Girl-Friendly Latrine to Boost School Attendance

Overriding goal of the project is to ensure Girls from 5 schools in Soroti District, Uganda will not have to miss school simply because they are menstruating. The project aims to install sanitary facilities by construction of 5 VIP Latrines, each with a water tank (rain harvest), well-furnished changing room for girls, and provision of hand washing facilities to support vulnerable girls. With your donation, we will enable girls to manage their periods and improve girl's education.


At school, girls are faced with poor facilities -inadequate water for washing, lack of soap, no privacy and non-functioning or insufficient toilets. This reduces school attendance and often leads to girls dropping out of school during their menstrual periods. Adolescent girls are often absent from school due, in part, to inadequate water, sanitation facilities. At all times, girls need facilities that provide privacy, security to avoid risk of harassment.


The project aim is to construct 5 latrines of 5 stances each with wash rooms/changing room and to provide reliable clean washing water for girls of menstruating age in 5 schools identified in the Soroti district. Also, to reduce the high pupil to latrines ratio and provide a separate girls' pit-latrine with washing facilities and clean water in the 5 schools, this will ensure school attendance of girls during menstruation and increase the number of girls with qualifications.

Long-Term Impact

By the end of the project 5 public schools shall serve as role models in providing girls' sanitation facilities and capacity building for 2000 rural young but sexually maturing girls. Menstrual management, drop-outs for girls are expected to reduce considerably. 5 girl-friendly latrines constructed in 5 schools with washing facilities and clean water will ensure school attendance of girls during menstruation and increase the number of girls with qualifications.

To support this program please donation using the form below

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Leap forward to end child marriage in Uganda

SCOEN-Uganda supports new legislation to help eradicate child marriage in Uganda within a generation

7 million child brides

Child marriage affects 70 million girls in the world and Uganda have child brides.

The model law has been developed in response to this high prevalence of child marriage in Africa, which is largely driven by high poverty levels, gender inequality, traditions, religion and limited educational opportunities for girls. It will provide guidance to parliamentarians, ministries of justice, policymakers, and other stakeholders in Southern African countries as they develop national laws.

Working in partnership

The new model law eliminates several loopholes that make current laws ineffective and unenforceable including those around parental and judicial consent, and conflicts between customary and statuary laws.

Advancing girls’ equality for much more than one day

What would the world look like if girls were equal to boys? This year’s International Day of the Girl provides a tantalizing glimpse of the change we want to see, writes Plan International CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen.

Imagine a world where girls and young women are seen and heard, occupying positions of influence within their communities and beyond. Today, on 11 October, you don’t have to imagine: girls will be stepping into the shoes of political, social and economic leaders in a mass takeover that will make the invisible lives of girls – both their plight and their potential – truly visible.

By the end of the day, there will have been over 250 takeovers in more than 50 countries. From the President of Nepal and the Vice-President of Paraguay to the Minister of Finance in Canada, leading figures will be stepping aside; in Uganda, a girl will take over as speaker of the national parliament; in Guinea-Bissau, a young woman will co-host a national TV debate; in China and Thailand, girls will take over their teachers’ roles, and in Indonesia a girl is taking over the role of the Minister of Manpower.

When girls see what is possible, they are more likely to be inspired for themselves and to become active agents of change. But the takeovers also provide an opportunity for those stepping aside to work with young women, to listen and to learn; to find out from them directly how they want to change their lives for the better.

Millions of girls denied their rights

Because lives need to change. In every walk of life, in every corner of the world, girls face discrimination and injustice. Millions are denied their rights to a good education. They are unable to play an active and equal role in society. They are prevented from taking important decisions that affect their own lives, including decisions about sexual and reproductive health. And they are often at risk of violence, simply for being a girl.

Things can change. Last year the UN agreed an ambitious set of Global Goals that include the promise of achieving gender equality by 2030. While the challenges in achieving those goals are vast, they are not insurmountable, if we act and act now. That will require a clear-sighted agenda for change, based on six key elements.

