016 Uganda Population based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) Report).


Recognized globally for its dedication to helping children overcome poverty, disease, exclusion and violence, UNICEF supports national efforts to accelerate the realization of children’s rights.

To address the growing social inequalities in Uganda, UNICEF focuses its
programmes on the most marginalized parts of the country. 

In areas such as Karamoja region and Northern and Eastern Uganda, children experience the highest levels of deprivation in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, child protection, shelter and information.

Using innovations in digital technology and results-based programming, UNICEF supports the government and its partners to build sustainable and scalable programmes that increase the quality and coverage of basic services for children.

To tackle chronic vulnerability in the drought-prone Karamoja region and to support communities hosting refugees, UNICEF is also strengthening resilience by bridging humanitarian and development programming approaches.