MOROTO – In bid to tackle rising teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Karamoja region, BRAC with funding from UNFPA has trained 62 new adolescent mentors.
According to UNFPA these are meant for Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) clubs to take a leading role in providing SRHR information to their peers in Karamoja sub-region.
The mentors from the six selected districts of Abim, Amudat, Moroto, Kaboong, Napak and Nakapiripirit will each reach and teach 25 girls on basic life skills to end forced and early pregnancies and marriages, Gender Based Violence and increased access to Sexual Reproductive Health information and services, as well as financial literacy to empower the adolescent to achieve their dreams.
Ms Pamela Alanyo, Programme Officer at BRAC, Moroto said the role models were picked from the community and underwent five days skills training at the various sub counties and orientating them on the importance of eradication of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the society.
She explained that the ELA club targets vulnerable adolescent girls, aged 14-24 who have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy, child marriage, or inability to afford school-fees.
“The project focuses on improving the quality of life of vulnerable adolescents by organizing them and creating safe spaces of their own and developing a set of skills so that they can live and grow as confident, empowered and self-reliant individuals contributing to change in their own families and communities,” says Pamela Alanyo, Programme Officer at BRAC, Moroto.
Although the legal age of marriage in Uganda is 18, the law is rarely enforced and local traditions often override the law – especially in rural areas.
And in parts of Karamoja, one of the most impoverished regions of Uganda, half of girls are married off while they are still a child.
With funding from the Austrian Development Agency, UNFPA works in partnership with BRAC to ensure ELA clubs are safe spaces for young girls to access life skills education; SRH health education; financial literacy training; within a supportive social space that promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment, as endorsed by parents, local, cultural, religious and political leaders.
In 2020, a total of 300 clubs were formed and supported to undergo life skills training to end forced and early pregnancies and marriages, GBV and increased access to SRH information and services to adolescent girls and boys.
“The focus is to make sure that they [girls] are given much information around SRH so that they are able to make choices and decisions about their lives, their bodies and livelihoods,” said Ms Patricia Nangiro, in charge of UNFPA’s Moroto office.
“We hope that with this empowerment and livelihood training, we shall be able to at least contribute to reduction in teenage pregnancies, ending child marriages and increasing access to adolescent reproductive health services,” she added.
Armed with her newly acquired skills after the five days of ELA mentors training at Morulem Sub County in Abim district, 20-year-old Palma Amua vowed to help adolescent girls achieve their dreams.
“I am going to educate and sensitize the community to stop child marriages, violence against children, domestic violence, GBV and teenage pregnancies,” said Amua, a resident of Aremo parish.
“I will teach them about staying safe, providing SRH information and how to access commodities, make referrals and financial literacy to empower adolescent girls to achieve their dreams,” she said.
In 2020, some 11,000 vulnerable girls were reached in the six targeted districts of Abim, Amudat, Moroto, Kaboong, Napak, and Nakapiripirit with SRH information and services, in addition to livelihood skills.