Wednesday, 30 April 2014


With the aim to address gender inequality, increase access to quality education and, retention for girls and other vulnerable children in 12 Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools of Dokolo District. Youth Social Work Association (YSA) with support from Independent Development Fund (IDF) embarked on mobilizing and sensitising different stakeholders in Dokolo to stimulate interest for girl child education. This initiative empowered individuals and communities to take on government institutions such as school management committees, police and other duty bearers to create a favourable study environment for the girl child and other vulnerable groups to access quality education.
Key activities carried out were community dialogues with concerned duty bearers radio talk shows, conducting child rights club sessions and the distribution of re-usable sanitary pads. These challenged the different players and actors in the education sector to actively take part in creating a favourable study environment for girls and other vulnerable children. Several achievements have been realised from the above interventions as will be seen below; YSA attributes them to the use of the Human Rights Based Approach and the involvement of various stakeholders. 

The distribution of 2,121 re-usable sanitary pads greatly improved the attendance of the 2,121 girls who benefited from the exercise. It reduced cases of absenteeism, drop outs and other related challenges. Previously menstruating girls would averagely miss 1-3 days of school per month, which translates into a loss of 8 to 24 school days per year. There are averagely 220 learning days in a year therefore, missing 24 days a year translates into 11% of the time a girl pupil will miss learning due to menstrual periods. The girls are grateful for the support extended to them; “our stay and safety in school during the menstrual periods has become better compared to the past days where one had to either absent herself or escape whenever they experienced their cycle” revealed a group of girls in Dokolo district. 

Reduced teacher absenteeism and late coming. This was made possible through the erection of 40 semi-permanent houses for the 40 teachers that had been trekking long distances to and from their schools. With the erection of 40 houses, the number of teachers residing within the school premises increased from 92 to 142 teachers. This has in turn contributed to improved performance in these schools as reflected in the 2012 and 2013 PLE results where Kwera and Adwoki primary schools got their first grades since the schools came into existence.
Through involvement of various stakeholders like the Dokolo district department, 11 children with disability were identified and supported with hearing aids. Other critically vulnerable children with disability have also been referred to study at the disability study centre at Angwechi-bangi in Dokolo Town Council.
Another successful intervention that has helped in realizing the project results was training school management committees (SMC) on their roles and responbilities; this was aimed at addressing their inadequate performance. Reports from the training indicate that their capacities to perform have been enhanced, for example the SMC of Adwila Modern Primary school was able to convince parents to contribute money to buy school land also adapt a resolution to compulsorily provide mid day meals for all pupils as a measure to reduce pupil absenteeism/escape from school and increase concentration in class. 
Lastly, is the development of a collective spirit of responsiveness and participation by the stakeholders. This has contributed to improved monitoring, administration and management within the schools.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Since 2010 Manafwa district has been faced with landslides that have continuously caused massive destruction of the environment, loss of lives and property. Environmental analysts have attributed this to a number of factors like poor methods of farming, deforestation, excessive rain which make the soils weak that it develops cracks for water to easily percolate through.
Empowered with knowledge and skills on environmental rights advocacy and the rights based approach to environmental Management by Uganda Muslim Rural Development Association (UMURDA), Ms. Namutosi Noreen embarked on two tasks to address this historical environmental challenge; sensitizing the communities in Bukusu Sub County where she is attached on their rights to a clean and healthy environment and how they can engage with duty bearers to demand for this safe and clean environment. From the several community sensitization meetings conducted at parish level, Noreen successfully created community awareness on their right to a safe and clean environment and on environmental Management. This was evidenced in the Communities’ ability to approach their respective parish councillors, tasking them to push the sub county council to provide them with tree seedlings for planting. “We need to fill this bare land with green cover to reduce the risks of landslides and save our own lives and property now that we have been educated on our right to life and environmental management” asserted a community member. 
Namutosi also engaged the sub county leadership of Bukusu Sub County on environmental rights and protection. She held various discussions about the same with the sub county environment committee, Sub County Chief and Community Development Officer (CDO). This compelled the Council and sub county authorities to lobby Manafwa District Local Government to provide seedlings to the community. In response the sub county distributed 2700 tree seedlings to several institutions and community members for planting; 8 Primary schools, 1 Secondary school, 2 Mosques, and 3 Churches received 150 seedlings each and about 30 community members also received 20 seedlings each for planting.
Noreen inspecting the tree seedlings
In another development, Ms Namutosi Noreen identified community environment concerns and shared them with the Bukusu CDO and Sub County Chief and advocated for the inclusion of these concerns into the Sub County Development Plan and Budget for FY 2012/13. Concerns were integrated into the Sub County Development Plan and Budget for FY 2012/13 and implemented. All these efforts have increased the level of awareness on the fundamental citizenry rights to a clean and healthy environment and also ushered in a new era of an empowered-informed and vigilant community able to demand for their entitlements and take charge of their lives and environment.
This action by Namutosi Noreen of UMURDA has also attracted and strengthened collaboration with strategic partners to the benefit of Busuku Sub County. For example ECO-TRUST one of UMURDA’s development partners came in to train the community members on tree planting. It also distributed seedlings and pesticides for spraying on the reportedly affected seedlings. The pesticides were handed to the sub county environment committee which worked with the community and ECO TRUST to spray the affected trees planted by the district on Mukoma hill. 
Noreen, ECO TRUST&community members planting tree seedlings
With more trees planted and more people on board supporting environmental management, coupled with increased community awareness and vigilance to protect and manage the environment, the risks of very dangerous and destructive landslides are lessening by the day and hope is being restored to the formerly degraded environment and hopeless people of Manafwa District, Busuku Sub County. It should be noted that similar successful efforts have been undertaken by other human rights activists in the sub counties of Butta and Mikoto all in Manafwa District.
UMURDA is an Independent development Fund- IDF grantee implementing a Rights Based Approach project in the land slide prone districts of Bududa and Manafwa. The project aimed at building the capacity of rights holders to engage the duty bearers so as to improve service delivery in their respective areas with the hope of realizing an improvement in governance and service delivery through e involving communities in the planning process of the Local Government at all levels and a number of community issues included in the development plans and budgets respectively for implementation.


