Sunday, May 24, 2009

Uganda Facts

The Peace Corps has three goals:

1) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2) Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3) Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

I'm going to take a crack at #3 now!



Uganda is located in Central-Western Africa, right on the equator.

It's a landlocked country with five neighbors: Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since Uganda's borders with Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo might make some people nervous, I'm just going to make a little note here about my safety:

1) Peace Corps told us that volunteers will not be placed in areas of concern and these areas are also off-limits to travel (i.e. in the North near the Sudanese border and along the Eastern border with the Congo).

2) We will have extensive training on safety issues during our pre-service training.

3)The Peace Corps has emergency evacuation pla
ns and they implement them if they feel volunteers are in any danger (such as during political unrest, like recently in Georgia and Madagascar).

In the south-west part of Uganda lies Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River! Uganda is also home to many other bodies of water and game reserves. 12 percent of the terrain is made up of national parks, forest, and game reserves.

Uganda’s land area is 96,456 square miles, including 17,600 square miles of open water or swampland. Uganda has an equatorial climate that is moderated by altitude.

Average annual rainfall varies from more than 84 inches around Lake Victoria to about 20 inches in the northeast. Vegetation is heaviest in the south, thinning out to savanna and dry plains in the northeast.

Over most of Uganda the weather is pleasant and not uncomfortable for much of the year. There is a lot of sunny weather with daily hours of sunshine averaging from six to eight and only much less than this in the wetter mountain districts.

Temperatures are never excessively high and humidity does not reach the consistently high levels found in equatorial lowlands. Wet spells lasting a day or two are not unusual but much of the rain comes in heavy thundery showers. There is no real cool season but the daily range of temperature is enough to make the nights cool rather than chilly.

For example, the maximum daily temperature in Kampala is around 77º F all year round, falling to 17 degrees centigrade 63º F at night. There are two periods of the year which experience considerably more rainfall than the average. These are March to May and October to November.

The total area of Uganda is a little smaller than Oregon with a population of around 30.9 million people.

85 percent are Christian while 12 percent are Muslim. World and local religions have coexisted for more than a century in Uganda, and many people have established a coherent set of beliefs about the nature of the universe by combining elements of the two. Except in a few areas, world religions are seldom viewed as incompatible with local religions.

English is the official language, with Luganda and Swahili also widely used. Other Bantu and Nilotic languages are common throughout Uganda. There are three major linguistic families in Uganda and about 50 distinct languages divided among them. The language families also tend to define the boundaries of cultural differences. I don't know what language I'll be speaking during service yet, I'll find out when I begin pre-service training.

Uganda is divided into 80 districts, spread across four administrative regions: Northern, Eastern, Central and Western. The districts are subdivided into counties. Most districts are named after their main commercial and administrative towns. Each district is divided into sub-districts, counties, sub-counties, parishes and villages. The capitol of Uganda is Kampala.

Uganda's population is predominately rural, with most residing in the southern regions.
The country is also now home to thousands of refugees from neighboring countries Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia, and Burundi.

Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, limestone, phosphate, and oil.

Cash crops--coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, cut flowers, vanilla; Food crops--bananas, corn, cassava, potatoes, millet, pulses; and Livestock and fisheries--beef, goat meat, milk, Nile perch, tilapia.

Industry: Processing of agricultural products (cotton ginning, coffee curing), cement production, light consumer goods, and textiles.

Trade: coffee, fish and fish products, tea, electricity, horticultural products, vanilla, cut flowers, and remittances from abroad.

The currency in Uganda is called the Ugandan Shilling. 1 Ugandan shilling = 0.000445335 U.S. dollars. 1 US Dollar = 2,245.50 Uganda Shilling.

During Uganda’s civil wars, the healthcare system basically collapsed. It is still barely functional outside urban areas, and in certain services, today’s care is worse than it was in
the 1980s.

The Peace Corps issues each volunteer with a medical kit (see page 45 of the Uganda Welcome Book). If the contents of my medical kit are unable to help me, the Peace Corps has wonderful medical staff and, if nothing seems to be helping in country or if I am in need of medical care not available, the Peace Corps will "medivac" me to either Kenya or back to the States for medical service.

Life expectancy has increased
from 44 to 47 years since 2000.

Health, nutrition, and child survival indicators have improved in part because of the government’s promotion of immunization to prevent childhood killer diseases such as measles, polio, and whooping cough. Howeve
r, many infectious diseases remain endemic, including respiratory tract infections, anemia, tetanus, malaria, and tuberculosis.

A significant accomplishment is Uganda’s vigorous, effective response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with adult HIV infection rates reduced by half over the past 10 years.

Nonetheless, about half a million Ugandans are living with HIV/AIDS, and 1.7 million children under age 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS — a number expected to double within the next 10 years. The epidemic has had a tremendous social, economic, and personal impact on the country and its people.

As a Community Health and Economic Development (CHED) volunteer, my primary duties will consist of working with individuals affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and working to create sustainable economic development strategies.

The Flag:
The Ugandan flag consists of six alternating black, yellow, and red stripes with an image of a red-crested crane, the national symbol, superimposed in the middle.

Well....I guess I'll leave your little lesson on that note. I gathered most of this information from the U.S. State Department, Adventure in Uganda, the BBC, and my Uganda Welcome Book.

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