Friday, 11 October 2013

Child labour keeps two million out of school

At least two million children aged five to 17 are engaged in child labour, the first Child Labour report released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) reveals.

The report, unveiled recently at Statistics House in Kampala, reveals that the two million child labourers accounted for 16% of the entire children’s population of 11.5 million in Uganda.

According to the report, child labour is among the major causes of child abuse and exploitation. 

The report further faults child labour for slowing down broader national poverty reduction and development efforts. 

It also points to child labour as an obstacle to achieving universal primary education.

“Children who are forced out of school to help supplement their families’ incomes are denied the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to aid them get decent employment in future. 

This ties them down in a cycle of poverty,” the report reads

The report defines child labour as work that is mentally, physically, socially and morally harmful to children. 

It further includes work activities that interfere with children’s school attendance.

To that end, child labour is when children aged five to 11 years are engaged in work, while children aged from12 to 13 years work beyond 14 hours a week and when children aged between 14 and 17 years work at night or for more than 43 hours a week.

Of the child workers, 52.5% were males while 47.5 were female. 

The report further stated that one in every four working children (26%) carried heavy loads at their respective workplaces.

While presenting the report, Wilson Nyegenye, a principal statistician, at UBOS said children in the rural areas were engaged in child labour more than their urban compatriots.

“Most of the activities that employ child labour, such as agriculture, are in the rural areas,” Nyegenye said. About 42% of children in the rural areas were in employment, compared to the 17% in urban areas. 

At least 51% of the children in the central region and 40% in the western region were in employment indicating that the two regions had the highest level of child employment.

Addressing the media on the report, Andrew Mukulu, the director, population and social statistics said: “Overall, children with both parents dead were more involved in employment than their counterparts in other orphanhood statuses.”

Most of the child labour, Mukulu noted was employed in primary sector encompassing agriculture, forestry and fishing. 

This sector accounts for 93% of the child labour in Uganda.
A young boy cleans fishing net at a landing site like Masese

Kampala city emerged as the most notorious employer of child labour with 79% of city’s child workers engaged in the services industry.

Household chores, the study noted, also formed an integral part of the daily work of a Ugandan child with 65% of children engaged household chores.

However, girls were more likely to perform household chores than boys and more children in rural areas undertook household chores (66%) than their urban peers (58%).

According to Godfrey Nabonyo, the manager communications and public relations UBOS, the report is informed by the National Labour Force and Child Activities Survey 2013, the first national survey of its kind in Uganda.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Eastern Uganda Poorest Region in the Country
 Increased poverty levels are attributed to the
after effects of inflation which increased food prices. source: SOFA 2013.

The slow recovery of the economy from the effects of economic challenges suffered about two years ago forced 19 per cent of households in Uganda to slip into poverty, according to research.

This shows that eastern and northern regions of Uganda remain home to poverty. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) 2011/12 Uganda National Panel Survey report, 19 per cent of households that were in the non-poor bracket in the 2010/11 survey became poor.

The annual study uses the 2005/06 Uganda National Household Survey as the baseline and the findings are based on the household expenditure on food and non-food items. Although the rate represents a 1.2 percentage point drop from 20.2 per cent of the households that become poor in the previous survey, the general picture, however, points to an increase in poverty levels in the country. According to the report, the total number of non-poor households has reduced from 70.7 per cent in the 2010/11 to 67.8 per cent.

Although Mr James Muwonge, the director of socio-economic surveys in Ubos, said the body is yet to compile the general poverty figures, the trends in the economy point to an increase in general poverty levels  in the country

Needy Joyce, a pupil in primary sells sweet bananas
(Bogoya)  around Jinja Town to get School Fees.
This is attributed to the slow recovery of the economy from the after effects of the double-digit inflation that led to increases in commodity prices and commercial bank lending rates, constraining both production and consumption.

While presenting the survey findings yesterday, Mr Stephen Baryahirwa, a principal statistician in Ubos, Told SOFA food accounts for the highest share of household expenditure and thus the high food prices witnessed in the past two years resulted into an increase in household expenditure.

The report indicates that the proportion of incomes people spend on food increased to 52 per cent in 2011/12 from 51 per cent in 2010/11. The survey, which sampled 3,200 households, indicates the central region has the lowest number of chronically poor people at 3.7 per cent, while the western region has 15.8 per cent. While 19 per cent of the households slid into poverty, 35 per cent graduated from the poor to the non-poor bracket.
The rate of graduation was, however, lower than the 44.8 per cent witnessed in the previous year. Sixty-five per cent of households that were poor in 2010/11 remained poor throughout the year. Mr Kahirita Christopher, the chairperson of General Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions in Uganda, said drought could have forced families into poverty since most farmers are not insured as well as high unemployment levels among the youth.