One of the major hindrances to the enjoyment of human rights among the people of Rukungiri is lack of awareness of their rights. The poverty and illiteracy levels among the women especially, limits them from accessing relevant information on their right to reproductive health and access to quality reproductive health services. But after Rukungiri Gender and Development Association’s (RUGADA) two years intervention into the appalling situation, the above limitations are becoming but a thing of the past and the community
testifies to it; one Irene Muhangi of Nyakangyeme HC III, Nykangyeme Sub County, Rukungiri district notes “We have seen an increase in the number of women delivering at the Health Centre. Before they used to deliver from home and get complications. Some of the complications were so severe and enormous for us to treat. I thank the project for educating the women on their rights to reproductive health and how they can access quality reproductive health services”.  
Under its IDF funded project “Promoting respect for reproductive health rights for socially deprived women in Rukungiri”, RUGADA implemented a number of empowerment measures like training of volunteers, conducting community meetings and workshops, radio programs, production of advocacy materials that aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness on reproductive health including sexual and gender-based violence, particularly among pregnant women. In its action RUGADA emphasized broadening the scope of home-based lifesaving skills at the community level. Such measures ensured that individuals and communities could actively participate in improving their health. The project also enhanced the involvement of men in awareness rising about reproductive health rights for women. 
Among others, a tremendous increase in the number of pregnant mothers accessing antenatal services was registered from 32.2% to 46% in 2011-2013(LQAS2011-2013). And this indirectly saved the lives of mothers and babies by promoting and establishing good health before childbirth and the early postnatal period – the time periods of highest risk. Secondly, today health programs have been designed/mandated to serve the needs not only of married women, but unmarried women of all ages. And lastly yet important, is that, there has been a formal recognition that more equitable relations between men, women and reproductive rights are important ends in themselves. Involving men has been a prominent part of the shift from family planning to the broader reproductive health agenda.
The community-based implementation model and radio programs used in helped in creating massive awareness on reproductive health rights; while the community-Based volunteers (CBVs), travelling from village-to-village explaining to rural women the benefits of using Health Centres for delivery and utilizing all the other health services proved to be an essential tool for the project’s success.
One the whole, the project greatly enhanced women’s understanding of their rights to reproductive health and consequently contributed to better health among women and children in Rukungiri district.

Monday, 28 April 2014


Faced with several women and children rights challenges like forced early marriages, child neglect and desertion, property/land grabbing, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), coupled with ignorance on how to address them, the women and children in Buhweju district had lost hope to life until Community Awareness and Response on AIDS (CARA) a Non Government Organization focused on creating a Uganda free from HIV/AIDS and poverty intervened.
To address the above challenges CARA with support from Independent development Fund (IDF) employed different strategies to empower the community with the ability to manage and solve their own problems through its project Promoting the rights of women and children for HIV Prevention in Buhweju district”. Specifically CARA strengthened institutional capacities at local and district levels to enhance promotion of women and children’s rights in the district. This was done through training paralegals (human rights activists) and orienting local council leaders about their roles and responsibilities in the promotion of women and children’s rights. In total, CARA trained 120 adults as Human Rights Activists, 140 Children Peer educators and oriented 120 local council leaders.
Graph showing the trend in reporting of cases on violence against women

The Human rights activists and peer educators were charged with identifying, handling, reporting and following up on cases of defilement, child labour, child neglect, wife battery, rape, land grabbing, assault, failure to take children to school, denial of widows and orphans to inherit property left behind for them, to mention but a few.
During the trainings,  channels of reporting cases were emphasized, and, by the end of the project  there was an increase in the number of cases reported on human right violations; at least 80% of the community members and the children had known where, how and when to report what conflict.
A survey baseline report at CARA indicates that at the beginning of the project in 2011 only 10 cases of women rights violations were reported quarterly and that by 2012 the number of reported cases had shot to at least 50 cases. By end of 2011 itself, reports indicated 102 cases reported at CARA office, 59 referred to different authorities that included the police, Community Development Offices, and probation and welfare offices.
In a nutshell the project achieved its intended objectives and created positive impact; through the capacity building activities conducted, improved knowledge and skills of communities especially the trained peer educators and local leaders in handling human rights violation cases and increased awareness and dissemination of Human Rights messages among women, men and children was registered, for example; the project had targeted to reach 33,460 people with HR and HIV prevention messages, but by the end of the project, 103,525 people had been reached. The utilization of these messages is seen to have led to increased reporting and action on these cases. Consequently the number of GBV and child abuse cases reduced significantly as illustrated in trend analysis above. This suggests that respect, fulfillment and observance of children and women’s rights increased. As a result, the beneficiaries are living in peace and harmony and their quality of life has improved significantly.
Lesson Learned:
Women’s enthusiasm to learn and to cause positive change should never be underestimated. They should always be involved and empowered with the right information to change their situations.