Northern Uganda (NU) has experienced over four decades of perennial crises starting from the dictatorship of Idi Amin Dada to the notorious foray of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) led by Kony. Although the peace prospect in NU has improved, the aftermath of four decades of conflicts have severely devastated the humanitarian and economic progress. Countless lives were lost, livelihood and social structure gone, infrastructure destroyed, poor healthcare system and facilities, sporadic education with no proper schooling infrastructures and resources.

It should be noted that while NU was going through the internal conflicts, other parts of Uganda, especially southern part, made progress on the main development indicators. Like many marginalised communities around the world, Acholi people do not fit the scope or criteria to attract support from international development and advocacy organisations, mainly because Uganda as a country is considered as a developing economy. However, this development is not reflected in NU. It is worrying to know that children between the ages of 5-15 in NU in 2021 lack access to basic education and health. And those who can attend local schools have no basic resources such as stationery, learning materials, chairs, tables, classrooms, and playgrounds. Most classes are conducted under trees, especially in the regional rural areas. The ratio of teachers to students in NU’s schools is 1:100. The poverty in NU is so severe that children are still going to school without food for several days. Children in NU are dying from treatable diseases like malaria, kwashiorkor, typhoid, diarrhoea, and tuberculosis. Nodding syndrome (NS) appeared in NU in 2001 after it was first discovered in Tanzania in 1960. The NS epidemic in this region has been reported to be directly associated with the 4 decades of conflict, food insecurity, and the outbreak of onchocerciasis. Due to the poor healthcare system in NU, it has been exceedingly difficult to combat NS and other treatable diseases mentioned above. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the current healthcare system to prevent further early childhood death.

Northern Uganda presents a raw opportunity for International Development Agencies to work collaboratively with the local communities to build community resilience and stimulate sustainable economic development. An ongoing pilot study indicates that establishing sustainable development programs among the local communities will improve the healthcare system and education for the children. However, it will require a long-term funding structure that involves collaboration with many actors, and active engagement and participation of the local communities. Acholi Resilience is on the forefront advocating and supporting the Victims of Nodding Syndrome using a successful ongoing pilot study in three subcounties in Kitgum district, which is heavily affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases, Nodding Syndrome, Malaria and HIV/AIDs and the COVID19 pandemic.

Acholi Resilience is a non-for-profit organisation registered with the Australian Charity Not-for profit Commission (ACNC). Acholi Resilience believes that Acholi people themselves are the agents of change and actors of their own development. The current pilot study includes a trial of a novel model of health care system that incorporates integrated case management and a Virtual Ward Concept. Improving the learning environment and quality of education as well as capacity building initiatives were also identified as a mean to empower the families affected by Nodding Syndrome.