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Gulu is located in Uganda
Country  Uganda
Region Northern Uganda
Sub-region Acholi sub-region
District Gulu District
Elevation 1,100 m (3,600 ft)
Population (2014 Census)
 • Total 152,276[1]

Gulu is a city in Northern Uganda. It is the commercial and administrative centre of Gulu District. The coordinates of Gulu Municipality are: 2°46'54.0"N 32°17'57.0"E.[2] The distance from Gulu to Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city, is approximately 340 kilometres (210 mi) by road.[3] The town is served by Gulu Airport and a railway line.


  • History 1
  • Climate 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy and education 4
  • Transport 5
    • Air 5.1
    • Rail 5.2
  • Sport 6
  • Entertainment 7
  • Landmarks 8
  • Other points of interest 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


During British colonial rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, northern Uganda was less developed than the rest of the country. The people were conscripted into the army and the police, as a source for the security.[4] Many were sent to fight in the First World War and in the Second World War.

Uganda gained independence in 1962, but this did not improve the situation for the people in the north.

Several rebel groups were formed by the end of 1986. However, these rebel groups were ex soldiers, i.e., the UNLA from the government prior to Museveni. By 1987 most of these rebels had joined Museveni's force. Then came another rebel group led by Alice "Lakwena" Auma from 1988 to 1989. The Lord's Resistance Army sprang up in the 1990s after Alice Lakwena left Uganda and went to Kenya. The LRA became increasing violent in Gulu and the surrounding communities.[5] The UPDF government army has equally been accused of brutality against the civilian population.

In 1996 the Ugandan government ordered all civilians to relocate to internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Several campaigns, such as Stop the Genocide in Northern Uganda StGiNU, demanded the immediate closure of the "concentration camps" in the north of the country. Since the spring of 2007, there has been relative peace due to international pressure calling for the Ugandan government to stop the war and to reach a peace agreement with the LRA leader Joseph Kony. Furthermore, the power of the Lord's Resistance Army to terrorize and intimidate has dramatically been reduced due to a gradual whittling away of their power. The LRA became a much less significant threat, killing 39 in 2012, and being hunted by a 2500 strong force.

In 2012 the American and Ugandan Red Cross started a plan to accurately map the city in Open Street Map. The map was created using crowd-sourced mapping traced on satellite images donated by the US government, which were then tagged (street names, businesses and facilities names added) by local volunteers. The aim of the project was to improve disaster management.[6]



Climate data for Gulu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.2
Average low °C (°F) 16.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 17
Source:, altitude: 1116m[7]


The Acholi people are the main inhabitants of the city of Gulu (80%). The majority are Christians. There are a range of spoken languages including Luo (sometimes spelled Lwo), Swahili, English and Luganda.

During the hostilities between the Uganda People's Defense Force and the Lord's Resistance Army there were many IDP camps throughout the area, where at one time, an estimated two million people lived. Effective April 2009, all IDP camps were closed and the people were allowed to return to their villages.[8] By July 2009, an estimated 1,452,000 (80.7%) IDPs out of a total of 1,840,000 had voluntarily left the camps to return home, leaving only 388,000, who are in the process of vacating or permanently settling where they are.[9][10] [11]

Before the cessation of hostilities between the UPDF and the LRA, up to 15,000 children, known as "night commuters", were fleeing into the city for safety every evening. Since the cessation of hostilities in late 2006, the numbers of "night commuters" has significantly reduced.[12]

The national census in 2002 estimated the population of the city at 119,430. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), estimated the city's population at 149,900 in 2010. In 2011, UBOS estimated the mid-year population of Gulu at 154,300.[13] On 27 August 2014, the national population census put Gulu's population at 152,276.[1]

Economy and education

Ebola outbreak in Gulu Municipal Hospital

Gulu is the economic capital of Northern Uganda. The reduced violence since the peace talks began between the Ugandan government and the rebel LRA has resulted in an economic revitalization.

