The Poorest People in Uganda Are Getting Worse

This East African nation is known for stability. But drought and rising prices are fueling insecurity. In a country where the poor make up two-thirds of the population, farmers are suffering the effects of the recent drought in many ways: they are losing their crops to disease, and most farmers believe the poor should be doing the planting. A government official calls the population “pawns of development.”

In the capital, Kampala, the streets are filled with people seeking food, water, and jobs. Residents of Kampala speak of a “crisis” that has made it hard to live in harmony with one another.

In this impoverished country, with a GDP per capita of $770, the poorest are experiencing the worst effects of the drought, while the richest people are benefiting from the rain.

Hassan Sadiq, a middle-aged father of five who lives in a Kampala apartment, is struggling with the effects of drought. His wife and three children live in the United States, but Hassan is trying to do everything he can to make ends meet. Recently, Hassan, his wife, and the children left to go to their mother’s house in Kenya. Hassan’s eldest child, 11-year-old Fatuma, is the only child who remains in Kampala. She is sick with pneumonia and the family urgently needs money to buy medicine.

“Drought is my biggest problem,” Hassan reflects. Hassan is working for his brother’s food business that makes profits by selling food to local shops. He earns a steady salary of $500 a month. But the rain he received last month has not come quickly enough to make his business profitable this year.

Hassan, who has a degree in agricultural economics, worries about the future of this family business and its clients. “People are eating more and more, but some farmers are also losing their crops.”

Kilalem Ngala, an economics professor at Makerere University in Kampala, says that the drought-related impacts are worse for local people than for the rest of the country. “The impacts of drought are much more serious for rural people when compared to the rest of the country.”


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