In responce to this report SOFA has come up with project on how people them selves can curb this problem through enterprenuer skill.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

SOFA Volunteers and Internship Program 2013 - 2016

Winston Churchill once stated that "Uganda is the pearl of Africa" in reference to the country's striking natural beauty, climate, and variety of rich landscapes. Unfortunately, the country currently ranks as one of the 20 poorest nations in the world and 67% percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

This translates to a lack of basic infrastructure such as running water, electricity, waste management, health care, and education. Since 80 percent of employment is based in agriculture, mild climate changes have devastating effects, forcing many Ugandans deeper into poverty. Further compounding these development issues is HIV/AIDS, which to date infects one million citizens and has created three million orphans.

SOFA runs SOFA Volunteers and Internship Programs that are situated near the north (Jinja) and Far East (Kamuli) shores of Lake Kyoga. Jinja is the capital of the Jinja District (pop. 710,000) and the reputed "source of the Nile." The area is a popular destination for travelers due to its physical beauty and exceptional river rafting. The city itself (80 km from Kampala) is a major commercial and industrial center that is connected by rail to Mombasa, Kenya and the Indian Ocean.

Kamuli is also the regional capital of the Kamuli District (pop. 90,000) and 130 kilometers from Kampala. The town is an agricultural hub and important commercial center for the surrounding rich coffee growing area. Kamuli suffered greatly during the 1979 Civil War that overthrew Idi Amin, Obote later. Scars of the war are visible throughout the region, from destroyed buildings to constant reminders of poverty. However, the growing number of community-based organizations is making significant changes to Kamuli

SOFA works with several community-based establishments in Eastern Uganda to support sustainable development and provide opportunity for interns, volunteers, and donors to make a lasting impact at the community level.

Activities for International Volunteers and Interns

Micro Finance Program

Uganda is generally seen as the country with the most vibrant and successful microfinance industry in Africa. Some microfinance institutions (MFIs) have experienced strong growth and are now reaching a considerable number of clients, with three in particular serving between 25,000 and 45,000 clients. A series of impact studies conducted in Uganda in the past years have demonstrated that the provision of microfinance services contributes to reduced client vulnerability to economic risks; strengthened linkages of clients and their households to the agricultural sector; and the acquisition of highly needed skill sets.

SOFA works with several local organizations to provide training and economic opportunity to communities that lack sufficient resources. Working with interns, volunteers and donors, SOFA engages programs that:
  • Supply capacity-building sessions that address budgeting, accounting, microfinance, management, and other small business subjects. Initiatives aim at supporting information sharing and networking between microenterprise leaders and those looking to develop small business skills.
  • Establish effective microfinance models that allow local clients to obtain loans for startup businesses, develop business plans, incorporate savings strategies, and invest in long-term enterprise growth.
  • Form strategic alliances between organizations that research and implement best practices for microenterprise development. Programs aim at optimally distributing small business expertise and microfinance opportunities throughout local communities.
  • Develop microcredit opportunities and provide vocational and/or life skills training for young entrepreneurs in rural communities. Initiatives aim at empowering youth with the tools needed to engage in the local economy.
  • Link small-scale producers and micro-service providers with larger organizations to access financial services and business expertise.
  • Develop radio programs, talk shows, advertising, and public relation programs that promote pressing health, HIV/AIDS, and community development issues.
Environment Internship Program

Many of Uganda's natural ecosystems are undergoing conversion, degradation, and decline in a totally unplanned and uncontrolled manner. With the country's current population of 35 million set to double by 2020, these pressures may be insurmountable without sustainable action at both the national and community levels.
In response, interns, volunteers, and donors work with SOFA to provide support for programs and initiatives that:-

  • Provide community outreach and trainings in farming, crop rotation, livestock rearing, food production, and vocational skills. Programs aim at empowering local farmers and workers while enabling these individuals to generate sustainable incomes.
  • Create advocacy campaigns and increase community participation in proper sanitation practices, sustainable utilization of natural resources, and control of malaria and waterborne diseases. Initiatives shift environmental and health practices that affect everyday lives.
  • Advocate for policies, bylaws, and programs that enhance sustainable lake resource management (Lake Victoria).
  • Research and implement sustainable farming solutions and alternative income-generating activities that reflect environmentally sound principles.
  • Introduce environmental approaches to local communities, such as sustainable agriculture, organic demonstration gardens, fuel efficient stoves, water purification systems, and various agribusiness strategies.
  • Research ways to alleviate food shortages as well as conserve lake and land resources to enhance living standards and reduce human footprints.
Health & Care Internship Program

