Local authorities trained to report, track, refer and respond to cases of violence against children
“The community has been very supportive. All the 156 cases were reported through the local council system."
In Adjumani District, local council authorities and senior assistant chief administrative officers have been trained to report, track, refer and respond to cases of violence against children. Teachers, members of school management committees and health workers have also been trained in this vital tool to create safe communities and schools for children.
As a result of the training, the officials are more vigilant and the number of cases reported, investigated and prosecuted has increased. From March 2020 – when the President of Uganda announced a countrywide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – until September 2020, Adjumani District has recorded 156 cases of violence against children.
“The district has been key to respond to cases of violence against children. But they could not do this alone. That is why we had to train local council officials and representatives from other key sectors so that they can identify these cases and report them to the district for follow-up and action,”
He notes that equipping the district leaderships with these skills has seen an increase in cases reported and followed up. The training was conducted by the district with UNICEF support and funding from the David Beckham Foundation through the United Kingdom National Committee for UNICEF.
To identify solutions to the increasing cases of violence against children, UNICEF, together with Adjumani District, has planned focus group discussions and barazaas to facilitate community discussions on why adolescent girls and boys suffer from various forms of violence, and to agree on workable solutions to end these violations.
Adjumani District Senior Education Officer, Phillip Akuku Kaya, says the different stakeholders were also trained in conflict disaster risk management, the gender pedagogy approach and how to address violence against children in schools.
“The community has been very supportive. All the 156 cases were reported through the local council system. Three of these have been handled in court while we have managed to reunite five girls with their families. These girls had been married off,”
He says the challenges experienced while handling such cases is the way the police and the judiciary manage the cases reported to them and the reluctance of some parents to report the cases.
Akuku reveals that without the funding from the David Beckham Foundation, the trainings to report, track, refer and respond to cases of violence against children would not have taken place as the revenue for the education sector in the district is very limited. With the activities spearheaded by UNICEF and other partners, learning outcomes have improved in the district.
He adds that the completion rate before UNICEF intervention was at 39 per cent and has since increased to 42 per cent; the net intake rate has improved from 47 per cent to 68 per cent; transition rate is at 73 per cent, up from 53 per cent, while the number of girls who used to drop out of school has reduced from 15 per cent to 8.4 per cent, and for boys from 10.1 per cent to 5.2 per cent.