Joint action for girls

First, we need to get the legal framework right. Currently, there are few direct mentions of girls in key international human rights instruments and, until that changes, girls will remain invisible. But we also need to build a movement to bolster those rights, and to drive change more widely.

A strong, grass-roots movement for girls’ rights has emerged in recent years. We need now to strengthen and sustain that movement, building solidarity with the girls and young women already at the front lines demanding their rights. Our global ‘takeover’ is just one way in which we plan to grow that movement.

Data to drive global movement

Third, while the UN’s Global Goals represent an impressive statement of intent, they are just words unless governments act on the commitments they have made. We need to be ready to help countries deliver, but also to challenge them when they do not.

If we are going to hold governments to account, we need better data and we need to use it more effectively: girls are ‘invisible’ to policy-makers because they are not being counted. But better data are also vital to making the right kind of decisions and investments that can transform girls’ lives.

Trans-formative change also requires new ways of working. We need to involve everyone, and the private sector has just as much of a role to play here as NGOs. Only by finding new ways of collaborating will we be able to find new solutions to complex problems.

Finally, we need to get the resourcing right. Just meeting the worldwide need for pregnancy-related care will require $28 billion annually, a 100% increase from current funding. We’ll need to be smarter about using all of the resources that are available, including working with the government.

Investing in girls now will pay dividends in the future

Why is it that we still need to talk about women’s economic empowerment in 2017? Once you peel back the layers of data and statistics, you get to the bottom of the issue. It’s raw, and most people don’t want to hear it, but it’s at the root of all: girls are less valued than boys.

A lifetime living in the shadow

It’s possible to accurately tell the gender of a foetus from 18 weeks. From this point onwards, not having even left the womb, girls are under greater threat than boys. Gender-biased sex selection is not a new phenomenon, and it’s estimated that 117 million women* across Asia are “missing” because of it. If a girl survives this first hurdle, as she grows and reaches school age, she faces her next major barrier –getting an education. One in 5 adolescent girls across the globe continue to be denied their right to education. The reasons for this aremany, but think on these two statistics:
  • More than two-thirds of all child domestic workers are girls.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. More than 1 in 3 – about 250 million – were married before their 15th birthday.
Depending on how her education has fared, and if she’s avoided marriage at 13, and escaped domestic servitude, she will enter the workforce, and face the barriers working women face daily. And don’t forget that to find work is a major achievement: girls and young women make up the majority of the world’s 628 million young people who are not in education, training or employment.

Girls and women bear the brunt of unpaid work

Our girl will probably be expected to do some work for free. The unpaid work around the globe that keeps our economies ticking along lands disproportionately on the shoulders of girls and women. On average, women spend 3 times as many hours as men doing unpaid care and domestic work. But even small changes here can make a difference: a Gates Foundation study recently found that school enrolment rates for girls increased by 12% in one country when the time walking to collect water was reduced by an hour.

No investment and little protection

In 90% of countries there is at least one law that acts as a barrier to women’s economic equality. Economic equality is a contributing factor to gender equality. However, 190 million fewer women have an account at a financial institution than men. Why? Because if you’re a woman or young girl it’s much harder to get a formal credit history, to apply for proper identification, and in some countries you may need permission from your husband to open an account. How do you participate in public life and improve your understanding of finance when you can’t even open a bank account? According to the World Bank, in 90% of countries there is at least one law that acts as a barrier to women’s economic equality. Their research also highlighted that in 18 countries, a woman has to ask for her husband’s permission to work.

Added impact of gender-based violence

Forty-one countries completely lack laws against sexual harassment, while 46 have no laws addressing domestic violence. The prevalence of gender-based violence within the home, in public spaces, on the way to work and in the workplace also has a significant impact on girls’ and women’s economic performance. And yet still, in 2017, many countries still do not provide protection from violence and harassment for girls and women. Forty-one out of 173 countries examined by the World Bank completely lack laws against sexual harassment, while 46 countries have no laws addressing domestic violence. Is it any wonder with all these societal, educational, financial and legal barriers constricting a girl’s development, that 100 million young women around the globe can’t read a single sentence? This is no way to treat half of the world’s population.

