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VSO Uganda is working in the areas of education, health and secure livelihoods with rights, gender and inclusion integrated into the programme.

35 000 000
Capital city
GDP per capita
US$1 124
HDI ranking
161 out of 187
Life expectancy
54 years

Volunteers work with our partners to support national inititiatives and post-conflict recovery and development in nothern Uganda, in districts of Gulu, Lira and Kitgum.


Education is our largest programme mainly due to our UNICEF-supported project, Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards (2010-2014). The project aims to improve the quality of primary education and early childhood development, leading to improved learning achievements, completion and retention. The project covers all regions of the country working through primary teacher colleges.

Access to primary education in Uganda has increased since 1997 when a universal primary education policy was introduced. The Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015 is on track. However, the quality of education is perceived to have declined drastically over the same period. Challenges in education include low completion rates – a little over half of those enrolled complete primary school (56% of boys and 51% of girls), low literacy and numeracy levels, poor school infrastructure, and overall low quality of education services.


The poor and disadvantaged in Uganda are badly affected by preventable diseases. Health service provision and access are poor, and staff retention is a challenge. Our health programme focuses on implementing primary (preventive) healthcare services.

Nationwide, infant mortality in the five years preceding the 2006 DHS was 76 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the under-five mortality rate was 137. Infant and child mortality vary widely by geographic region with greater risk in rural areas.  Overall, the likelihood of dying in infancy is greatest in the Southwest, North, and Central regions. A mothers’ education makes a big difference to child mortality. Children born to women with at least some secondary education are much less likely to die than children of uneducated mothers. Forty-two per cent of births are attended by a skilled health professional (Demographics and Health Surveys, 2006).

Access to HIV and AIDS treatment is on track to meet targets for the Millennium Development Goals though infection rates remain relatively high. The national prevalence of HIV has increased slightly to 6.7% (March 2012) which is approximately 2.3 million people.

Secure livehoods

Our programme work supports local government and non-state actors in administration, planning, financial management, human resource and monitoring and evaluation in livelihood-related services.

We also include planning for and improving inclusive and sustainable livelihoods related services for marginalised groups including people with disabilities in our programme.

Current projects include: The Youth Employment and Local Governance project (2010-2013), funded by Greg and Sue Dyke; and Protecting and Empowering Children and Youth in Northern Uganda (2011-2013) is funded by Comic Relief.

More than 80% of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas and about 70% of the country’s population depends on subsistence rain-fed agriculture to survive. Young people, especially in the north, have low employment opportunities and a lack of education.

There is a widespread belief that agriculture will lead to economic recovery in northern Uganda. But there are challenges. Young people who have grown up in refugee camps are no longer familiar with agriculture, farming skills have been lost and land disputes are common.

Women do not traditionally own land and with the loss of their spouses during the war, so many women are left unable to secure a livelihood for their children. For the children who lost their parents during the war, land boundaries are also hard to trace. VSO will work to increase the income for women and young people by developing alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Contact us

Get in touch with VSO Uganda at:
PO Box 2831, Kampala, Uganda

Find out about volunteering

By volunteering abroad with VSO you get to put your skills, energy and personal qualities to work helping people break out of poverty. Interested in volunteering abroad?