‘She told me that life here is so easy’: Urban migration of Acholi youth, Uganda

Elizabeth Stites, Teddy Atim and Ayee Flora Tracy

Type: Briefing Paper, Uganda

Organisation: FIC

Date: 19/10/2018

Full summary

This briefing note presents findings on migration of Acholi youth (ages 15 to 35 years) to the urban areas of Gulu and Pabbo in northern Uganda and to Acholi Quarter neighborhood in Kampala, the capital city in the southern part of the country. The qualitative data consists of 112 semi-structured, open-ended interviews with men and women in the selected locations. These interviews took place between March and May 2018. These findings are complemented by analysis from the quantitative SLRC, Uganda survey that occurred in three waves in 2013, 2015, and 2018. The quantitative survey is representative of all households in Acholi and Lango sub regions of northern Uganda, and hence primarily providing data from rural households. The Acholi and Lango sub-regions are the two sub-regions most affected by the armed conflict between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and home to more than 3.5 million people.


Key messages:

  1. Acholi youth migrate into urban areas for three primary reasons: the lack of economic options in rural areas, inadequate land access, and family disputes.
  2. Female migrants cited family disputes, being pushed off land, and physical and sexual abuse as reasons for migrating, in addition to economic pull factors.
  3. Migrants have strong economic, livelihood, and social and emotional ties to their rural places of origin. Those who did not— mostly women—were among the most vulnerable.


The briefing summaries the findings from a longer working paper, published in March 2019. Download the report here.