Breaking the cycle

Girls don’t need empowering; they just need a fair start and a level playing field. That’s why at Plan International we are aiming over the next 5 years to make sure 100 million girls learn, lead, decide, and thrive.

16 steps to end School-Related Gender-Based Violence

An estimated 246 million girls and boys are harassed and abused in and around school every year.

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) can take the form of psychological, physical and sexual violence against boys and girls in, around and on the way to and from school.

SRGBV is a grave violation of human rights and impedes a child’s right to education; it affects their psychological, physical and social well-being as well as their ability to learn.

Both boys and girls are vulnerable to different forms of violence in and around schools.

SRGBV stems from deeply rooted gender norms, stereotypes, systemic inequalities and unequal power dynamics based on gender. Situations of protracted conflict, displacement and poverty exacerbate children’s vulnerability to SRGBV.

SRGBV includes explicit threats or acts of physical violence, bullying, verbal or sexual harassment, non-consensual touching, sexual coercion and assault, and rape.

Other implicit acts of SRGBV stem from everyday school practices that reinforce stereotyping and gender inequality, and encourage violent or unsafe environments. In particular, these acts can surface against those who do not conform to mainstream conceptions of masculinity or femininity. Corporal punishment and discipline are also often used in schools in gendered and discriminatory ways. Around the world, male and female educators and students can be victims and perpetrators of violence, although the extent and form can differ and vary across countries and within regions.

Evidence suggests that SRGBV is detrimental to learning and has serious physical and mental health effects. It negatively impacts children’s ability to participate in school activities, can cause lower achievement and performance, and lead to students dropping out of school.

While schools mirror gender inequalities and discrimination that exists in the home and within communities and societies at large, schools can also play a transformative role in shifting harmful gender norms and discriminatory practices. Schools need to become safe and secure environments where children learn to develop mutual respect and an understanding of gender equality in order to raise their voices against discrimination and gender-based violence. When a child is able to access safe, quality education, he or she unlocks his or her own potential and is better able to contribute to the wellbeing of their community.

When schools are free from gender-based violence, there are positive ripple effects beyond the classroom, including a transformation of traditional gender narratives and changes in the way girls and boys see and engage with the world around them.

We call on UN Agencies and Member States to:

  1. Recognize that SRGBV is an important barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, Goals 3, 4, 5 and 16

We call on Governments to:

  1. Adopt comprehensive, gender-responsive and multi-sectoral action plans to eliminate SRGBV, including enactment of laws that explicitly protect children from all forms of violence and the provision of specific budget allocations for the implementation and dissemination of plans
  2. Establish safe and effective child-friendly reporting mechanisms and multi-sectoral response services for SRGBV that are clear, proportionate and consistent with the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC)

We call on Donors to:

  1. Prioritize and expand financing to support programs addressing SRGV, particularly among under-served, marginalized populations as well as prevention programs that address non-violent conflict resolution, shifting harmful gender norms, power inequalities and dynamics.
  2. Provide funding for formative and action research, program and policy evaluations to build the evidence base and good practice on SRGBV in the global south; particularly its impact on psychological and physical well-being and learning achievement, effective interventions, prevalence, reporting and inclusion in education sector planning

We call on Ministries of Education, school administrators and education unions to:

  1. Adopt a code of professional ethics that explicitly addresses SRGBV and is to be observed by all members; enforce school-based reporting and response protocols for educators, support personnel and managers, including the appointment of ‘focus’ educators as a first point of contact for children who experience violence.
  2. Ensure that education content, including curricula, textbooks, pedagogy and classroom practices are gender-sensitive and promote peace and gender equitable norms and attitudes, including through comprehensive sexuality education.
  3. Strengthen pre- and in-service teacher education programmes to make them gender-sensitive and improve and boost the capacity of educators to promote gender equitable norms in their educational practice
  4. Partner with civil society actors to advocate for the protection of students and staff alike within educational settings, especially in the context of war and armed conflict.

