We embarked on a 3 days visit to Kitgum district in the Northern part of Uganda. The visit was intended to access the situation in Kitgum, actors on the ground, and what they are doing. We also took the opportunity to visit our member organisation Northern Uganda Women and Children Initiative (NUWECI) and access the work they are doing.
Initially just after the Lord’s Resistance war, there were many national and international NGOs working in the region especially providing humanitarian services as well as rehabilitation for returnees. Most of such organisations have since left. The local organisations visited were also formed to respond to the effects of the war notably rehabilitation for formally abducted children and economically empowering women who had lost their homes. We were amazed at how much the women were striving to sustain their families. Most of the groups engage in poultry, beekeeping, mushroom growing, tree planting, knitting and packaging.
Discussions revealed most of the homes are women headed and contribute most to the well being of the family. One of the international organisations spoken to that focuses on child protection pointed out that there are also many child headed homed whose parents died during the war. Key concerns identified were land grabbing and ownership of land especially for women which was suggested is a big potential for triggering violence, child neglect by men, child marriages, high rate of unemployment among the youth in Kitgum town who end up abusing drugs and domestic violence involving both men and women
It was observed that little is being done on awareness raising and training on violence against women in addition to engaging more with men in violence against women and this is something SIHA would be keen on following up.