Protecting Children in Uganda: Replicating our Child Protection Team Model into Three New Communities
Children on the Edge work with slum communities in the suburbs of Jinja, Uganda, where children are at risk of abuse, trafficking, neglect and in extreme cases, child sacrifice. Since 2012 we have been working to make communities safer and eradicate the practice of child sacrifice, along with campaigning for a change in the law in Uganda to protect children from this awful crime.
Our work has been so transformative that we are now working to expand into new communities in Uganda to tackle child rights abuses and ensure vulnerable children are better protected and able to thrive. We have already started work with one new community, Mafubira, and want to replicate this successful model in three further communities (Busia, Karamoja and Namataala). Find out more and how you can help below.
Child sacrifice emerged as a horrifying form of child abuse in Uganda and over the past decade, the media has been awash with stories covering the gruesome ritualised mutilation or murder of young children. When we started working with the people living in Masese II, a small slum community on the outskirts of Jinja in eastern Uganda in 2012, children were particularly at risk of this brutal crime.
To protect the children living here, we created a ‘Child Protection Team’ model in July 2012.
Child Protection Teams are made up of local volunteers, men and women, elected by their communities. They serve as a voice for the children and are trained and supported to uphold their rights and tackle child abuse and neglect. Most importantly, they provide a permanent presence on the ground to keep children safe.
The original pilot scheme in Masese II effectively eradicated child sacrifice incidents and marked a major positive turn around in the way the local population viewed and handled issues regarding child rights.
Whilst having great success keeping children safe and vastly decreasing abductions in many areas surrounding Jinja at a grassroots level with the Child Protection Team Model, we also recognised the need to work on creating a protective environment for Ugandan children at the national level and campaign for a change in legislation.
For the past five years, Children on the Edge have been at the forefront of a successful campaign to change the law and introduce new legislation to curb rampant cases of human sacrifice in Uganda. On the 4th of May 2021, the Ugandan Parliament made the momentous decision to pass The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill 2020 which was officially signed into law on the 14th July 2021 by the President as the The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Act 2021. Read about how a Bill becomes law in Uganda.
Communities now have the backing of the law to protect their children.
Child Protection Teams have been replicated in a further four slum communities surrounding Jinja (Masese I, & III, Loco and Wandago) and these five communities have been transformed and are now significantly safer for children and their families. In 2021 we began piloting an expansion programme in a new community, Mafubira just north of Jinja.
The Children on the Edge Africa team has begun to train and empower a new Child Protection Team of eight community members in Mafubira who will work alongside the community to create a safer environment where their children can realise their rights and thrive.
HELP US TO SUPPORT THREE NEW COMMUNITIES
We want to replicate the Child Protection Team model in three new communities where children are in need of better protection in Uganda (Busia, Karamoja and Namataala). Three new Child Protection Teams will tackle child rights abuses and ensure vulnerable children in these communities are better protected and able to thrive.
£41 could cover the cost of a training workshop for new Child Protection Team members in Busia, Karamoja or Namataala.
HOW DO CHILD PROTECTION TEAMS WORK?
The Teams are made up of local volunteers, men and women, elected by their communities, who understand the problems that need to be tackled. They serve as a voice for the children and are trained and supported to uphold their rights and tackle child abuse and neglect.
They receive training from our staff and other professionals, like the police, medical practitioners and human rights experts on child rights, basic community health and record keeping.
The Teams work with the community by delivering workshops and making home visits to change mindsets and culture. Families learn how to care for their children and make their homes safer, so we see domestic violence and abuse decrease and a reduction in alcohol dependency.
In Masese II, the Child Protection Team helped to eradicate unlicensed breweries; places that were not only physically dangerous for children to be around but created a community of adults who were rarely sober. By offering small loans, and with support from the Teams parents were able to set up alternative small businesses and can now afford to send their children to school.
Workshops also focus on hygiene, health and sanitation and encourage people to change habits to keep their communities clean. They organise regular cleaning days and encourage people to dispose of waste properly. As one household makes changes and takes pride in their plot, others follow suit.
The Child Protection Teams become ambassadors for the welfare of children and their communities look to them for support and advice. They help to build better relationships between communities and the police too, so more crimes are reported and dealt with effectively. In Loco, the police had tried and failed to engage the community but through Q&A sessions, trust was rebuilt and the police are now successfully working with the Child Protection Team to address domestic violence and substance misuse.
Team members are often the first to report or be notified of crimes taking place and we see significant reduction in crime across the areas where they work. They are given t-shirts to make them visible so people can seek them out when there is trouble and have loud-hailers and bikes so they have a quick way to alert everyone when there’s danger, for example a missing child or an abduction.
Their regular physical presence in the community acts as a deterrent for crimes including child trafficking. The Teams are trained to intervene and advise in situations where children are at risk and as result communities see a reduction in child abuse, child sacrifice and child labour. Children have been quickly found or predators caught thanks to Child Protection Teams.
Child Protection Teams are so effective because people are empowered to make the changes they want to see in their own communities. They are rooted in and owned by the community, so they are sustainable and offer long term protection for children.
HELP US SET UP THREE NEW CHILD PROTECTION TEAMS
Children on the Edge want to establish new Child Protection Teams in three new communities in Uganda - Busia, Karamoja and Namataala - where children are in urgent need of protection.
Our simple, low cost, model is easy to replicate and proven to work. Could you make a donation today and support our work to protect children in Uganda?
£41 could cover the cost of one workshop to train new Child Protection Team members.