Child and Household Social-Economic Vulnerability: Determinants Transition from Moderate and Critical Vulnerability Levels in Rural Uganda


The study aimed to determine the factors that affect transition from moderate and critical levels of vulnerability to improved vulnerability status. The central argument of this paper is that individual and household characteristics differ and therefore the effect of programmatic interventions on vulnerability also differs. The assessment is based on a pre and post study of a cohort of 17,484 vulnerable households from 35 districts in rural Uganda. Vulnerability transition was studied at two levels; (i) any improvement of the vulnerability score and (ii) improvement from critical level of vulnerability. The factors associated with transition from any level of vulnerability were; region, disability of the child, parenthood status, household size, age of the parent/guardian as well as participation in the activities namely; economic strengthening, child protection and access to legal services and family strengthening (p < 0.05). Similarly, the factors associated with transition from critical vulnerability were; region, disability of child, parenthood status, household size, as well as participation in the activities namely economic strengthening, child protection and legal services and family strengthening (p < 0.05). In conclusion, whereas interventions like economic strengthening, family strengthening, child protection, and food security and nutrition were associated with improved vulnerability, the characteristics of the individuals and the surrounding household characteristics play a critical role in transition from vulnerability. We conclude that interventions alone are not enough to support transition from vulnerability, but rather it is a combination and an interplay of different influences including individual and household characteristics. There is no ‘one size fits them all’ solution to child vulnerability improvement. This study highlights the need to strive for solutions that recognize the unique characteristics, needs and diversity among different vulnerable populations.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    The target districts for SCORE are Amuru, Nwoya, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Lira, Alebtong, Otuke, Luwero, Wakiso, Bugiri, Namayingo, Iganga, Luuka, Kamuli, Buyende, Mayuge, Bududa, Busia, Butaleja, Sironko, Bulambuli, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Mitooma, Rubirizi, Sheema, Isingiro, Ntugamo, Rukungiri, Kampala, Mukono, Buikwe, Buvuma and Budaka


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This study is based on administrative data collected through the USAID-Sustainable Comprehensive Response for Vulnerable Children and their families in Uganda, funded by USAID (Cooperative Agreement no. AID-617-A-11-00001).

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Correspondence to Patrick Walugembe.

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Walugembe, P., Wamala, R., Misinde, C. et al. Child and Household Social-Economic Vulnerability: Determinants Transition from Moderate and Critical Vulnerability Levels in Rural Uganda. Childhood Vulnerability 2, 29–50 (2019).

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  • Child
  • Household vulnerability
  • Transition
  • Determinants