The first Peace Corps Volunteers in Uganda were a group of 35 secondary education teachers who arrived in the country 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 projects 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 projects in primary education, technical education, civil engineering, 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, and an expansion into the health sector had been 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. At the invitation of the Ugandan government, a decision was then made to reopen and field staff began work in August 2000. Experience with past closures have helped the Program to develop that would make future stoppages less likely and whenever they inevitably occur, less burdensome.
Selected as one of the five countries to pilot the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP), Uganda received its first cohort of eleven Volunteers in July 2013. The doctors and nurses served as adjunct faculty in five graduate medical schools across the country. At the time of its closure in December 2018, the GHSP had deployed a total of 54 GHSP Educator Volunteers who taught and mentored 2,557 across the partner institutions.
In recent years, Peace Corps has expanded its programming to all regions of the country except Karamoja that is yet to come on board after a full security review. Post has gradually increased the number of Volunteers working in Uganda, focusing primarily on disease prevention, health promotion, and small-scale economic development, including agriculture, water and sanitation. An average of 170 Volunteers work in the Education, Health and Agribusiness sectors. The Education Volunteers are assigned as members of staff to various Core Primary Teachers’ Colleges and Primary schools around the country while their Health and Agribusiness colleagues work with non-governmental, faith-based, and community-based organizations, as well as health centers and local government which are selected on the basis of the prevalent community needs.
To learn more about the Peace Corps in Uganda, check our Annual Reports;