Photo: WFP/Thomas


The Situation

Uganda’s population has increased by nearly 15 million between 2002 and 2018. The country currently hosts the largest refugee caseload on the continent with more than 1.27 million refugees living in and around 10 rural settlements and urban areas. The country has received more than 1 million refugees from from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo since July 2016.

The discovery of significant oil reserves in Uganda is expected to boost future economic growth, along with improved agriculture and tourism through the second National Development Plan. However, although per capita income growth stands at about 2 percent, poverty is still widespread with more than 19 percent of the population living below the national poverty line.

The Karamoja subregion is Uganda’s poorest, with chronic food insecurity, poor access to basic social services such as education and health, environmental degradation, erratic rainfall and recurrent droughts. Despite improved security in the region, a combination of these factors has undermined the capacity of households to meet their basic nutritional needs and has led to high rates of stunting among children under five at 35 percent.

WFP's Work

In Uganda, the World Food Programme (WFP) works in collaboration with the government on a number of programs:

Nutrition – To prevent further stunting and micronutrient deficiencies among children, WFP is providing targeted food assistance to 26,000 mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of life, as well as treatment for moderate acute malnutrition among children under age five.

School meals – WFP provides school meals to increase enrollment and attendance. Some schools also implement a homegrown approach, utilizing fresh and local ingredients sourced from local parents and farmers.

Agriculture and market support – WFP supports 125,000 small-scale farmers to reduce post-harvest loss and improve household income, leveraging infrastructure and skills previously developed to enhance productivity, food quality and market access.

Emergency assistance for refugees and food-insecure people – In the northeastern Karamoja region, women and households headed by women are disproportionately affected by poverty, food insecurity and chronic stresses. WFP works to ensure refugees and vulnerable groups here have access to food to meet their immediate needs and enable participation in self-reliance building programs. The U.N. agency provides food assistance to refugees in the form of food and cash vouchers; mother and child health and nutrition programs to address stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and moderate acute malnutrition; resilience building activities, including food assistance for assets using e-cards and in-kind food; and enhancing government emergency preparedness and response.

  • A new study found that humanitarian food assistance for refugees in Uganda creates significant economic benefits for the local economy, and even more so when it is in the form of cash.
  • WFP has introduced a nutritional supplement called Plumpy’Sup for malnourished refugee children immediately upon their arrival at border points in northern Uganda.