The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda H.E Rosa Malango together with partners; the Youth Coalition for SDGs leaders spearheading SDGs implementation in both Ankole and Kigezi Sub-regions and Government representatives embarked on a mission to verify progress on UN critical programmes in South Western Uganda on 7th-9th August 2020. It should be noted that this mission was apart of the National Media Campaign to accelerate the localization of the SDGs in Uganda and the One Million SDGs Solutions Innovation Challenge as part of youth Day commemoration, the UN at 75 and SDGS decade action activities.
Youth, having realized how crucial their role is in contributing to National Development and through the Youth Coalition for SDGs, a challenge dubbed the One Million Youth SDGs Solutions was brought to light. We are in an era where innovation and creativity are the lenses of our Future, and it’s only fair if we documented every step to create a balance in History and for future references.
During the 3 days mission, Ms. Malango visited Nakivale settlement, with a population of more than 145,000 Refugees. We all know the challenges faced in such communities especially for the Adolescent Girls and Young Women. Well, majority of us should be curious about how critical issues such as Gender Based violence are being tackled.
It’s without a doubt that poverty and inter-dependency are some of the evidence based drivers of Sexual Gender Based Violence in Refugee Communities, without exception from the Host Communities.
We’ve witnessed rapid increase of such cases especially in the COVID-19 period and guess what, we’ve got to fight back and stand against such impunities on Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Refugee Settlements.
Since 2016, approximately 1048 cases of Sexual Gender Based Violence were reported in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a conclusive report given by Ms. Rebecca Lucy Argom the Program Manager ALIGHT.
Having an opportunity to be in an accountability space should put us in position to identify critical programs like this with much curiosity on how they can transform majority of these survivors into efficient and resilient members of the community. Well, Ms. Argom went ahead and spoke to one of our reporters on how the child protection and Gender Based Violence Information Management System referrals played a huge role in identifying these Young Women and in 2016, the Green House project was flagged off starting with 35 Sexual Gender Based survivors as a pilot study.
The Green House irrigation Scheme in Rubondo Community.
About 6 acres of land was donated by the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda to support this project, this land has since then been used to seasonally grow fruits and Vegetables such as tomatoes, water melons, beetroots and Irish potatoes. Participants were given a one year intensive training and capacitated with skills on how to carryout greenhouse farming. Two outstanding participants were retained to mark consistency in the program routine. Not only did this initiative equip participants with skills but it also created room for counselling services through one on one private sessions.
Achievements from the project.
“Last season cashed in 8.6 Million Shillings,” reported the Chairperson of the Women empowerment project, Ms. Kwitgeko Eliano a Burundian Refugee who graduated from the first cohort . Part of the money was transferred into a savings Sacco (6 Million Ugshs) while the rest was spent on purchasing a modern irrigation equipment (Water pump). According to one of the participants, this eased on the extensive labor incurred especially during the dry season.
A savings Sacco called Adeli was born. With a startup of approximately 6 Million Shillings, 30 Members: 20 women and 10 men came together to embrace financial discipline. This specific initiative helped track the prevalence of Violence in both the Refugee and Host Communities. It also ensured continuity of the green house activities and supported mothers to keep their children in school.
The green house became a Peace keeping symbol for the Refugees and Host Community. It highly promoted co-existence as participants from both communities harmoniously shared the same space, Andrew Sajja the creative and partnership Activator at ALIGHT talks about this in the video below.
The chairperson Adeli Savings Sacco, re-echoed the need for Government and development partners to establish a market in their community. This was because they always found it extremely challenging to transport the produce from Rubondo to the nearby busy markets.
She also suggested establishment of a public means of Transport that could ease safer transportation of the produce from the settlement to busy market centres.
There was a huge gap in supervision of the Green House activities and a recommendation to appoint more livelihood officers was fronted.
H.E Rosa Malango, advised Group leaders to prioritize establishment of stores to address minor issues as she appealed to UN Development partners to support this brave group of women as they identify their key roles in the value chain.
In conclusion, Sexual Gender Based Violence continues to become a huge challenge for Adolescent Girls and Young Women especially in Humanitarian Settings. It’s a power extraction tool that patriarchal systems use to assume power over Young Women, who are capable of becoming Great leaders in their communities. Tackling such an issue from family and community grassroots helps break the vicious chain of victimization.