When we first visited Uganda, children in Masese II, a slum just outside Jinja, were at risk of malnutrition, abuse and child sacrifice. Brewing and distilling alcohol in dangerous and unlicensed breweries was the area's primary economic activity and conditions in the slum were appalling. Children were being exposed to extreme hazards around the brewing areas and were even fed the dregs of the alcohol mix.
With no place to go throughout the day, children were extremely vulnerable. Child abuse was common and continual exposure to inebriated men and prostitution left children at greater risk of abuse and HIV.
Child sacrifice was a growing issue in the Masese II community, and children left unattended throughout the day, or wandering any distance from home, were at risk. With no productive livelihoods, no access to education or healthcare, widespread malnutrition and no safe place to play and simply enjoy being children, there was little hope for the children who live here.
Through establishing a Child and Community Centre together with the Adolescent Development Support Network (ADSN), we provided early years education for children under 5 and educational support for children of primary school age. This Centre also provided nutritious meals in order to reduce child malnutrition and improve health.
A Child Protection Team (CPT) mobilised local people to care for their children more effectively and receive support and advice on parenting, health, nutrition and preventing abuse. The area is now cleaner, child abuse has lessened and incidents of child sacrifice have been eradicated for over 3 years.
Vulnerable households began to meet their own needs through the agricultural component of the project. This included micro-finance schemes, comprehensive agricultural training, land and inputs. With this alternative to providing income and sourcing nutritious food, 9 out of the 14 breweries have now closed down.
After the success of this pilot project we maintain support of the Child Protection Team here and have passed on the management of other elements of the project to local partners.
The Masese II Child Protection Team are instrumental in helping us train up new teams as we replicate this work in the wider district. We are currently focussing on the neighbouring communities of Loco, Masese I, and Masese III.