We call on Researchers to:

  1. Conduct wide-ranging research to contribute to a strong evidence base and address the gaps in knowledge on the drivers, risks and cultural contexts of SRGBV, including children marginalised by poverty, ethnicity, language, caste, disability, religion, refugee status, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity

We call on NGOs, civil society and the international development community to:

  1. Drive a global movement, together with men and boys, communities and stakeholders to eliminate SRGBV and promote access to schools as violence-free, safe spaces for learning, for all educators and students
  2. Expand programming to address SRGBV by educating and empowering communities and stakeholders at all levels, establishing multi-sectoral coordination, fostering community participation and the voices of boys and girls; and integrate SRGBV into other initiatives on HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention in schools, humanitarian response and peace building, children’s rights, gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment
  3. Develop and disseminate evidence-based program guidance, tools and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms which demonstrate how to address SRGBV effectively
  4. Advocate with governments, donors and education authorities for the fulfilment and protection of children’s rights to access formal and non-formal learning environments that are safe and free from violence; and recognize that SRGBV often increases in conflict-affected countries and during emergencies.

We call on Communities to:

  1. Unite to end harmful social and cultural beliefs that give rise to violence against girls and boys in schools; end harmful practices; and strengthen reporting and response mechanisms within communities and educational institutions

We call on Girls and Boys to:

  1. Stand up and recognized as change-makers. Raise your voices to act against SRGBV and demand safe and secure school environments for all girls and boys around the world

Lessons learned: how to set up a village savings and loan association

After setting up a successful savings group pilot in the Arapai Sub County, Soroti, SCOEN share tips for other NGOs starting a VSLA

After it generated more than an average 40% return on investment for savers, showed evidence of benefits for women and reducing tension between ethnic groups, we are scaling up our pilot village savings and loans association (VSLA) programme in the Soroti District.

Despite our successes, the pilot didn’t run perfectly, so we want to share what we learned in the hope it might be useful for other NGOs entering this field with little or no prior experience in running VSLAs.

Research and observe

We spent a long time researching different microfinance and microcredit models before opting to explore the VSLA model after concerns about the overheated income-generation claims associated with microfinance. We reminded ourselves that our goal was to include the most disadvantaged groups in the region, people without assets for security, access to social relations, markets and financial literacy.

Savings and loans models were the best option, but we knew there was an “off-the-shelf” attitude to this approach. Having the opportunity to visit local VSLA groups cannot be underestimated – as with many complex programmes, it is only through observation and discussion with participants that one starts to gain a greater understanding of how the ideas can transfer to a different context.

Recruit the right team

The major expenditure related to VSLAs is staff costs. Unexpectedly, we found the appointment of three good field agents (FAs) more important than a strong team leader. The FAs need to have expert knowledge of local power dynamics, and be able to gain the respect and trust of local communities. However, as VSLAs are self-managed, they must also be able to guide rather than impose. Interestingly, we found that recruiting those with too much local influence can result in an awkward power dynamics.

For example, we recruited a well-educated, very thoughtful and well-connected local man who also happened to be a customary chief (local leader).In hindsight, he shouldn’t have been recruited – his role as leader came before his VSLA work. It created a hierarchy with VSLA members defaulting to him, rather than feeling comfortable in their own leadership. The other two FAs were younger, from the area, but with no customary leadership roles. The dynamics of these groups were much better.

Tap into the VSLA community

There is a global VSLA community – tap into it. VSL Associates and Savings Groups are the two major VSLA platforms – on these you will find ready-made training materials and online discussion groups. Seek out local VSLA programmes and see if you and your project team can visit them too.

