Uganda is located in Eastern Africa and borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Tanzania. This country occupies a total area of 241,038 square kilometers1 and has a population of 32,369,558.2 Children fourteen years of age or younger account for 50% of the population,3 and 35% of the population is below the poverty line.4 People living with HIV/AIDS number 940,000; the rate of prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults is 5.4%.5 Besides HIV/AIDS and poverty, armed conflict has also had a devastating effect on the children of Uganda.6
According to 2004/2005 estimates, approximately 14.59% of Uganda’s children, aged seventeen or younger, were orphans: 2.84% were maternal orphans, 8.89% were paternal orphans, and 2.71% were double orphans.7 In 2003, AIDS-related deaths accounted for approximately 48% of all orphans.8 In a 2004 policy document, the government of Uganda estimated that 10,000 street children were living in the country’s cities.9
A 2006 survey showed that one in four households in Uganda were caring for orphans.10 But extended family members and communities have been heavily impacted by poverty and HIV/AIDS and are relying more and more on civil service organizations to support the children.11 Additionally, “the conflict in northern and eastern Uganda has been a major contributor to the breakdown of family and traditional structures, loss of productive assets and livelihoods, and an increase in child-headed households with consequent disruption in the provision of basic social services.”12
As early as the 1990s, the government of Uganda began to address the orphan crisis by instituting policies to encourage families and communities to care for the orphans and to relegate institutional care to “last resort” status.13 “Re-integrating children living in institutions . . . into caring families and communities,” and “reducing the bureaucracy related to fostering, guardianship and adoption procedures,”14 were two courses of action identified by Uganda’s government in 2004 as requiring “increased focus and attention.” In a 2007 report, however, the government of Uganda noted that “despite the impressive array of supportive policies and instruments . . . effective implementation still remains a challenge.”15
A study of 23 receiving states revealed that between the years 2003 and 2009, approximately 238 Ugandan children were adopted by citizens of other countries.16
1 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2010). Uganda. In The world factbook. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ug.html.
2 CIA, 2010. July 2010 estimate.
3 CIA, 2010. 2010 estimate.
4 CIA, 2010. 2001 estimate.
5 CIA, 2010. 2007 estimate.
6 Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. (2007). Advocacy with and for orphans and other vulnerable children: Findings from qualitative research in Uganda (Draft). Retrieved from http://www.crin.org/docs/QualitativeStudyFeb5.07.pdf, p. 5.
7 Mishra, V., & Bignami-Van Assche, S. (2008, September). Orphans and vulnerable children in high HIV-prevalence countries in sub-Saharan Africa. DHS Analytical Studies No. 15. Calverton, MD: Macro International Inc. Retrieved from http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/AS15/AS15.pdf. p. 18.
8 UNICEF. (n.d.). A Ugandan village rallies around children orphaned by AIDS. Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/uganda_29786.html.
9 Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. (2004, November). National strategic programme plan of interventions for orphans and other vulnerable children: Fiscal year 2005/6-2009/10. Retrieved from http://www.ovcsupport.net/libsys/Admin/d/DocumentHandler.ashx?id=828. p. 17.
10 Borda, M., & Datta, S. (2008, December). Highly vulnerable children: 2008 country profile for Uganda. Washington, DC: Futures Group International. Retrieved from http://www.healthpolicyinitiative.com/Publications/Documents/681_1_OVC_Country_Profile_Uganda_FINAL.pdf, p. 1.
11 Kalibala, S., & Elson, L. (2010, January). Protecting hope: Situation analysis of vulnerable children in Uganda 2009 (Final Report). New York, NY: Population Council. Retrieved from http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/2010HIV_UgandaProtectingHope.pdf. p. 71.
12 Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, 2007, pp. 5-6. Approximately 1.7 million people were “displaced from their homes in Northern Uganda,” and “almost 80% of these are women and children” (Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, 2007, p. 5).
13 Kalibala & Elson, 2010, p. 10.
14 Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, 2004, p. 11.
15 Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, 2007, p. 12.
16 Selman, P. (2010, December). African states of origin, 2003-2009: Number of children sent to 23 receiving states. Paper prepared for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Washington, DC. p. 2.