We are working in Kabarole District, Western Uganda. The dominant tribe in Kabarole is the Batooro, who are the traditional people of this land. Kabarole has a population of approximately 400,000, with most rural peasants practising subsistence agriculture. There is a growing middle class in Fort Portal town (the district centre). There are several areas of national park in Kabarole district, and the beautiful scenery and wildlife attracts significant numbers of tourists annually to this area of Uganda.

Some of the challenges faced by the people of 470,000 residents of Kabarole include: natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides (the district is located on a fault line); the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and potential resulting political instability; land pressure due to high population growth; high levels of poverty and unemployment; and very high levels of HIV/AIDS (even compared to other regions in Uganda). Traditionally, women have very little power in Batooro society.

While there are 2 larger hospitals in Kabarole (one government, one Catholic) these serve as referral units for much of the western region and thus are over-burdened and under-staffed. The combined lack of effective preventative health initiatives in the rural population and the poor state of health services, results in the residents of Kabarole falling sick often and facing dire consequences. They suffer needlessly from many health issues that could be countered with simple prevention, education and treatment. The leading causes of death in Kabarole include: malaria, acute respiratory infections (pneumonia), HIV/AIDs related illness, worms and STIs.

Poverty and sickness create a vicious cycle. When people are unwell, they cannot earn an income, they require money to pay for treatment, they are less likely to be able to afford education for their children, etc. Paradoxically, while sickness makes people poorer, poverty also leads to sickness, with a lack of health literacy, lack of access to clean water, lack of good nutrition, exposure to HIV/AIDs and other factors all leading to poorer health outcomes.

  • Malaria is the leading cause of ill health and death in Kabarole
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 11.3% - high even for Uganda
  • The maternal mortality ratio currently sits at 435/100,000 births
  • Children are highly valued as a sign of wealth and prestige, as seen by each woman bearing an average of 7 children during her lifetime
  • The under 5 mortality rate currently sits at 129/1000
  • Women’s lives are characterised by high levels of poverty, illiteracy rates, heavy work-loads and powerlessness, low participation in decision making even on matters that concern their lives.

Population Information about Fort Portal
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