Take a patient, open approach

We stuck very rigidly to the pure VSLA approach, but when we realised the pilot was taking longer than we had planned, we extended the time limit, rather than rushed to complete before we were ready. Our communities have coped with conflict and displacement, so are very resilient and are used to living with little or no state support, but it still needs to be clear what is expected of all parties. When we visit groups there is still often a request for us to ‘help’ by topping-up the kitty. This underlines the importance of open dialogue right from the beginning.

Dedicate time and money to monitoring, evaluation and learning

Because we wanted to track not just economic and membership data but impact on nutrition, shelter, education, health, women’s empowerment and social status, – monitoring, evaluation and learning has been the heaviest time burden on the team. It definitely needs to be planned and budgeted for.

Scaling up, we have invested in an assistant team leader to support this process. But as field agents built up excellent relationships with VSLA members, the learning gleaned is second to none. Qualitative assessment produced the real surprises, showing there was a consistent shift away from men dominating household decision making to joint decision making between husband and wife. The social benefits of the VSLAs in terms of social cohesion and intra-communal solidarity also seemed to carry as much weight as the financial benefits. And curiously, social norms of who owns livestock appear to be breaking down, with women and Ipei groups aspiring to own household development.

Getting feedback from participants also has showed us that we previously had a very limited view of how people manage their financial affairs on the plateau. Other credit and perhaps savings arrangements exist within the communities, and the key thing next is to understand is how VSLAs can improve the process of managing and planning complex lives, rather than imagining VSLAs replace them because they are better.

What was our impact?

Social impact is a notoriously tricky area to measure, and we feel we have only just started to scratch the surface through the findings mentioned above. How did our pilot compare to the performance of VSLAs elsewhere? This is difficult to say. Pilots tend to be more resource and support intensive, and perhaps coax out better performance than full scale programmes.

We know that there is a conditional VSLA programme also currently in the region that is linked to sending orphans to school. This is not a direct comparison to ours. We had toyed with the idea of explicitly linking the VSLAs to child wellbeing and education, since this reflects our mission as an organisation, but concluded pilots need to be stripped of unwarranted assumptions and external demands.

Child mother testimony moves leaders to tears

In short
A testimony of a 15 year old child-mother moved leaders to tears as she narrated her ordeal during the launch of End child marriage€ campaign in Amuria yesterday. Uganda is among the 15 worst African countries with high numbers of child brides. An inter-agency report released in March last year says 46% of underage girls below 18 are forced or lured into marriage, putting Uganda in the 11th position on the list. Niger tops the list at 75% followed by Chad with 72% of child marriages.

A testimony of a 15 year old child-mother moved leaders to tears as she narrated her ordeal during the launch of “End child marriage” campaign in Amuria yesterday. Agnes Kabonesa, who lost her father at an early age, says she was forced into marriage by her mother. Kabonesa dropped out of school when she was fifteen years. The campaign of end child marriage now was organized by World Vision Uganda.

Kabonesa’s testimony moved most people to tears as she narrated how her mother forced her into early marriage. She said that her mother kept quarreling and asking her why she was not getting married so that she could enjoy her daughter’s dowry before she dies. Kabonesa says due to lack of simple necessities like sanitary pads, soap and smearing oil that her mother failed to provide she was compelled to accept advances from a primary seven drop out. She consequently became pregnant and she was forced to go and stay with her teenage husband.

Kabonesa said her mother and her uncles went and picked one cow and 50,000 shillings as fine from her husband’s parents before they chased her to go to live at the boy’s family. As Kabonesa went on to narrate her moving testimony most people could not hold back their tears. The district chairperson Amuria, John Francis Oluma confessed that Kabonesa’s testimony moved him to tears. Oluma noted that Amuria district leads in child marriages in the Teso sub-region. Kabonesa had complications while giving birth and her child passed away shortly after delivery. She went back to school after dropping out in Senior Two. With the support from World Vision she managed to sit her Ordinary Level exams last year. Caroline Birungi, the in charge child protection desk at East Kyoga regional police, said that in 2013 alone over 1389 defilement cases were reported to police. Close to two million Ugandan children are forced or lured into early marriages, according to a report on African human social development. The inter-agency report is compiled from statistics gathered between 2010 and 2012 from UN Population Fund, UNICEF, World Health Organisation and the World Bank. The report puts Uganda among the 15 worst African countries with high numbers of child brides. According to the report, 46% of underage girls below 18 are forced or lured into marriage, putting Uganda in the 11th position on the list. Niger tops the list at 75% followed by Chad with 72% of child marriages.

