arua 350x230History

Before 1912, the whole region west of the Nile River, of which Arua was the headquarters, stretching from the River Nile westwards to Bunia in the current Democratic Republic of Congo and Northwards to Yei in the current South Sudan was referred to as “LADO ENCLAVE”. While the Berlin conference awarded the region to King Leopold the II of Belgium as a reward for hunting elephants, the administrative cost become burdensome as the British interest to control the River Nile increased.

In 1914, the colonial government transferred the southern part of the former Lado enclave from the Anglo-Egyptian ruled Sudan condominium to Uganda. In the same year the colonial administration conferred township on the current Arua municipality and made it the centre of administration for the new district. Weatherhead was the first British colonial district commissioner of West Nile sitting in Arua with Rwot Jalusiga, the Alur King as the political leader.

The district gained its name from Arua town after a declaration by former President Lukongwa Binayisa that all former provinces acquire names from their regional capitals.

Geographical Location

The district is strategically located at the vanguard of two countries namely, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. Arua District lies in the North Western Conner of Uganda between latitude 20 30’N and 30 50’N and longitude 300 30’E and 310 30’E. It is bordered by Maracha District to the North West; Yumbe District to the North East; Democratic Republic of Congo to the West; Nebbi district to the South; and Gulu District to the East. Arua is 1,211 meters above sea level.


Arua district comprises mainly of rolling plains rising from the Nile floor in the rift valley (600m above sea level) to the Zaire – Nile water divide (1200 to 1400 meters above sea level). Arua’s landscape can generally be grouped into three topographical zones: Western Highlands, Rift Valley and Geomophology.

Economic Activities

Arua is strategically located as a hub connecting other districts of West Nile, Southern Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. Like many districts in Uganda, the economy of Arua depends mainly on agriculture which employs over 87.7% of the households. Of those employed in agriculture, 86.2% are engaged in the crop sector, 0.6% in Animal rearing, 0.9% in fishing. According to the 2014 census only 3.6% of the households earned their livelihoods from formal employment. The remaining proportion of the households of approximately1.8% are engaged in cottage industry and yet a smaller portion depends on family support and other miscellaneous activities.


According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics figures the district had a total population of 782,077 in 2014 with a projected population of 862,700 in 2018 of which 52.1% are female.

Land Mass

Arua town, the Administrative and commercial headquarters of the district is 520 kilometres away from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The district covers a total area of 4,274.13 Km2, 87% of which is arable land.

Religious Composition

The district has a diverse religious composition. 55.2 per cent of Arua Municipality residents are Muslims, 23.4 per cent are Catholics, 19.4 per cent Anglicans, and other religious organizations share much smaller percentages. But in the other counties of the district, its the Catholics who are dominant followed by the Anglicans.


Arua is characterized by a high ethnic diversity. The Lugbara in particular are the major native tribe, constituting 81 percent of the population enumerated in Arua district as per 2002 census. The 1995 Ugandan Constitution grants the traditional and Cultural institutions power to unite and so the Lugbara Cultural institution (Lugbara Kari) was born. Other significant ethnic groups in Arua include the Kakwa and the Madi. Non Ugandans, especially the Sudanese, Congolese, Arabs and Indians among others also peacefully co-exit with Arua residents providing a thriving mix of cultures reflective of Arua’s emerging city status.

Landmarks Historical Sites

Ajai game Reserve-42km, East of Arua town and 6 hours drive from Kampala. Rhino-Camp ginnery and the beautiful view of River Nile.

Current District Leadership

  • Mr SamWadri Nyakua – Chairman district Council
  • Mr Isamail Ochegel – Chief Administrative Officer
  • Mr Onduma Solaiman – Speaker Arua District Council
  • Hajj Issa Kato – Mayor Arua Municipality

Notable Personalities

  • Rt Rev Joel Obetia – Bishop Emeritus of Madi and West Nile Diocese
  • Ambassador Harold Acemah – Former Ugandan Envoy
  • Mr Ibrahim Abiriga – Member of Parliament Arua municipality
  • Mr Bernard Atiku – Member of Parliament-Ayivu County
  • Mr Mario Obiga Kania – Member of Parliament-Terego East County
  • Mr Moses Angundru – Member of Parliament Terego West
  • Mr Ismail Ogama – Member of Parliament Lower Madi County
  • Ms Maureen Osoru – Woman Member of Parliament-Arua
  • Mr Isaac Etuka – Member of Parliament Upper Madi
  • Dr Gabriel Aridru – Member Parliament- Vurra County
  • Mr. Caleb Alaka – Legal Counsel, Defence Attorney
  • Mr Dick Nyai – Opinion Leader and former Ayivu County Member of Parliament
  • Late Bada Nyanya – Former Member of Parliament
  • Late Emeritus Bishop Fredrick Drandua of Arua Diocese
  • Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri Togboa – University Don, Educationist and Specialist in Electronic Engineering
  • Prof. Christine Dranzoa – Vice chancellor Muni University
  • Dr. Eric T. S. Adriko – Engineer, industrialist, former Cabinet minister, current Chancellor Muni University,
  • Justice Augustine Kania – Retired High Court Judge
  • The late Darlington Adutia – Educationist
  • Mr James Nyakuni – Businessman
  • The late Hercules Abiriga – Educationist
  • Mr Kennedy Madira – Artist
  • Mr Gaspero Odaa – Former member of the Legislative Council of Uganda
  • Late Haruna Ndema – Chief minister of the Lugbara Kari
  • Mr Jason Avutia – Head of Lugbara Cultural Institution
  • The late Rt Rev Caleb Mawa Nguma – Former Bishop Madi & West Nile Diocese
  • The late Rt Rev Bishop Adrale – Former Bishop Madi & West Nile Diocese
  • Late Innocent Nyakuta – Artist
  • Dr Godfrey Alia – Renowned Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Mr Tabu Butagira – Journalist
  • Mr Simon Avutia – Banking Executive
  • Mr Michael Oluma – Businessman
  • The late Andruale Awuzu – Engineer, politician, Uganda Government Minister
  • Mr Mohamed Abdurrahman – Businessman and Transporter
  • Ms Betty Adima – Retired Educationist and farmer
  • Mr. Anthony Butele – Elder statesman, former Member of Pariament and Uganda Government Minister
  • Mr. Mike Agondua – The Ayiru Cultural Leader "The Agafe"

Arua District at a Glance

Total population is 862,700 people (UBOS Population Projections Report 2015 – 2020).

  • 52.1% of the total population are females
  • 27.7% of the households are female headed
  • Female widowhood stands at 37.6%
  • 7.1% of children aged 10 – 17 years are in child marriages
  • 8.5% of children aged 0 – 17 years are orphaned
  • Literacy rate stands at 84.7%
  • 46.3% of the households get information from radio
  • 32.6% of the households get information by word of mouth
  • 39.5% own a bicycle

Source: Uganda National Population and Housing Census (NP&HC), 2014

View the beautiful sites of Arua