Gulu is the home of Gulu University, which has a wide range of programs ranging from agriculture to medicine, business management and conflict resolution. It is one of the two public universities in Northern Uganda, the other being Muni University in Arua. Gulu University is the parent institution of Gulu University School of Medicine, one of the nine accredited medical schools in Uganda, as at February 2015. The Uganda Management Institute, a government-owned tertiary teaching and research institution in management and administration, which is headquartered in Kampala, maintains a campus in Gulu.[14]

There are three hospitals providing services to the city: St. Mary's Hospital Lacor, Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and Gulu Independent Hospital. The headquarters of Gulu District Administration is also located in the city.



The city is serviced by Gulu Airport, which has a tarmac runway that measures 10,314 feet (3,144 m). Gulu Airport is the second biggest Airport in Uganda after Entebbe International Airport.


Gulu has a station on the metre gauge railway from Tororo to Pakwach, a line that had been out of use since 1993. Rift Valley Railways funded clearing the line of vegetation and repairing structure, thus allowing the first commercial train for 20 years to run through on the metre gauge track from the Kenyan port Mombasa over Nairobi and Eldoret to Tororo and onwards to Gulu on 14 September 2013; this line is referred to officially as the "Tororo – Gulu – Pakwach Line" or simply the Rift Valley Line.[15]


The home venue for Gulu United FC is the Pece War Memorial Stadium which has a capacity for 3,000 people.[16] The stadium was built by the British in 1959 but in recent years has been vandalised and misused. The stadium used to have running water and power but these have been disconnected. The stadium hosts a series of tournaments like the Ugandan Cup, district schools sports competitions, international awareness and sports and activities among others. Gulu district and education ministry are considering repairing the stadium and tendering it out to a private firm to undertake its management.[17][18]


Gulu is the base of several radio stations including Choice FM which broadcasts daily to an estimated 5 million to 6 million listeners each evening. Other radio stations in Gulu include Jal Fresh 96.9 (Gulu's first English speaking station), Mega FM 102.1, Radio Rupiny 97.5, Radio Four 89.4, King FM 90.2, Childcare International 91.5 & 98.9, Norah Radio 92.1, UBC Radio 102.1 & 103.1, and Radio Maria 105.7 Gulu FM Favor Of God (The only evangelical Station) ADF FN.

The Taks Center in Gulu is the sole Arts and Entertainment center. The center has vast lawns and locals arrange their wedding parties and other cultural activities like Acholi dance etc. It is on Churchil Drive next to JICA office.


The landmarks within the city of Gulu or near its borders include the following:

Other points of interest

See also


  1. ^ a b UBOS, . (27 August 2014). "The Population of The Regions of the Republic of Uganda And All Cities And Towns of More Than 15,000 Inhabitants". Quoting Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Road Distance Between Kampala And Gulu With Interactive Map". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Dolan, Chris (2009). "Social Torture: The Case of Northern Uganda 1986-2006", page 42. Publisher not stated.  Retrieved 21 February 2015
  5. ^ Doom, Ruddy and Koen Vlassenroot. "Kony's Message: A New Koine? The Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda", African Affairs 1999:98(390), p.24.
  6. ^ Banick, Rob (14 August 2012). "We Start With A Good Map". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Climate: Gulu - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Moro, Justin (5 April 2009). "Gulu Closes IDP Camps".  
  9. ^ Russo, Roberta (11 September 2007). "Uganda's IDP Camps Start To Close As Peace Takes Hold".  
  10. ^ Nielsen, Kai (6 January 2012). "UNHCR Closes Chapter On Uganda's Internally Displaced People".  
  11. ^ Klein, Alice (24 January 2012). "Northern Uganda's Displaced People Are Left To Fend for Themselves".  
  12. ^ Mao, Norbert (6 April 2009). "Gulu Will Make Everyone Gape With Awe And Wonder".  
  13. ^ UBOS, . (2011). "Estimated Population of Gulu Town In 2002, 2010 & 2011" (PDF). Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  14. ^ UMI, . (2014). "About the Gulu Campus of Uganda Management Institute".  
  15. ^ RGI, . (9 October 2013). "Uganda's Northern Line Revived".  
  16. ^ UKSW, . (February 2014). "Match Schedule for Gulu United FC". (UKSW). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Correspondent, . (2 February 2014). "Gulu To Privatize Pece Stadium". Monday Times (Uganda). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Otto, Alex (22 January 2014). "Gulu District Considers Privatizing Pece Stadium". Uganda Radio Network (URN). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 