Violence in school affects learning for both girls and boys

While boys and girls can be both victims and perpetrators of SRGBV, girls are often at greater risk of sexual violence, whilst boys are often more exposed to corporal punishment and bullying. Teachers and school staff -important partners addressing SRGBV – can also be perpetrators, in some cases acting with impunity. Poorly enforced legislation, inadequate child protection policies and weak or non-existent reporting mechanisms all increase children’s vulnerability to SRGBV.

SRGBV has serious consequences for children’s physical and mental health and well-being. It has been shown to adversely impact learning, school attendance and completion. New analysis presented in our paper shows that bullying affects boys’ and girls’ ability to master basic numeracy skills.

Sexual violence is a highly destructive form of SRGBV that contributes to girls’ poor performance and dropout. Unintended pregnancy resulting from sexual coercion and rape effectively marks the end of their education in many countries.

While increased advocacy and recognition of SRGBV has been a positive trend in recent years, we still do not know its full scale or impact. Reliable international data are lacking on the various forms of SRGBV and on sexual violence in particular.
Evidence across and within countries is uneven and incomplete. Cross-national surveys and learning assessments that collect data on violence within school settings have generally focused on physical violence and bullying, and have not always applied a gender perspective.

Women Demand Police Action on Alleged Kidnappings

A group of activists marched on the Ugandan police headquarters Tuesday, protesting what they see as a lack of police response to recent kidnappings and killings.

Donning black T-shirts, the participants chanted, carried banners reading “Women’s Lives Matter,” and used saucepans and small drums to call attention to their demonstration.

But as they approached police headquarters, anti-riot police arrested four men and one woman.

Sarah Eperu was one of the protesters led away in handcuffs.

“We want security, that is paramount,” she said. “We want conclusive investigations. And then we want a desk, specifically for these murders, put in place so that we know that there is a desk which is going to work on the murders, to investigate. … [We want] mechanisms in place which will make sure that we are secure.”

This is the second protest this week by activists who say police are not giving ordinary citizens enough protection.

The activists point to several kidnappings that have gone unsolved, with some ending up in gruesome murders of victims, even after relatives paid ransom money.

But police say that some of the alleged abductions were self-kidnappings, done by people trying to defraud their relatives.

As for the killings, police say some of those were crimes of passion or ritual murders.

“Since January, up to today, there have been 42 cases of kidnap that have been reported and investigated,” said Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesman. “Seven cases involved murder with eight victims. Twenty cases were of self-kidnap. [In] eight cases, all victims were rescued alive. Seven cases, victims are still missing.”

Only one recent kidnap case is in court, after the abduction and killing of a wealthy businessman’s daughter. Nine suspects have been arrested in the incident.

When people call the police in Uganda, officers sometimes seek payment for fuel before driving to the crime scene. Last year, the inspector general of police was asked about this practice. He said police are given less fuel by the government, so the public should pitch in.

Call for the Resignation of MP Domestic Violence

Onesmus Twinamasiko, a member of Uganda’s parliament, sparked national outrage by stating in a television interview that men should beat their wives.

Twinamasiko was being interviewed on local television network NTV in response to the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni admonition in a speech marking the International Women’s Day observances on March 8. Museveni said in his speech that “a man who batters a woman is foolish and a coward.”

