Food & Daily life

Growing cities

The number of people living in Uganda’s cities is rising, as the young move away from the countryside to seek work.


BlackoutsIn this video… Uganda is notorious for blackouts, when electricity cuts out.

Kampala has a population of 1.6 million and there are several major conurbations in the south, while Gulu is the largest centre in the north.

With the improving economy, there is a growing middle class. This is reflected in the modern supermarkets and shopping malls which can be found in Kampala. However there are still many jobless and impoverished people and it is a common sight to see children begging on the streets.

The capital suffers from poor infrastructure; roads are heavily congested and there are frequent power cuts. With electricity both unreliable and expensive where it is available, over 90% of Ugandans rely on charcoal or firewood for cooking - see Economy & Industry.

Uganda currently has two hydroelectric stations (more plants are planned), but these do not provide enough electricity for the country’s growing demands.

A rural life for most

Rural housing in UgandaHowever, most Ugandans lead a rural lifestyle; 87% of the population still live in the countryside.

In the highland regions, many occupy smallholdings dotted across the middle slopes. The bottoms of valleys are generally swampy and hilltops are left for animal grazing.

Traditional homes are usually made of mud, with either thatch or corrugated iron roofs. Around their houses, Ugandans grow their own foods, such as plantains/bananas, as well as keeping some livestock. Many also have small coffee plantations for earning cash.

Local favourites

A maize dish

Meat or chicken stews are popular in Uganda served with rice, chapatti, ugali (a stiff maize porridge) or matoke (a cooked plantain/banana mash). For a sweet dish, locals enjoy a type of doughnut called mandazi.

With Uganda’s many lakes and rivers, fish are an important food. Local fish include the Nile perch, tiger fish and the ngege tilapia. A favourite recipe serves tilapia with a peanut sauce.

Soft fizzy pops are widely drunk in Uganda for cold drinks, with lager beer the most popular alcoholic beverage. Though many Ugandans grow coffee beans for a living, chai or tea is the favoured hot drink, brewed very sweet and milky.

Tilapia have been widely overfished. The fish is also preyed upon by the Nile perch, a predator which can reach two metres long. The perch were introduced into Lake Victoria by fishermen and now rule the water. However, fishing companies have started setting up commercial tilapia farms. These enterprises may threaten local fishermen, but their involvement in the area could lead to better protection of the lake from sewage, industrial and mining waste.