Child marriage around Uganda

Nearly 1 in every 2 girls in Uganda is married before the age of 18.

Drivers

In Uganda, child marriage is often a result of poverty. Many parents marry their daughters in the hope of securing their financial security. Bride price can also a motivation for parents: a younger bride means a higher bride price for the family.

Limited access to education for girls and traditional and social norms which dictate that girls are married at a young age in order to fulfil their role as a wife and mother, play a role too.

In addition, displaced population living in refugee camps often feel unable to protect their daughters from rape. Marrying them off to a warlord or other authority figure is seen as a form of protection.

Legal age of marriage

The minimum age of marriage in Uganda is 18 for both girls and boys, but a girl can marry at 16 with parental consent.

Initiatives to end child marriage

On 16 June 2015, the Government of Uganda launched the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage and its first ever National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy (2014/2015 – 2019/2020), which was developed in partnership with civil society organisations, including Girls Not Brides members in Uganda, and UN agencies.

Led by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the strategy contains a multi-sectoral monitoring and evaluation framework, as well as an indicative budget for the implementation of the strategy.

UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage

Uganda is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years.

Time to Rethink Universal Primary Education

Most of the enlightened parents were, therefore, left with no choice but to withdraw their children from rural UPE schools.

Of recent, the Ministry of Education and Sports has been in the spotlight. Since the appointment of the First Lady, Janet Museveni, as the Minister of Education and Sports, the ministry has been in the spotlight. The mainstream media have carried headlines on the education sector almost on a weekly basis.

Whereas most stories carried have pointed out the wrongs in the education sector, there has been a great deal of remedies proposed to revamp the sector. One of such stories was about the recent meeting which was held at Golf Course Kampala on the ongoing education sector review. According to the story, key success stories were presented by selected head teachers and parents from model schools like Mbarara Municipal and Arua Hill Primary schools.

The success stories had a familiar best practice of a good relationship between the school authorities and the parents. The parents had agreed to contribute additional funding towards the education of their children in addition to UPE government funds. This best practice needs to be promoted, encouraged and replicated if UPE is to yield success stories across the board.

One of the major causes of poor performance of UPE, especially in rural schools is the neglected role of parents and guardians in the education of their children. In some of the rural schools, the once vibrant Parents and Teachers Associations (PTAs) disintegrated with the introduction of UPE.

The parents negated their role wholly to the government. Some enthusiastic leaders including a few Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) contributed to the magnitude of this trend whenever they threatened, paraded or arrested head teachers who attempted to obtain any additional dues from parents.

In some areas, dialogue between schools authorities and parents on additional shillings to support their children’s education were disallowed by fervent leaders. As a result, a rift between parents and teachers ensued in some areas. Parents accused teachers of wanting to fail government programmes, the teachers were demotivated.

Most of the enlightened parents were, therefore, left with no choice but to withdraw their children from rural UPE schools to either Urban UPE Schools or Private schools.

It should be noted that the good relations between teachers and parents provided the best monitoring and performance management tool for the diverse primary education sector. The rethinking of the UPE programme should, therefore, focus on reintroducing, empowering and enabling parents and teachers associations.

The notion of unguided teachers flocking offices of the Chief Administrative Officers seeking the transfer of teachers needs to be handled. The leaders at all levels need to be proactive in fostering good relations between schools and communities. The roles of District Education Officers (DEOs) and Inspectors of Schools should be stretched to include outreach sensitisation meetings to parents on their roles.

According to the National Planning Authority (NPA) Pre-primary and Primary Education in Uganda: Access, Cost, Quality and Relevance paper of Vision 2040, stabilising food availability in primary school stimulates increased enrolments and school attendance rates and thereby, reducing absenteeism.

Bringing back on board parents and caregivers to take part in the monitoring and management schools at partner level rather than umpire level will go a long way in improving the performance of UPE in rural settings. This has been attested in urban settings where enlightened parents and caregivers are playing a role.

The writer is a social worker

Ending Child Marriage can generate benefits

Ending child marriage today could generate $ 3 billion per year for Uganda by 2030, says a new report published by the World Bank.

In contrast, the perpetuation of child marriage would lead to lower educational attainment for girls and their children, higher population growth, substantial health risks, higher intimate partner violence, and lower earnings for women, as well as higher poverty.

The details were revealed on Tuesday when State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Florence Nakiwala launched the 10th Uganda Economic Update in Kampala.

Titled “Accelerating Uganda’s Development: Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage and Early Childbearing,” the new Uganda Economic Update shows that notwithstanding a declining trend, one in three girls still marry before the age of 18 in Uganda, whether through formal or informal unions.

Almost three in ten girls have their first child before the age of 18.  As a result, the completion rate for both lower and upper secondary school for Ugandan girls remains low.

“The cost of child marriages does not fall solely to the girls and their babies but constitute an enormous lost opportunity for Ugandan society and the Ugandan economy. Educating girls and ending child marriages must be a top priority for any aspiring middle income country. Inaction is really not an option,” said Christina Malmberg Calvo, Country Manager, World Bank Uganda.

The report show that the largest economic benefits from ending child marriage would result from a reduction in population growth and thereby higher standards of living and lower poverty. Those benefits grow over time, potentially reaching US$2.4 billion by 2030.

