16 January 2019

Children exploited for profit by UK-funded orphanages in Uganda, BBC documentary reveals

The abuse and exploitation of children in Ugandan orphanages that are supported by donors in the UK is exposed in a BBC radio documentary, broadcast on January 15.

The Orphanage Business” is the latest edition of BBC Radio 4’s flagship investigative series, File on Four.

The programme reports from orphanages in Uganda where, in the worst cases, children are neglected, abused and exploited for profit by staff and tourists.

Uganda has seen massive growth in the number of so-called orphanages providing homes to children even though the number of children without parental care has actually fallen.

Interviewed for the programme, Hope and Homes for Children’s CEO, Mark Waddington explained how donations made in good faith can lead to children being treated as commodities.

“It’s almost like accessing a global market where tourists and links to churches provide a chain and pathway through where funds can be generated and donated to support these orphanages”, Mark says.

Worldwide it’s estimated that at least 80% of children now living in orphanages have at least one living parent but they are forced into institutions because of poverty, disability and discrimination.

“Professional childfinders are actually recruited by some of these orphanage businesses to go into villages and persuade parents  to give up their children and of course these families are very vulnerable. They are living in significant poverty”, Mark Waddington told BBC listeners.

Most of the hundreds of orphanages operating in Uganda today are illegal and unregistered and their owners are fighting the Uganda Government’s attempts to close them down in favour of family based-care for children.

Dozens of the orphanages on the closure list are funded by charities and church groups based in the UK.

With widespread concerns about abuse, trafficking and exploitation of children growing up in orphanages, the programme asks whether funders in the UK are doing enough to make sure their donations aren’t doing more harm than good?

Hope and Homes for Children is working in Uganda with our partner organisation, Child’s i Foundation, to close orphanages and establish safe, sustainable, family-based alternative care for children.

To listen to the documentary, follow this link.