An Alternative Care Initiative that has been launched in Buikwe district has received funding worth 350,000 Euros (about Ugx 1,297,166,043) from Terre de Hommes, a Netherlands based organization.
The initiative, Alternative Care Consortium on Systems Strengthening (ACCoSS), seeks to reintegrate children with their families and will be implemented in four districts in Uganda – Kayunga, Wakiso, Mukono and Buikwe as a way of sustaining existing alternative care systems at national level and will run from 2016 to 2018.
SOS Children’s Villages Uganda is taking the lead on the project, which was launched during the Alternative Care Initiative Project Meeting at Buikwe District Headquarters on August 4, 2016. The meeting was a scale up of the previous ‘Strong Beginnings’ Project that closed in December 2015 and was held to discuss alternative care for vulnerable children and to promote ideal options besides putting these children in institutions with the aim of reducing child exploitation and abuse.
Other stakeholders who were in attendance include officials from Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Child Health and Development Centre Makerere University (CHDC), School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences Makerere University and African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Uganda Chapter.
“Buikwe District was chosen as a result of the increased number of children falling into childcare institutions from this geographical catchment. We are adding our voice onto the national outcry for the increased and ever mushrooming care institutions in Uganda, of which Buikwe is one of the affected districts,” said Lillian Ssengooba, SOS Uganda’s National Programme Development Advisor.
Terre de Hommes, a Netherlands based organization has provided funding for the project worth 350,000 Euros (about Ugx 1,297,166,043). “These funds will enable families to take care of their children to avoid child-parent separations where children oftentimes end up in childcare institutions,” said Ronald Ssentuuwa, SOS Uganda’s Project Manager. “We expect that at least 400 households in Kayunga, Wakiso, Mukono and Buikwe will benefit from this project,” he added.
Uganda currently has over 660 childcare institutions, one of which is SOS Children’s Villages Uganda. However, of these, only 17 have been licensed to operate by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Over 40,000 children call these institutions home. 1.5 million children in Uganda remain abandoned and orphaned, while over 10,000 live on the streets.
Childcare institutions pose a threat to vulnerable children. When placed under this care, children often time suffer retardation in brain development, emotional stress, lack of family identity and disconnection of children from their communities. “We are hopeful that this project will provide solutions and see about 150 children being reintegrated back into their families,” remarked Ms. Ssengooba.