The second largest economic cost of child marriage is related to low educational attainment for girls, which in turn leads to lack of good jobs and low expected earnings in adulthood for women. Today, if women who had married as girls had been able to delay their marriage, their annual earnings could have been higher by an estimated at US$ 500 million.

The report shows that risks of young children being stunted or dying by age five due to child marriage and teen pregnancies at a young age also have large economic costs. Ending child marriage would likely result to a reduction in intimate partner violence, as young wives are more prone to violence from their partners. Finally, by reducing population growth, ending child marriage would reduce the pressure that providing basic services puts on the national budget. The savings could be invested to improve the quality of public services.

The boost for Uganda’s economy that ending child marriage, preventing early childbearing, and investing in girls’ education would provide, the report states, would be beneficial today given that the economy has been slowing down. At 4.5 percent per annum, the average rate of growth for the past five years is far lower than the rate of 7.0 percent or more achieved in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Government has continued to stimulate growth through increased public spending on infrastructure, and through policies to raise private sector credit to boost investments. However, the projected growth outcome of about 5-6 percent in the next three years will not be sufficient to increase Uganda’s per capita income to middle income status.

Among key recommendations, the economic update calls for greater investment in girls’ education, providing economic opportunities for girls who are out of school and cannot go back to school, and imparting adolescent girls with life skills and reproductive health knowledge.

The 10th Uganda Economic Update benefited from support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Global Partnership for Education.

The report is one of several country studies prepared by the World Bank following up on a global study on the economic impacts of child marriage conducted in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women with additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Atelamoti Community Water Spring

Stories and Community Profile

Executive Summary

Atelamoti community members rely on Onganyakonye Spring, which has always provided water for people here. However, the water source is both a blessing and a curse to its dependents: Locals, especially children under age 5, constantly suffer from stomach-aches and diarrhoea.

Women and children bring their containers and dunk them until they are full. Some find bending over too strenuous, and instead step into the spring to draw its water. This activity is one of many that contaminates drinking water; waste is washed into the spring when it rains, and animals are free to come and go as they please.

Welcome to the Community

Onganyakonye Spring is located in Atelamoti Village where people are peasant farmers who grow maize, beans and cassava as their food crops. grain is also planted in small patches to attract income, however little, from grain market.

When people wake up each morning, their first activity is to walk to Onganyakonye Spring to fetch water for the day’s needs. Some residents sell firewood – harvested from their own family woodlot; some bake bricks or hire themselves for casual labour to make ends meet. The region is adorned with beautiful, picturesque and peculiar outcrops of large igneous rocks that not only provide resting places for the villagers, but also act as ecological niches for reptiles like geckos.

 Water Situation

Onganyakonye Spring is the exclusive source of water for 100 community households as well as the 300 students of Atelamoti Primary School.  It has well-preserved catchment areas that have kept it from drying up, despite seasons of drought that sometimes reduce other springs to dry ground. This makes it a life-giving spring for over 1,000 people. (Editor’s Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people.  This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available.)

“During rainy season water is a lot, but the population is too high for the spring to accommodate all households and the school in its current state. Consequently, the trend has been that people line up to almost midnight and others fight due to overcrowding,” said Madam Jessicah, at 60. She was caught quarrelling with Ruth to give her a chance to fetch water as well, for she had waited in the line since 6 AM, but in vain.

People have suffered typhoid as a result of drinking this unprotected spring’s water – more so children whose immune systems are weak.  Many people in this village have had diarrhoea that can be attributed to unsafe water from the spring. The older folks are fairly resistant, but they too have to buy Water Guard and use it when they notice that the spring’s water is outright polluted, especially during the dry season when the spring is under more pressure from so many users.

Sanitation Situation

Under half of the homes in Atelamoti Village have their own pit latrines which are fashioned from logs and have no doors. The wooden floors become worn out, making them unsafe to use. These pit latrines are very difficult to keep clean, attracting flies which spread diseases.

Rubbish is either disposed of in the garden or behind the homes where chickens scramble for it.  Only 25 – 50% of the homesteads have clothesline and dish racks.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

At least 15 community members and health workers will attend hygiene and sanitation training for two days where a water user committee will be established to oversee all operations around this spring.  The facilitator plans to use PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation), CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation), ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development), group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

Plans: Sanitation Platforms

On the second day of training, participants will select five families – who suffer most from a shortage of sanitation facilities – to benefit from new latrines.
Training will also inform the community and selected families as to what they need to contribute to make this project a success. They must mobilize locally available materials, such as bricks, clean sand, hardcore, and ballast. The five families must prepare by sinking a pit for the sanitation platforms to be placed over. All community members must work together to make sure that accommodations and food are provided for the work teams.

Plans: Spring Protection

This water is not safe for human consumption, yet these people cannot afford to protect the spring by themselves. They are willing and ready to work with the organization to help them protect their water point. Users of this spring are ready to garner all materials required from their side for the protection of this source.

Protecting a spring often results in a stronger flow of water from it.  So, protecting Onganyakonye Spring will alleviate overcrowding and long lines and ensure that the water is safe, adequate and secure.  Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water.  So, the community of Atelamoti will be healthier, happier and able to spend more of their time and energy in school, at work and taking care of their families.

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