BY DENNIS OJWEE October 19, 2015 Gulu district looks for city status as the town celebrates 100 years...

GULU district looks forwards to accord a city status as the town celebrates 100 years from existence since the colonial rule. Since its inception in 1910 as a town, the town despite the long war by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has maintained a steady growth, especially its municipality.

According to a 102-year-old Rogest Auma and a 92-year-old Sabina Adyang-Nana, Gulu town started in 1910 at a place now known as Gulu-Gulu. Gulu-Gulu was a reformed named modified from a sound of flowing water from a deep valley that was sounding, gulu-gulu…golo-golo…as the water flows with under lots of pressure down the valley.

The then Secretary for works and Technical Services, Alex Otim is confident that the town has scored to a greater height in the areas of development, clean-water coverage, roads and infrastructure and Bridges among others.

Otim puts the piped water coverage at over 40% of clean water from 2007 to date compared less than five over the last 10 financial years for both district and its municipality. He explains that piped water with the municipality has been at about 20%. He expects the rate to double if the current water project between Gulu to Toci River main water source is completed by early next year.

He says at least 68% of the entire population that have gone back to their homes from the merger internally displaced persons’ camps can now consume clean water from the interventions so far made by the district.

He says so far 18 new Bridges of various standards have been built in the district to create more accessibility along various roads from town to rural places for the communities.

Otim adds reveals that over the years, a total of 1, 536 kilometers of roads, 87km within Gulu municipality have been opened and graded. Most of the roads in Gulu municipal are graded. He said 987Km were opened between. 2004 and 2007, and only 500Km of roads existed before 1980 including the current new districts of Amuru and Nwoya.

He said during the colonial period, only part of the Great North Road to Gulu town was tarmac. The Great North Road gives access to the South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Currently, Acoli sub-region comprises six other districts that are off springs of Gulu namely Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, Lamwo and Nwoya according to their birth. This excludes some others still rumored to come in the likes of Omoro according to the recent verbal promises by President Yoweri Museveni in his recent political campaign trails in Acoli-land a week ago.

According to Langlands (1974) classifications, the soil of Gulu consists of ferruginous soil with a high percentage of sandy soils and therefore susceptible to erosion. Due to its sandy nature, the soil has low water retention capacity and high rate of water infiltration.

The soils are usually deep with little differentiation into clearly defined zones and possess fine granular structure, others molded into large, weak coherent clods that are very porous. Gulu district is endowed with vast fertile soils like in Ora-Pwoyo in Odek and Adak in Lalogi and this has resulted to very high crop yield.

The heavy amount of rainfall and makes the soil fertile which makes Gulu most commonly known as the ‘Food-Basket’ for the whole Country due to the vast food crops grown and produced. The trend was only temporarily halted due to the 23-years of the LRA war in the northern region.

The vegetation of Gulu as classified by Langland in 1974 consists of intermediate savannah grassland. This type of vegetation is that found between the moist and the dry savannah.

A recent reports released by the district in three year’s development plan reveals that the district and the Acholi sub-region as a whole have been living in abject poverty with the indigenous living quite below the poverty line, especially the rural poor.

The effects and consequences of the two-decades long insurgency in the sub-region is believed to be the major cause and aggravation of poverty in Gulu District.