Healthcare provision and overall infrastructure in Uganda are chronically underfunded and highly variable in quality. The results are astounding. Uganda's infant mortality rate and life expectancy age are among the worst in the world. More than 50 percent of Ugandans have no access to clean water, while malaria and respiratory illnesses are widespread and are frequent causes of death. AIDS has claimed millions of households throughout Uganda and has reduced the life expectancy from 48 years in 1980 to 43 years in 1995.
SOFA works to address these pressing health issues in a variety of ways throughout the Jinja and Kamuli Districts. Interns, volunteers, and donors work together to:
  • Train local community workers and educate communities to raise awareness on common diseases, malaria, prevention, and other health-related issues.
  • Conduct village-to-village public health programs that administer basic medical care, tropical disease treatment, counseling, nutrition, and reproductive health care. Programs are run by local health clinics that are unreachable by most villagers.
  • Conduct follow-up assessments and research on the efficacy of subsidized mosquito net usage and the local treatment methods of malaria and other common diseases.
  • Provide medical treatment, care, and health education to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
  • Coordinate projects that improve hygiene and sanitation in communities through workshop implementation, distribution of hygienic products, and installation of pit latrines in homes.
  • Provide extensive technical and social resources to support community-based HIV initiatives for victims and their families.
  • Offer a variety of educational programs and counseling, and social support to patients on antiretroviral (ARV) medications and families affected by HIV.
  • Develop outreach programs that offer child health workshops in nutrition and preventative health maintenance.

Youths & Education Internship Program

Since Uganda instated Universal Primary Education (UPE) by removing primary school fees in 1996, enrollment has drastically increased, but many classrooms now have 200 pupils in one room with one teacher. Teachers are often forced to hold classes outdoors because of the lack of sufficient facilities, and many observers are skeptical about the relative quality of the education. Furthermore, there is still a large discrepancy in the education received by girls and boys.
In response to youth care and education needs throughout the Jinja and Kamuli Districts, SOFA interns, volunteers, and donors work with local organizations to:
  • Teach adult and youth literacy courses focused on vocational skills development and life skills training.
  • Engage youth in the creation of dance performances, theater, script writing, and choreography aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness and supporting HIV/AIDS-affected youth.
  • Facilitate workshops with local youth on reproductive health, effective communication, self-esteem building, and positive decision-making.
  • Create sports-related clubs and activities that engage youth in confidence building experiences.
  • Provide medical treatment, care, and health education to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
  • Research and network with local organizations to develop best practices for the care and education of orphans and vulnerable children.
  • Develop social and academic activities for local youth to reduce at-risk behavior, build self-esteem, and inspire a sense of vocational direction.
  • Provide life skills and vocational training, along with credit and savings opportunities for marginalized youth.

Gender and/or Women Empowerment Internship Program

Women of Uganda face a wide range of challenges including discrimination, low social status, lack of economic self sufficiency, and greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection. In Uganda, as in many African countries, gender discrimination means that women must submit to an overall lower social status than men. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, become educated, avoid poverty, and/or escape reliance upon abusive men.
SOFA joins efforts with several women's empowerment organizations to support local programs and initiatives that:
  • Provide training and sensitization for women's groups on management, financing, and enterprise development to increase independence and allow mothers to better support their families.
  • Create educational training materials on topics such as reproductive health, alternatives to high-risk behaviors, counseling, vocational skills, and self-esteem building.
  • Develop savings and microcredit opportunities to support the economic empowerment of women and discourage them from high-risk behaviors.
  • Organize media, theatre, and performing arts activities that promote the importance of good decision-making.
  • Offer free medical treatment to marginalized women and their families via field visits and rural clinics.
Women of Uganda face a wide range of challenges including discrimination, low social status, lack of economic self sufficiency, and greater risk of HIV/AIDS infection. In Uganda, as in many African countries, gender discrimination means that women must submit to an overall lower social status than men. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, become educated, avoid poverty, and/or escape reliance upon abusive men.
Many girls and young women become coerced into sex or can be obliged to trade sex for economic survival. It is common for girls to become sexually active at a much younger age than men, causing the rise of HIV/AIDS to become even more pronounced. Older men are breaking long-established social customs and choosing younger and younger girls to become their sexual partner in order to avoid catching HIV. In doing so, these men are in fact infecting them with HIV. In some districts, HIV prevalence among 13–19 year old girls is at least 10 times higher than in males of the same age.
Much development work in the Jinja and Kamuli Districts is geared towards promoting gender equality and relieving women of the hardships relating to their position in society. Along with these, SOFA trains women of all ages in job skills and microenterprise creation and development. Through these programs, women have the opportunity to acquire micro-loans and build their own business ventures, thus allowing for greater economic independence. Your work in supporting any of our empowerment programs will put you in direct contact with the challenging struggle to secure equality and opportunity for women.

