School Dropouts for Sand-Mining in Uganda

Sand-mining is a profitable yet risky business in Uganda not only for adult men, also children are dropping out of school in shocking numbers to earn their share. Some of those kids support their families, others are orphans and make their own living through the work.

Kayunga, 74km (46miles) northeast of the capital Kampala, shows a high poverty rate. The schools in that area are now almost empty due to the high number of children dropping out.

Edward Echwalu is a renowned freelance photographer and went to Busaana, Kayunga to see for himself how the kids work and tell their story.

On the banks of river Nile in Busaana Sub-County, children usually descend in the middle of the waters, scoop the sand which they transport on the boats to the river banks from where it’s sold at between Shs150,000 (USD 57) and Shs180,000 (USD 69) depending on the size of the lorry truck, local media reports.

According to the 2011 UNESCO report, Uganda has the highest number of school dropouts in the East African region. Out of 100 pupils who join primary one in Uganda, only 25% reach primary seven while in Kenya, 84%, Tanzania 81% and Rwanda stands at 74% of those who complete primary.

Here are three of the images Edward captured when he went to Busaana visiting the kids:

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Visit Edward’s blog to view more if his images from Busaana and also other regions and photo stories from Uganda at

Recent media coverage on this issue:

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