Mao laments that unemployment and underemployment of both human and other natural resources are reflected in high number of unproductive population many of whom had lived in the IDP camps. According to Uganda Poverty Status Report, 2003 on poverty, 64 % of the population in Northern Uganda lives below the national poverty line (that is less than a US $ 1 per day) compared to the national average of 38 percent for the country’s population. Table 1.2.6 indicates the poverty trends over the last 10 years

Threats to improve gender equity include amongst others the negative traditional beliefs and practices such as ownership of land and other properties; the low literacy level among women tends to limit women from equal participation.

Poverty is high among the female folks since women do not own resources for production, hence inferiority syndrome; armed conflict resulting into the displacement of households into IDP camps; domestic violence that is so rampant in households; bad practices in administrative decisions towards women, e.g. in award of local contracts where the potentials of women are usually doubted.

There is observed massive environmental degradation as indicated by reduced variety and Unavailability of elements in the environment. Noted seriously, is the declining soil productivity in terms of crop yield per acreage and high prevalence of crop disease.

The potential threats to the environment are due to lack of awareness resulting in poor waste management; devastation of vegetation; wetlands reclamation, e.g. sugarcane growing in wetlands; and poor and primitive farming methods; indiscriminate cutting of trees; charcoal burning; brick making; uncontrolled grazing of livestock; rapid population growth that affects natural resources consumption.

The negative trends that should be observed include low productivity brought about by desertification (climatic change), greenhouse effect (ozone layer depletion), biodiversity loss, soil erosion and contamination of water table.

The development challenges that face Gulu include inadequate access to administrative services in rural areas due to poor administrative infrastructures, difficulties in attracting and retaining staff in Local Governments and the growing burden of pension and gratuity arrears verses the declining local revenue, non-disclosure of programmes and projects by partners.

There is narrow revenue base, inadequate revenue data for tax planning, poor taxpaying culture among the community and declining donor funding into the district. Low agricultural production and productivity, low capacity to deliver effective and efficient advisory services to farmers, high incidences of diseases, pests, vectors, vermin and predators infestation which affect livestock, fish and honey production and productivity.

The attributing factors include long walking distance to the nearest schools, poor access roads; high level of poverty in the households, gender bias against girl child education; poor infrastructure and learning environment and to some extent automatic promotions under Universal Primary Education, the existing staff ceiling policy affects the teacher-pupil ratio, inadequate instructional materials and ineffective school management and poor teachers’ remunerations.

Other problems of the district includes inaccessibility to socio-economic services due to poor road condition, bottlenecks and network as other part of the district are not served with road networks, human activities- development in the road reserves, low community participation in road works, inadequate knowledge on road policies and regulations, operation and maintenance of feeder and community access roads and buildings, Inadequate safe water sources in return areas, drying up of water facilities especially of springs and shallow wells in the rural areas.

There are rampant land disputes in the district as most of the individuals returning to their homes from the IDP camps no longer have clear knowledge of their land boundaries and the Sub county courts are still incompetent to resolve such cases, and the majority of the population has wrongly understood the land laws.

There was negative attitude of the community on PWD’s and older persons, limited involvement of PWD’s in developmental issues, low awareness on the rights of PWD’s, high illiteracy level among PWDs and the challenge of putting disability and older persons policies into actions.

Other sector challenges are inadequate financing in the sector, weak coordination mechanisms and lack of a functional Management Information system, inadequate institutional capacity to deliver Social development sector services. Interest in participatory development planning has remained a big challenge at all levels over the years. This is attributed to limited public awareness on civil rights, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. There is low community participation and involvement in the planning processes.

Often, interest groups are never effectively represented during village consultations and parish participatory planning meetings. Furthermore, district development planning has been non-evidence based due to weak and lacking management information systems especially at lower local government levels.

This is attributed to limited resources for the generation and utilization of data for decision making and evidence based planning at all levels. Often, decision makings are not backed up by the available data at many management levels.

Low participation in development management and monitoring especially at community levels; community takes little interest in public investment issues, consequently the impacts of completed programmes-projects are not well documented by the user groups and other stakeholders.


External links

  • Official website
  • MSN map

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