United Kingdom

Uganda Network

Safety Issues
your ABC to survival in Uganda based on information provided to the Uganda 2000 contingent

our thanks to Eric Goulding for permission to use his document


The official figures show that around 40% of the population could be HIV positive, however the Ugandan people are not embarrassed to talk about it and are very much aware of the infection and it’s consequences. They are almost certainly more aware than young people in the UK. The same precautions that are necessary in the UK are required in Uganda, no casual sexual activity, care in first aid situations not to come into contact with blood products and only use new sterilised needles.


Bilharzia is a disease that afflicts 200 million people worldwide. The disease is carried by fresh water snails, which live in slow moving water near reeds. The cercariae which is barely visible to the naked eye is able to penetrate human skin.

To avoid the disease do not paddle or swim in slow running water near reeds and always use a towel vigorously after being in water.


Good camping practices coupled with a high standard of personal hygiene will keep you healthy in camp. Tents should be fitted with mosquito nets at any outlets and have a sown in groundsheet.

Dehydration / Diarrhoea

Dehydration can be a killer and must not be under estimated. Fluids should be taken at every opportunity remembering that all water must be boiled or obtain bottled water from a reputable source. Add some re-hydration packs to your personal first aid kit just in case you become dehydrated.

Most travelers suffer from bouts of diarrhoea at some time, try to eat only food that comes hot and avoid ice cream and ice in drinks. Peel fruits and remember basic hygiene rules.


You may be required to use equipment that is old or unfamiliar to you, if in doubt ask for assistance from an experienced person. Do not experiment with old pressure stoves, lamps etc.


Food in Uganda is usually plentiful albeit often not very interesting, most meals will be chicken of beef served in some form of stew with vegetables or rice. It is customary to be offered food when visiting private houses and it is only polite to accept even if you have just eaten! Large towns will have restaurants, which offer a variety of different dishes even chips are often on the menu.

Try to eat hot food and use boiled milk where possible, only drink bottled water or soda when you do not know the source of other water.

In villages you may find you have to eat with your fingers, this is normal practice and quite acceptable.


In Uganda it is quite normal to see police and security guards with guns and rifles. These weapons are usually old and may or may not be operational. Do not put yourself in a position where police or guards may get agitated; always co-operate even if you feel that they are being unjust. In the unlikely event of being in a vehicle which is hijacked, do not resist, just give up your possessions and smile. I would add that in six trips I have never experienced any form of hassle from any official or for that matter anyone else.

Hospitals and medical care

Hospital facilities are available in Uganda and will offer good basic care, however you may be many hours travel from that hospital. You should be aware that what would not be life threatening in the UK may well be in Uganda, simply because of the delay and uncomfortable journey to reach professional medical help.


Check with your own doctor what jabs you need, but Tetanus, Polio, meningitis, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis are usual.

Jumbo’s and other animals

In game reserves, remember these animals are wild and free, you may find yourself very close to water buffalo, Elephants, hippos or even Lions. Do not leave the vehicle or make sudden movements, follow the advice of the wardens to the letter! These animals are dangerous.

Kampala and other towns

Security is everyone’s responsibility, when traveling in vehicles, do not have your watch on the wrist by an open window, Uganda has its opportunist thieves just like London, Rome or any other city. Keep your money in a money belt next to your body, only keep enough cash for immediate use in you pocket or bum bag. Be aware and you will keep all of your possessions, be sloppy and drop your guard someone will take advantage. Travel in pairs and watch out for your friends. Avoid travel at night and always wear uniform when in town.

Safety on Roads

The main roads have a hard surface similar to road surfaces anywhere in the world but low maintenance can result in poor and sometimes dangerous driving conditions. Roads can be washed away in flash floods. Off the main roads the surface is murrum or sandy dirt which is dusty in dry weather and muddy when wet. It is advisable not to travel at night if for not other reason than it is easier to spot poor road conditions in the daylight.

The British High Commission has posted warnings about the road between Kampala and Uganda. An accident involving UK Scout Leaders brought home the need to ensure that all the normal procedures for emergency contact are maintained.

Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 9 April 2002



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