As a result of endemic poverty in the slums surrounding Jinja, children are at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Slum communities surrounding Jinja in Eastern Uganda face a myriad of challenges. Located on the eastern bank of the Nile, around 20,000 people are crowded into eight slum areas. People here face endemic poverty, destructive livelihoods, poor hygiene and sanitation. Crime rates are high and there is a lack of access to rights and services.
The bulk of international aid, development funding and media focus is concentrated on the refugee influx and areas of deprivation in the north. Many refugees entering over the country’s northern border have ended up migrating to the slums around Jinja, as well as a sizeable movement of Karamajong people into one of the poorer villages. Rural people are also migrating to these areas in high numbers, only to find there is a lack of the housing and income opportunities they hoped for.
Women around Jinja are particularly vulnerable, with a prevalence of HIV/AIDS resulting in single mother, child and grandparent headed households. High levels of alcoholism leads to domestic violence and abuse.
All these challenges have led to unsafe environments for children, leaving them vulnerable to maltreatment, neglect, exploitation and child sacrifice.
Child sacrifice has become a growing problem in Uganda. The practice is rooted in traditional beliefs, and a number of socio-economic and cultural factors (poverty, weak legislation and poor parenting) have been put forth by analysts to explain the sudden increase in its occurrence. Specific legislation and grassroots awareness and training is needed to eradicate the problem.
In terms of education, Uganda has a large out-of-school population. UN statistics show that although children from the wealthiest households and the best-performing regions are close to universal school completion (78% for children from the richest households in Kampala), the poorest are only at a 26% completion rate.
Education resources are scarce, with an average of one textbook for every three children, and a ratio of one teacher to 46 children. In 2016 UNICEF state that only 11% of children benefit from any form of pre-primary education and only 25% reach the end of primary.
Facing these challenges for years, the hard-pressed communities around Jinja have struggled against a growing sense of apathy and a lack of hope to see change.
What we are doing to help
Through voluntary Child Protection Teams, Children on the Edge Africa are supporting communities to create a protective environment for their children.
Through Children on the Edge Africa, we support five slum communities around Jinja to create protective environments for their children. This is achieved through the establishment of voluntary Child Protection Teams (CPTs).
After a successful pilot scheme in Masese II slum, we have expanded the work to Masese I, Masese III, Loco and Wandago. CPTs here are:
The Child Protection Team in Loco have worked together with Children on the Edge - Africa to establish an Early Childhood Development Centre, providing early years education for over 70 children from the most vulnerable households.
They have also established a ‘Child Rights Club’ with 20 children, enabling them to learn about their rights, represent the views of themselves and their friends and have a voice in shaping their community. This club is now being successfully replicated in Masese 1 community.
Staff from Uganda and UK teams have developed a participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) framework, employing technology and using the Most Significant Change technique to measure change and impact.
After our pilot scheme eradicated the number of child sacrifice incidents in one area, new teams are employing the same awareness methods in their own neighbourhoods.
On a national level, together with Ugandan partner organisations, we are making progress in lobbying for stand-alone legislation, addressing child sacrifice in the Ugandan parliament.
After initial community and child led needs assessments, Children on the Edge Africa are also working to support and develop existing child protection structures in Wandago slum, Jinja and Katooke slum outside Kampala. A new Early Childhood Development Centre has been built in Wandago which has developed an active and engaged Child Protection Team. Child Protection workshops in Katooke have been making an impact over the last year.
“People see workshops, they see a team that deals with their problems, they see a drop in domestic violence and crime, they see their children on a playscheme and a new Early Childhood Development Centre being built, and it gives them hope .... hope is knowing things can change.”
Chairman of Loco Child Protection Team
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A huge thank you to the individuals and organisations who are funding this vital work in Uganda. These include: