Observations from Kampala (Uganda)


Food service at a school in Kenya.

Food service at a school in Kenya.

Yesterday I had spaghetti at a restaurant in Jinja (Uganda) for 4,500 shillings, about $2.25. 

For an American abroad, eating is East Africa is cheap, but for the majority of the population in Uganda, even my pasta would have been out of reach. There are pockets of relative wealth around the area, but they are lined with poverty. With over 31 million people living in a country smaller than Oregon, there simply isn’t enough to go around.

Kampala’s energy is generated from dams on the Nile River (in Jinja) and is transmitted via power lines, where near 50 percent is lost in transit. Power outages are not uncommon. This is just one example of problems that effect this region that most Americans cannot begin to fathom.

When I talk to people in the states, I often hear the comment, “Well, one dollar goes further in a third world country than it does here.” While this is absolutely true, it doesn’t make it any easier for the masses here in Uganda.



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8 responses to “Observations from Kampala (Uganda)

  1. I heard someone once say that folks in some 3rd world countries were ‘used to’ not wearing shoes–so didn’t miss them. I recall thinking–well sure, but there are consequences to being always barefoot other than just fashion. Parasites, injuries, cold etc. Americans probably will never really understand the depth of problems caused by poverty.

  2. I just learned about something which I think would have been awesome to know last September when you were so worried/frustrated about the healthiness of eating no fresh food. You could have….

    sprouted legumes!

    I don’t know a ton about this, but dried beans will sprout if they are soaked and left at a warm temperature, so you could have had (and still could have) fresh sprouts grown quickly on your kitchen counter!
    More about this is explained here: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/

  3. We do take for granted in the U.S. all we have. That is a terrible thing for people to suffer and starve while we chase the latest fashion and spend money on stupid things when it could keep people from hunger.

  4. Mia

    Wow, that’s pretty shocking to be honest,
    I couldn’t even imagine living on roughly 50p a day.

  5. It’s true a dollar doesn’t go anywhere in Uganda. However, you could have had a meal more nutritious than a plate of spaghetti for much less.

    For instance, for lunch today, I had a meal of rice, steamed potatoes, squash, eggplant, bitter herbs (nakati) and beans for only 1,700 shillings. That is about a dollar. If it was a plan potatoes, eggplant and beans meal, it would have cost only 1,300 shillings. Less than a dollar.

    Many, many Ugandans have no choice, but to live with that dollar – and they make do. They grow their own food, they use gas and kerosene instead of electricity, they walk instead of using taxis, they use taxis instead of driving … They make do.

    P.S.: I just found your blog and I’m really enjoying it.

  6. readytowrite

    Great way to tie in your traveling to this blog. Please post any links if you’re writing any other blogs at the moment. Thanks and keep it up!

  7. AZ Citizen

    I don’t understand what the point is of people who dismiss the question of hunger with that “third-world” argument. Is hunger, malnutrition, and unequal access to good quality and affordable food therefore not a reality in the US?

  8. We really take for granted what we’ve got in the more “fortunate” countries. Keep on posting your experiences, for people to see.

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