The Shadow Crisis

Elspeth Dugdale | November 4, 2021

The Shadow Crisis
Shadow Crisis?

A recent UNICEF report refers to 'The Shadow Crisis' in Uganda. While it may be lurking slightly out of sight, it is nevertheless the sinister bi-product of the long school closure. This, in itself, has resulted in more than 15 million learners being kept at home. 


The obvious crisis is the total lack of nearly two years' education. That goes without saying.

But what does a shadow crisis look like in a country like Uganda?

  • No school-based meals and routine vaccinations
  • Increased social isolation and increased anxiety
  • Increased child labour, teenage pregnancies
  • Increased early/child marriages
  • Greater risk of abuse and violence
  • Fewer teachers as many have left the profession
  • Fewer private schools available as so many have closed down
  • Huge bottlenecks in certain year groups as students return.
  • Youngest children will be three years' late in starting nursery school.
  • Ongoing loss of parental income (due to lockdown) leads to greater poverty for the whole family and a lack of cash to pay upcoming school fees.

In addition, as many parents have lost their jobs entirely, their families will inevitably find themselves pushed further and further into poverty. This in turn is likely to lead to a deeper economic crisis.

By way of conclusion, in 2015 we had a breakfast meeting with a senior member of the Catholic church in Gulu to explain our ideas for a new Connect Centre. He explained about the devastating effect of the rebel war in northern Uganda but advised that the after-effects, the 'knock-on effects of war can last even longer and take a very serious toll. A wise warning.

One hopes that the very same determination, hope and resilience that emerged after that dark time will again be Uganda's source of strength and direction, as the schools and economy open up once more.

Click here for the Unicef article..