On March 22nd, 2020 Uganda’s health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Uganda. Over the last year and a half, low-income slum and rural communities within Uganda continue to struggle to have their basic needs met —many families have completely lost their livelihoods, do not have access to proper sanitation measures, live in tightly packed, multi-generational homes, and lack adequate health resources and information. These harmful effects most severely impact women and girls. Our team has been working tirelessly to adapt programming to adequately address the emerging needs of young women and girls. With global vaccine inequity and prolonged school closures, our girls are increasingly vulnerable to violence and exploitation, as well as missing out on their education.
MAJOR CHALLENGES FACED BY OUR GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN DURING COVID-19.
Increased rates of gender-based violence and forced marriages
Lack of sexual and reproductive health resources and education, leading to rising numbers of unintended pregnancy
Financial, health, and social restrictions limiting the continuation of their education
In August 2020, we launched the COVID-19 RESPONSE, which seeks to respond to the specific issues and needs that adolescents are facing as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown measures. Bringing Voices Together is uniquely implemented through community-based, small dialogue circles covering key concerns for adolescent girls and boys, ages 9 to 15 years. This project has ensured that we continue to reach adolescents in our communities, with much-needed learning interventions to promote well-being and cohesion in a safe way, following the Ministry of Health guidelines.
I have witnessed that many adolescents lack access to right and accurate information regarding sexual and reproductive health, but through Bringing Voices Together, they are able to get that information, which can help them stay grounded as they await the re-opening of schools.
Grace Achieng – Project Officer