Strengthening child protection through dialogue, partnership and awareness raising in Uganda
The Corra Voices, Partnerships and Relationships in International Development Learning Process aims to continue improving Corra’s approach to supportive and accessible grant-making. Five partnerships were involved in this initiative and supported through pilot grants, a total of 11 participating organisations from India, Malawi, Rwanda, Scotland and Uganda. Below is a project story from one of the partnerships, involving Action for Rural Women Empowerment (ARUWE) in Uganda and Signpost International in Scotland.
Both partners’ mission is to support communities facing marginalization. Based in Kampala, ARUWE has a particular focus on women and children and support through education, health and economic development. In addition to international partnerships, Signpost also work with their local community in Dundee, running a community centre, outreach and educational programmes and supporting a local foodbank.
ARUWE and Signpost’s previous work with schools in Uganda’s Nebbi District had identified child safeguarding as a problem that has worsened during the pandemic. With Corra funding, their partnership is working to strengthen reporting and response systems.
A mainly rural area, only a third of girls typically complete primary school with around a fifth either married or pregnant with their first child before reaching 17 years old. While gender-based discrimination and poverty are important factors, community attitudes and weak systems to respond to incidents of child abuse also contribute to the problem.
The project has supported a series of community dialogue and awareness-raising sessions which have helped people speak out about issues. These discussions have helped to highlight the longer-term harm caused by violence and neglect, and the different responsibilities parents, schools, local authorities and the police have in addressing such problems.
A local radio panel discussion has been held to share information on child rights and protection with listeners in the region and school managers are involved in preparing a drama script for a forthcoming radio show on the role of parents in child safeguarding.
These efforts are bearing fruit. Schools are taking a more active role as teachers and parents have been able to use the dialogue meetings to discuss needs and action, including the development of school safeguarding policies. People are now clearer how to refer cases to the authorities and say that community leaders are now more aware of their responsibilities.
Teachers have expressed that they are now clearer and more confident about their role, and how important it is, in supporting safeguarding. Parents have also shared that the discussions and broadcasts have helped them improve their parents.
A parent of a Jupangira Primary School pupil said, “Ever since I listened to the radio talk show where the Community Development Officer discussed the role of parents in protecting our children I have incorporated the knowledge and ideas acquired in the management of my children at home”.
Suzan, a radio caller from Jupakeno village, commented that, “We are glad that the leaders have committed to supporting the communities to ensure children are safe. Before leaders were not responsive… Mothers have been trying to report such incidents, but these would stall which had demotivated community members from reporting – but also motivating the culprits to continue abusing children. Leaders’ commitment has also changed our attitude towards safeguarding of children.”
Next steps on the grant are to continue strengthening school capacities, including establishing peer support groups for pupils, more work on public information, and setting up five community safeguarding hubs to support advice and reporting.
ARUWE and Signpost will use community feedback, reflection and learning on this initiative to plan safeguarding work across a wider area in future, potentially expanding to other parts of Uganda and also informing how international partners might address similar issues in other countries.
For more information on the partnership’s work, please see: