Over the last few years we have been scaling up our original Child Protection Team model in Uganda, which started with Masese II slum seeing a transformation in their community and has now been replicated in Masese I, Masese III and Loco.
These Child Protection Teams (CPTs) empower their community to build a protective environment for their children. They address child protection issues, including trafficking, child abuse and child sacrifice. Through community workshops and by working closely with families, the CPTs counsel, train and sensitise their own community, with positive results.
A recent external evaluation of our CPT model identified how the teams have built relationships, identified problem areas and created links between the slum communities and local authorities and services. They have seen improved sanitation, hygiene and nutrition both in the community and individual homes.
There has been also been a positive change in parents’ care and provision for children along with reduced cases of domestic and gender based violence and a reduction in child maltreatment. One parent in Masese I commented “That project has really helped a lot in addressing violence against children and domestic violence. People are now aware and violence in homes has really reduced”.
The evaluation identified improved access to pre-primary education and an increase in primary school enrolment within the communities. A CPT member in Masese III described how “Before COTE Africa, many children couldn’t sleep in their homes, others were involved in the collection of scraps, but now I can assure you every child sleeps at home and goes to school the next morning”.
Child Rights Club in Uganda
The CPTs have not only improved community knowledge and awareness about children’s rights, but begun to give children a voice. Loco ‘Child Rights Club’ is a new initiative that is already bringing change.
Just this month, children from the club identified a child who wasn’t attending school. They voiced their concern with the teachers who visited the girl’s father, discovering that although his work was bringing in enough to feed his children, he could not afford the costs of school.
The children then met with the CPT and staff from the school. The headteacher was so moved by their actions that she waived the costs for this girl. She was incredibly impressed with the children’s understanding of having ‘the right to education’ and the way they stood up for their friend.
Another way the CPTs are enabling access to education is through the provision of small business loans. This year the scheme has expanded, and 121 ‘education loans’ have enabled parents to develop small businesses to provide for their children and pay education costs. 109 children are now able to go to school as a result.
In Loco the ECD Centre we support has enabled 60 of the most vulnerable children to gain early years education, in a safe, colourful, fun space. They have just celebrated their annual ‘graduation’ and are enjoying a brand new playground which has recently been built in the grounds of the Centre.
Following this year’s success, through 2018 we are looking to replicate this work to Katooke slum near Kampala, and begin to train further districts in Eastern Uganda to utilise the Child Protection Team model.
We will also be establishing a new CPT in neighbouring Wandago slum. A recent needs assessment here identified a high number of abuse and rape cases and also showed very recent incidents of abduction and child sacrifice. This practice that had been prevalent in Masese II slum before the work of the CPT, and the model specifically works to address it.