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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation


Trauma in Northern Uganda stems from the atrocities that occurred during the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict. Because of this, thousands of victims were left traumatized by their experiences with disparities in aid to help them with their trauma. Utilizing the rural and urban areas in Kitgum and Gulu Municipality, this research seeks to understand how trauma presents itself in the Northern Uganda region and how it is defined by the population who treat it. This includes a list of disorders resulting from trauma and their symptoms. In addition, the efforts towards trauma healing and recovery are analyzed, including the different forms of treatment and how they affect the population. In this section, these forms are criticized and analyzed with their given challenges. With these challenges, the research takes an in-depth look at how trauma affects the family unit and what it means for Northern Uganda to develop a “trickling trauma” problem. Lastly, recommendations are given to try to mitigate the challenges that face trauma treatment today in Northern Uganda.

This qualitative research was conducted over the course of a month. During this time, interviews and focus groups were utilized in an attempt to better understand the topic of trauma in northern Uganda. These interviews were conducted amongst a population of NGO workers, local government, medical staff, and victims of trauma themselves. These respondents were specifically targeted for their relevance to trauma and its treatment. By snowball sampling, key informants were identified and then those key informants recommended other respondents that would aid in the researching of this topic. Each interview was recorded by taking notes and/or recorded by voice recorder with the consent of each respondent.

It was found that depression, anxiety, paranoia, and post-traumatic stress disorder were the most prevalent of the disorders that stem from trauma. Through these disorders many different demographics of people are affected and come are interconnected in the family unit. This means that a father’s PTSD may result in gender-based violence which then traumatizes both the mother and the child, thus creating a new generation of trauma that was not directly affected by the war. Efforts towards treating these disorders range from psychosocial support, counseling, and medication prescriptions, each of these come with their own criticisms and recommendations are given in order to aid in mitigating the challenges they face.


African Languages and Societies | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Family, Life Course, and Society | Mental and Social Health

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