Community Development Internship Program

Creating cohesion and empowerment amongst marginalized communities are essential to the well-being of Uganda. By offering many forms of trainings and opportunities for community engagement, SOFA is able to mobilize resources into local solutions. Working together at the community level throughout Jinja and Kamuli, SOFA supports programs and initiatives that:
  • Support the construction of primary schools, water systems, and sewage management. These infrastructure projects reflect community collaboration throughout the planning and building process.
  • Create and manage websites for local organizations to support information distribution and awareness building.
  • Train community members in areas of technical expertise and capacity building such as income-generating activities, life skills, nutrition, and youth development.
  • Expand and enhance workshops, group discussions, and stress relief activities that reduce community conflicts.
  • Conduct qualitative and quantitative research, including baseline studies, mid-project research, and impact studies of community-based construction projects.
  • Develop radio programs, talk shows, advertising, and public relation programs that promote pressing health, HIV/AIDS, and community development issues.

Small-scale agriculture is by far the most important sector of the Ugandan economy, particularly in rural areas. This creates a trade pattern of exports dominated by agricultural products and imports dominated by manufactured goods. The economy is heavily dependent on coffee, which accounts for around 55 percent of export earnings. Coffee prices, like those of most agricultural commodities, are extremely volatile, and growing coffee is incredibly sensitive to global climate conditions. Thus, many of the gains achieved through painfully negotiated debt relief may be almost wiped out by a fall in export earnings resulting from a decrease in the price of a single commodity or the shift in climate. Because of Uganda's dependence on agricultural commodities and its lack of diversification, the rural economy, not the urban economy, is the most important in terms of national wealth and individual well-being.

Members of the rural economy still rely almost entirely on their own and family labor; they collect water by hand, gather firewood by hand, dig by hand, and harvest by hand. Less than nine percent of the Ugandan population has regular access to electricity, and about 90 percent of Uganda's total energy requirements are met using firewood and charcoal. So much agricultural work carried out at a small scale by unpaid family workers means that a significant sector of the economy is classified as "non-monetary" or "informal." For many Ugandans, the concept of a "market" is a distant one, as their first priority is to meet their own immediate survival needs. The so-called "informal sector" now dominates the Ugandan economy, both in the number of people participating in informal work and the value this informal economic activity adds to the national economy.

Keeping communities’ physically healthy, encouraging resource sharing and building microeconomic opportunities are critical to removing rural poverty traps in Uganda. With HIV robbing Ugandan society of its most productive members, rural communities suffer without solution. The virus has built much superstition and fear into rural cultures, which is a problem that can only be solved by resources and education. SOFA works with development organizations that educate communities about the realities of HIV/AIDS and STDs, offer economic opportunity, and provide counseling to those in need. By offering many types of vocational trainings and gathering places for members to share ideas, SOFA puts interns and volunteers at the heart of communities to listen, learn, and deliver sustainable solutions.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


SOFA - Africa was founded in 2007 by three professional and developmentally oriented young men (Okocha Kasolo Alton, Tuliraba Atanansi and Hussein Muyonjo). Initially, the organization was formed to assist women and girls fight and advocate for their fundamental rights and improve their health and socio-economic status and lives using an integrated approach. Almost a year down the road however, the organization is trying to win and work with a cross-section of individuals and organizations at different stages, gender, educational level, faith, ethnicity, settings and professions, who share its vision and mission, justifying a participatory refocus this time around.
SOFA – Uganda ‘s mission is “A Uganda with healthy and empowered women and girls accessing quality, adequate and equitable sexual and reproductive health services at the same time seeing that our rights as Women and Girls are respected by state of Uganda” while our vision is “To contribute towards raising the level, Quality of Sexual & Reproductive Health Services and advocate for the rights of women and girls in Uganda through increasing access, advocacy, economic empowerment and working with other development actors”