After the end of the Second World War, the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS), was created to aid those affected by serious disasters, which were becoming more and more frequent. SAWS was incorporated in Maryland, USA on November 13, 1956. To reflect the Church’s worldwide involvement, the name Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service was changed to Seventh-day Adventist World Service in 1973.

As crisis situations became more and more serious, relief and development efforts increased and SAWS itself developed into a new organization called ADRA, Adventist Development and Relief Agency. This is now the official and separately registered international development and relief agency of the SDA Church. The name change from SAWS to ADRA occurred in the early 1980s, to more fully reflect the nature of work that is being carried out.

In Uganda ADRA was registered as a Non-Governmental Organisation locally on 24th July 1986.