The first Peace Corps Volunteers in Uganda were a group of 35 secondary education teachers who arrived on November 16, 1964. By 1967 the program had more than doubled in size, and in 1968 a health program was initiated with 15 additional Volunteers. As the Peace Corps program expanded in Uganda, several other programs were added such as fisheries, agriculture, vocational education, and surveying. Peace Corps terminated its program in 1973 due to civil unrest under Idi Amin. In 1989 President Museveni met with Peace Corps officials to discuss a renewed Peace Corps presence, and nine months later the Ugandan government extended a formal invitation to Peace Corps. The 1964 agreement was subsequently reactivated, and Volunteers returned to Uganda in June 1991, with the first 15 sworn in on August 31, 1991. The program continued to grow, with programs in primary education, technical education, civil engineering, protected areas management, community conservation, and micro enterprise development.
In May 1999, the program in Uganda was suspended due to local security concerns. At the time of suspension, there were 75 volunteers working in Primary Education Teacher Training, Women in Small Enterprise, and Natural Resources Management programs, with an expansion into the health sector planned. These projects reflected priority needs identified by the Ugandan government in its efforts to reform its educational system, promote sustainable growth in key sectors, and move to a more liberalized market economy.
Over the next year, two Peace Corps teams visited Uganda to assess the security situation and identify potential regions and criteria for programming. The decision was then made to reopen at the invitation of the Ugandan government, and field staff began work in August 2000. As a result of the closure, several policies are in place to make future program closures less likely in the event of similar insecurity.
In July 2013, 11 doctors and nurses joined the program as Global Health Partnership volunteers. These Volunteers serve as adjunct faculty to leading medical schools training doctors and nurses on the job. Uganda is one of the three countries chosen to pilot this historic program that established a new era for Peace Corps and especially Peace Corps Uganda.
In recent years, Peace Corps has expanded its programming to northern Uganda, based on clearance granted following a safety and security review. Post has gradually ramped up the number of Volunteers working in this area, focusing primarily on disease prevention, health promotion, and small-scale economic development, including agriculture and water.
Peace Corps Uganda has an average of 170 Volunteers in service under Education, Health, Agribusiness and Global Health Service Partnership Projects. The Education Volunteers are requested by the Ministry of Education and Sports and are assigned as members of staff to various Core Primary Teacher Colleges and primary schools around the country. Health and Agribusiness Peace Corps Volunteers work with non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, health centers and local government which are selected in relation to community needs.
To learn more about the Peace Corps in Uganda, check out our most recent Annual Report;