Transitioning to Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Social Reconstruction and Justice in Northern Uganda

UC Berkeley Initiative for Vulnerable Populations, December 2010

58 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2010

See all articles by Phuong Pham

Phuong Pham

Tulane University

Patrick Vinck

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; University of California, Berkeley; Tulane University

Date Written: December 1, 2010


Dramatic changes have taken place in Northern Uganda since the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a notoriously brutal rebel group, withdrew its forces in 2005. The displacement camps that previously hosted up to 90 percent of the population, some for over a decade, have been dismantled and people have returned home. They are rebuilding their houses and cultivating their land. From a devastated and dangerous region with little or no economic activity, northern Uganda is beginning to revive. But recovery from decades of conflict takes time, commitment and resources. Much work remains to reach sustainable peace, to develop the economy and establish essential services. The needs and priorities of the people remain largely unknown. At the same time, the LRA has not disbanded. From its current base in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, it continues to perpetrate serious human rights violations and remains a shadow over the region.

This report presents the results of a large-scale population-based survey about peace, justice, and social reconstruction in northern Uganda intended to capture community views on matters that affect ordinary people and the recovery after twenty years of conflicts. The survey was carried out between April and May 2010 in four districts (the Acholi districts) of northern Uganda: Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader. The findings are based on a total of 2,498 interviews with adults in various locations, including home villages, resettlement sites, and former camps. They provide results that are representative of the adult population in those four districts.

Over half the population lost a household member to the two decades of conflict, and sixty-seven percent witnessed violence such as killings, beatings, and rapes. However, unlike in earlier surveys conducted by the authors, where respondents listed achieving peace as a top priority, needs have shifted as violence subsided.

People in the affected region are struggling to meet their basic needs for food, education and health care. One in three people surveyed see improving services such as health and education as necessary to build a lasting peace, and twenty eight percent mention reducing poverty. Thirty-two percent also highlight the need for more unity and reconciliation among the people of Uganda.

Highlighting the need for a national dialogue and truth-seeking process on the violence that affected northern Uganda for two decades, respondents called for more information about the conflict and why it had happened, and they wanted those responsible for the violence to be held accountable.

The results presented in “Transitioning to Peace” show the importance of a continued effort to establish security for northern Uganda and the region, and addressing cross-border security threats such as the LRA. This should include strengthening existing collaboration with the Congolese and Central African Republic governments to apprehend Joseph Kony and his commanders, say the researchers.

Keywords: Northern Uganda, Peace, Justice, Security, Transition, Recovery, Development, Reparations, Truth Seeking

Suggested Citation

Pham, Phuong and Vinck, Patrick, Transitioning to Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Social Reconstruction and Justice in Northern Uganda (December 1, 2010). UC Berkeley Initiative for Vulnerable Populations, December 2010, Available at SSRN:

Phuong Pham

Tulane University ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Patrick Vinck (Contact Author)

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

460 Stephens Hall, #2300
Berkeley, CA 94720-2300
United States

Tulane University

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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