That a legislator like Twinamasiko should express support for domestic violence is particularly unproductive, as Uganda continues to struggle with gender-based violence. Nor is it the first time a politician has made such statements. In 2013, the then Minister of Youth Affairs, Ronald Kibuule, said that women who are dress “indecently” were asking to be raped, and that men convicted for raping such women should be released. More recently, in January 2018, the US State Department asked Uganda’s deputy ambassador to the US, Dickson Ogwang, to leave the country after he had reportedly beaten his wife.

Recently, a female journalist recently broke the silence about being battered by her husband; the case caused an uproar on social media. Stories about domestic violence are also common fare in the country’s dailies.

The latest data from UN women reports that 51% of women in Uganda have experience “intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.” A police report quoted last year in The Daily Monitor showed a marked increase in deaths of women due to gender-based violence, from 109 in 2010 to 163 in 2016.

Twinamasiko’s statements are also surprising in light of the Domestic Violence Act that was passed in 2010 “to provide for protection and relief of victims of domestic violence; to provide for the punishment of perpetrators of domestic violence…” The act received massive support from politicians of both the ruling and opposition parties, religious leaders and civil society.

The online commentary from Ugandans highlighted the backwardness and wrong-headedness of Twinamasiko’s thinking:

This situation will prove a true test for the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who is currently in New York attending the 62nd UN session Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Kadaga has said that the parliamentary Committee on Rules, Discipline and Privileges will investigateTwinamasiko’s comments and give a report to the House.

Uganda declares ending HIV/AIDS by 2030

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said Uganda was fully committed to achieving zero infections.

Uganda has adopted a Political Declaration by the United Nations General Assembly, to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Uganda was one of the member states at the United Nations General Assembly high level meeting on ending AIDS in New York, United States of America, that adopted the declaration.

Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who represented President Yoweri Museveni at the meeting said the Government of Uganda supports the declaration that commits to bold strategies, aimed at ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

Rugunda said Government was working with development partners, the private sector, civil society, religious and cultural leaders and communities to combat the scourge.

“The focus of the Uganda National AIDS response has been to implement high impact structural, behavioral and biomedical interventions on a sufficient scale and intensity in order to achieve HIV epidemic control,” he said.

According to the Premier, Government was striving towards zero new infections, zero HIV related mortality and morbidity and zero discrimination by strengthening the adolescent HIV/AIDS programmes, adopting the test and treat policy as well as ensuring sustained financing for the HIV/AIDS response through legislation that established the AIDS Trust fund.

“We also stand by the common African position to this United Nations General Assembly high level meeting that advocates for 95:95:95 targets by 2030,” he said.

In the recent budget reading by Matia Kasaija, the designated Minister of Finance, Government pledged to continue prioritizing the implementation of the National Prevention Strategy of HIV/AIDS and also expand Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) coverage to 80%, with an emphasis on testing and treatment of the ‘most-at- risk’ population, and elimination of Mother to Child Transmission.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicated that at the end of 2015, the number of new HIV infections had declined from 162,000 in 2011 to 83,265 while the prevalence among HIV exposed infants reduced from 19% in 2007 to 3% by the end of 2015.

In addition, the number of AIDS related deaths have declined from 63,000 in 2011 to 28,000 by December 2015.

Some of the challenges that must be overcome to fast-track HIV/AIDS response include the fact that only 55%of Ugandans have ever tested for HIV while 43% of those eligible for treatment are not receiving it.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft said the global community was united in its resolution to end the AIDS epidemic within the framework of the SDGs.

“We have to be accountable for the commitments we make leaving no one behind,” Lykketoft said, adding that eradicating AIDS will be one of the greatest achievements of this generation.

The General Assembly was also addressed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon who said everyone affected must have access to comprehensive HIV services without discrimination.

The United Nations General Assembly meeting on ending AIDS was convened by the President of the UN General Assembly and co-facilitated by Switzerland and Zambia.

Rugunda said the Uganda population HIV impact assessment survey, which is set to commence in July 2016, will provide Government with better and current estimates of the number of people infected with HIV and thus better estimate of the first 90 target.

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