In an effort to respond to the harm caused by the World Bank funded Uganda Transport Sector Development Project (UTSDP), including the sexual exploitation of teenage girls, the World Bank and the Government of Uganda committed funds to the Emergency Child Protection Response (ECPR) program. After the successful implementation of the ECPR program, the World Bank and Uganda continue to support measures to enhance child protection in Kamwenge and Kabarole districts through the Supporting Children’s Opportunities through Protection and Empowerment (SCOPE) project. Launched on the 27th March 2017, full implementation began in September and is set to run till end of November 2018. SCOPE is coordinated by the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MGLSD) in close collaboration with line ministries, departments and agencies, Kamwenge and Kabarole District Local Governments and civil society organizations (CSOs).
Implementing CSO partners, namely International Justice Mission (IJM)/Joy for Children, World Vision, and BRAC were competitively selected and contracted by the MGLSD to support the delivery of a Minimum Package of Services (MPS) for child survivors of sexual violence and for prevention interventions. IJM is tasked with improving case management of sexual violence against children and providing legal counselling and accompaniment for child survivors of sexual violence and their guardians, while Joy for Children is tasked with enhancing community level referrals. World Vision was selected to deliver services in relation to emergency health care and psycho-social support and BRAC was tasked to deliver services in relation to prevention of violence against children and gender based violence and livelihood support.
IJM worked with Uganda Police and Justice, Law and Order Sector-trained police offices, community based service departments and prison officers to conduct specialised investigation and response to sexual violence against children. Health facilities in Ruteete and Bigodi were established as safe heavens to provide child friendly services for survivors of sexual violence. World Vision trained 24 community psychosocial and GBV facilitators to identify and appropriately refer child abuse and other GBV cases in the communities.
BRAC has provided life skills training to 35 peer leaders to enable them support the vulnerable adolescents and survivors of VAC in 35 Girls’ Clubs reaching over 285 former victims and other vulnerable children in the communities. 32 Health workers from Bigodi, Ruteete Health Centres and surrounding health facilities have been oriented on standards and guidelines on medical examination of victims of sexual assault including evidence preservation for case management by World Vision and International Justice Mission in collaboration with Department of Health Services from both districts.
Notably under SCOPE, the District Action Centers were renovated, and have registered significant progress on the cases reported through the Uganda Child Helpline 116. Data collection and documentation of cases has also improved at Police, District Action Centres and Health centres. Over 61 children have benefited from child friendly services at Ruteete and Bigodi Health Centre while 282 abused children have received basic psychosocial support by the trained para-social workers. Ongoing community engagement efforts through Community Dialogues and radio talk shows involving local leadership and service providers have provided the opportunity to clarify to the public the role of service providers and government in responding to abuse, and to prevent future occurrences. SCOPE project has reactivated the efforts of many actors in the target districts to openly talk and report cases of child abuse and GBV.
There are ongoing efforts to ensure that districts embrace the interventions by SCOPE and integrate them in their work plans and budgets. Strong coordination has also enabled other partners to contribute to SCOPE efforts. For example, Kamwenge District received 2 motorcycles from UNICEF to reach and support girls in more remote communities as a result of lobbying and advocacy by the district to close gaps identified with support from the SCOPE Project.
SCOPE interventions will be further strengthened by a US$40 million World Bank loan for the Social Risk Management and Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Project.