Uganda: UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal for Children and Women: Jan-Dec 2000



  • More districts experiencing relative peace in 1999
  • Continued influx of refugees from neighbouring countries (Sudan and Republic of the Congo) - refugees total around 200,000 and internally displaced persons (IDPs) more than 500,000
  • 12 of 45 districts still considered insecure by UN, with a population of 4 million in those affected districts
  • The northern and some of the western districts consistently rate lowest in almost all human development indicators
  • Less than half the population in Gulu and Kitgum (including IDP camps) have access to safe water and sanitation facilities. A survey of 90 primary schools in the area revealed that only 2 per cent of these schools had adequate latrine facilities


For each sector, programmes will be targeted to assist IDPs in the crisis-affected districts of northern and western Uganda:

  • Increase availability of safe water to IDPs and primary schools for displaced children to at least 15 litres per day;
  • Increase access to latrines by 10 per cent;
  • Strengthen local capacity for early detection of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency and provide preventive measures such as vitamin A, iodized salt and other supplements;
  • Intensify support to district health teams for Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) and safe motherhood as well as to improve awareness and response to epidemics that plague displaced populations;
  • Expand basic education to more displaced children by expanding classrooms, providing supplies and equipment and training teachers;
  • Expand psychosocial support programmes to abducted and other traumatized children through community-based structures;
  • Reinforce advocacy campaigns to secure the release of more abducted children and to stop future abductions and forced recruitment of children into armed conflict.

The emergency programmes that are under way in Uganda are an extension of the larger development programme that UNICEF is undertaking. UNICEF's long-term development experience and knowledge of the local context and partners reinforces existing structures that are more sustainable and more appropriate than temporary structures.


Water and sanitation
Health and nutrition
Education and psychosocial support


The conflict in Uganda affects every Ugandan. In insecure areas, trade, cultivation, schooling, investment, cultural activities, tax collection and community development are all hindered. Qualified health workers, teachers, water technicians and agricultural extension workers leave for safer employment. Maintenance of roads, health clinics and water pumps falters and then stops altogether. Men, women and children are murdered and abducted. Each person in the area suffers from the trauma of having lost relatives, friends, leaders and community.

Adolescents lose their childhood as they are forced to look after their siblings, or to leave school for income, or to sell themselves for cash, or because they are stolen away and killed, conscripted by rebels or forced into sexual slavery. Young children lose their schools, their parents and often their lives. Women lose their husbands, lose the protection afforded them by their community norms and neighbours, and are victimized by rape and other sexual and gender-based violence. Women disproportionately shoulder the burden of displacement and flight as they struggle alone to collect water and food for their children.

Over the past year about 120,000 new IDPs sought refuge in camps in and around the Rwenzori Mountains. Whether IDPs, host families or residents, the population in this area is amongst the poorest in Uganda. The affected area is characterized by difficult access, outmoded agricultural practices and serious gender inequalities (very low literacy for females and high drop-out rates from school). In Kasese, where industrial potential appears significant, the benefits have yet to spread throughout the population. Coping mechanisms are therefore limited and vulnerability high (50 per cent of the children in Kasese are stunted, compared to the national average of 40 per cent).

The isolation and underdevelopment of these affected districts results in a dangerous lack of skilled workers, particularly in Bundibugyo. Whether in health, water, education or other sectors, the lack of sufficient and qualified staff is an acute problem both in preventing crisis and meeting emergency needs. Control of the cholera epidemic, repair of the urban water supply and distribution of relief food have proved beyond the capacity of the current numbers and skills of district staff. The lack of skilled personnel in health and water is considered a critical crisis by international aid agencies, who have already begun urgently training staff in epidemiological surveillance, how to run oral rehydration (ORS) centres, assist with distributions, etc.

The Government's ability to detect, respond to or facilitate response to an emergency in a timely manner is limited due to an inadequate annual budget at the Government's Department of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees (DDPR) and budget cuts at the units responsible for monitoring early-warning indicators. Increasing the financial and human resources provided to DDPR could assist the Government to monitor, coordinate and intervene effectively during crises.


The financial response to the CAP in 1999 was poor except with respect to food aid. Only Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan funded non-food aid projects, with only about 15 per cent of funding needs met.

UNICEF received support for psychosocial and water and sanitation projects and was able to continue its critical advocacy and support work with children formerly abducted by the LRA.

Significant progress was made in community-based psychosocial programmes, especially in Kitgum where there is particularly good collaboration between the district and NGOs.

UNICEF also provided tents and local materials for temporary classrooms in 18 displaced schools in Gulu, Kitgum and Masindi.

Supplementing the meagre emergency funds received, UNICEF worked through its Country Programme (approximately $22 million) to support national immunization, to assist with supply of water and sanitation in primary schools, to support basic education as well as adolescent health development. These national programmes were also carried out in conflict-affected areas where security permitted and thus helped mitigate the impact of the crisis on women and children.


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