Client(s): Oak Foundation, Private Donor(s)
Services: Capacity Building, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research
Expertise: Life Skills Training, Microfinance and Livelihoods Development, Sustainable Agriculture/Food Security, Youth, Basic Education for Children and Adults, Child Labor and Trafficking Prevention, Civil Society Development, Girls' and Women's Education, HIV and AIDS
Children and adolescents in western Uganda face many threats to their well-being, safety, and development, including a high incidence of forced marriage for girls, harmful labor practices, high rates of school drop out, child abuse, sexual abuse, and economic insecurity. Without proper nutrition, healthcare, education, psychosocial support, and legal protection, these children are unlikely to develop into healthy, productive adults.
For the last 10 years, the Bantwana Initiative of World Education, Inc. (WEI/B) has been working in schools and communities in four under-served districts in western Uganda. As WEI/B has built the trust of community members and expanded its reach in schools, the Western Uganda Bantwana Program (WUBP) has honed in on tackling the social norms and conditions at home and in schools that lead to violence against children.
Now in its fourth phase, WUBP is focused on strengthening the prevention of and response to violence against children in schools and communities. WUBP currently works with 20 schools and their surrounding communities using tested, evidence-based approaches:
- Leading Child Rights Clubs and Girl Talk Sessions with boys and girls in schools to teach youth about their rights, build self-confidence and leadership skills, practice strategies for mitigating risk, and to learn how to report violence and abuse.
- Supporting teachers by creating safe spaces for reporting violence, and offer a Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response Training to teachers and social protection actors in local government.
- Leading savings groups with parents and caregivers at the community level become an important entry point to teach parenting skills and open dialogues about gender roles, child marriage, and how to protect their children from violence and sexual assault.
- Reaching communities through child-led radio programming designed to spark discussion around sexual violence, teen pregnancy and early marriage.
A social norms-based approach: focus group discussions with students, teachers, families, and other community members revealed that culturally-bound themes of blame, gender roles and power dynamics contribute to sexual violence against children. To address this, WUBP also with a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to design and incorporate social norms change approaches into the project's interventions.
From the project's inception, WUBP's support in western Uganda has been comprehensive: Beginning in 2008, WUBP built the capacity of nine community-based partners in the four under-served districts of Kyenjojo, Kasese, Kabarole, and Kyegegwa to provide an integrated package of child protection, livelihoods, and psychosocial support (PSS). Evidence from case studies and evaluations has reinforced the efficacy of the project's approach, which has included:
- Equipping children with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves from abuse and neglect--building self-confidence and empowerment through Child Rights Clubs in schools.
- Mobilizing schools (working in 55 schools across the four districts), communities, government officials, and others responsible for protecting children to act on their behalf.
- Leading a campaign to educate teachers about the dangers of corporal punishment.
- Working with community volunteers, enabling them to develop skills to help families address critical needs--and link those families into a case management system.
- Establishing savings groups to support families and expand their assets through a range of economic interventions.