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Uganda
Community Health Alliance
Plot 19, Kagwa – Kawalya Close,
Kololo, Kampala
Phone : +256 393800644
michael.byamukama@repssi.org
Country Office Overview Activities Partners Media Center
 
Issues affecting children
Despite government and other development partner’s efforts on putting in place several legal and policy frameworks on the protection of children, the safety of children from abuse and exploitation remains a challenge. The 2015 National Survey on Violence against Children attests to this reality by pointing out Authority figure (persons in authority positions) as one of the categories of perpetrators of first incidence of sexual violence among children especially girls. Uganda has the second youngest population, with children accounting for about 56% of the total population, estimated at of 34.6 million people (UBOs 2015). Additionally, with a population growing rate of 3.2% (approximately six children per mother) in 2015, Uganda is ranked the third fastest-growing country in Africa and the fourth fastest-growing country in the world[1]. There is therefore an urgent need for the country to exploit the potential demographic dividends by prioritizing investments in the well-being of children. Child sexual abuse and marriage remain the greatest development challenge Uganda faces today and it increasingly becoming one of the most critical inter-generational dimension of poverty.

In Uganda, it is estimated that, over 90% of the children are vulnerable due various forms of deprivations and violence. For example, 55% (3.7 million) of children below five years and 38% (6 – 17 years), are deprived in at least two poverty dimensions (MoGLSD, 2011 and UBOS, 2014). The UNCRC defines the four dimensions of children’s rights as survival, education and development, protection and participation. Children in Uganda experience various forms of violence including child neglect, child sacrifice and trafficking, sexual abuse, child marriages, child labour and violence in schools like corporal punishment. Violation of children’s rights, account for the denial and deprivation of children’s fundamental human rights like education, adequate food and nutrition, access to health services, safety and participation. Uganda is ranked among the hot spots, with high rates of child sexual abuses and child marriages. UNICEF (2015) estimates that for every 10 girls, 5 are married off before the age of 18. According to the 2013, Uganda crime police report, defilement, as a sex related crime increased by 15.8% from 8,076 in 2012 to 9,589 in 2013.

Number of children reached by the country in 2016
Children & Youth Reached Female 234, 564
Male 159, 345
Total 393, 909
Policy and frameworks supporting children
Uganda has a Robust Legal and Policy Frame Work for children which has been in place for over two decades following the Ratification of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child ratified in 1990 and, The African Charter on their Rights and Welfare of the Child ratified in 1994, However, there are still many challenges in implementing the Legal and Policy frame work which have undermined the achievements made so far in the improvement of the wellbeing of children.

Overarching policy and legal frame work

1. UNCRC and its Optional Protocols
This provides for the global provisions which every member state must observe in providing for the rights of the children in the country.

1. AFCRWC

Provides for African member states to specifically provide for provisions which protect African children from unique cultural practices which are harmful to children.

1. The Constitution of Uganda,1995 as amended.

Specifically provides for care and protection of children

1. National Development Plan 2

Specifically considers investment in children as the first step in building a strong human capital to enable the country achieve its vision 2040.

The children Legal and Policy frame work is distributed mainly in four sectors including:

Social Development Sector Health Sector Education Sector Justice, Law and Order Sector Social Development Sector

Policies and Action plan

Social protection policy/action
Provision of comprehensive social protection services to address risks and vulnerabilities to reduce poverty and socio-economic inequalities for inclusive development by 2024.

The OVC policy and plan

provides for the survival, development, participation and protection of vulnerable children and obliges the Government to design appropriate interventions to achieve this.

Integrated early childhood policy and action plan

To ensure equitable access to quality and relevant ECD services for holistic development of all children from conception to 8 years

Child labor policy/action plan

To provide an enabling environment for the prevention, protection and elimination of child labor and to establish guiding principles in Uganda’s efforts to eliminate child labor and priorities for government and other stake holders.

Alternative Care Frame Work/Action plan.

Puts in place functional child protection systems that provide care and protection to all children including those deprived of parental care. Provides a National framework for delivering and facilitating access to appropriate alternative care options for children deprived of parental care

The National Strategy to End Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy (2014/14-2019/20)

To promote an enabling environment to end child marriage and teenage pregnancies by strengthening child protection Mechanisms and enforcement of relevant legislation.

The National child helpline as provided for by the Children (Amendment) Act,2016 providing for mechanism to report child abuse and providing immediate response.

Laws

The Children Act, Cap59

The Children’s Act Cap 59 provides the overarching legal framework for childcare and protection in Uganda. The Act draws heavily from provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

The Children(Amendment) Act,2016

Enhances the protection of children; strengthens the provision for guardianship of children; strengthens the conditions for intercountry adoption; prohibits corporal punishment; provides for the National Children Authority; repeals the National Council for Children Act; and provides for other related matters

The Probation Act

Provides for the establishment of probation services for children and adults placed on probation and provides for the probation officer to support children in conflict with the law and those in need of care and protection.

The Domestic Violence Act

To provide for the protection and relief of victims of domestic violence; to provide for the punishment of perpetrators of domestic violence; to provide for the procedures and guidelines to be followed by the court in relation to the protection and compensation of the victims of domestic violence; to provide for the jurisdiction of the court; to provide for the enforcement of orders made by the court and to empower the family and children’s e court to handle cases of domestic violence and for related matters.

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2010)

To provide for the prohibition of female genital mutilation, the offences, prosecution and punishment of offenders and the protection of victims as well as girls and women under threat of female genital mutilation and to provide for other related matters.

Health Sector

1. The Second National Health Policy (2010)
To provide the highest possible level of health services to all people in Uganda through delivery of promotive, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative health services at all levels

1. National Adolescent Health Policy

To mainstream adolescent health concerns in the national development process in order to improve the quality of life, participation and standard of living of young people.

1. Uganda Food and Nutrition Policy

To ensure food security and adequate nutrition for all the people in Uganda, for their health as well as their social and economic well-being

1. National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2,2015/2016 – 2019/2020

healthy and productive population free of HIV and AIDS and its effects Although the sector has no specific laws directly providing for children, there are responsibilities implied in the main Laws which have provisions for children including: The children Act Cap 59 providing for ensuring the survival of children through immunization against killer diseases, promoting a clean and safe environment for children etc The children (Amendment) Act,2016 provides for the obligation of the sector to report any infliction of harm on a child through violence, any violation of rights that result in emotional and physical harm

Education sector

1. Education Act (2008)
Amended, consolidated and stream lined the existing laws relating to the development and regulation of education and training, repealed the Education Act and provided for other related matters. Increases and improves equitable access to quality primary education.

1. Universal Primary education policy,1993

Provides for free primary education for all children

1. c) Universal Secondary Education Policy (2007)

Provides for free education for secondary education

d)The National strategic plan against children abuse in schools and communities

Promotes the prevention and elimination of violence against children in schools

The Ministry of Education is responsible for;

ensuring a safe and clean environment in schools and any places of learning for children (children Act CAP 59 as Amended,2016) ensuring a violence free school environment and child friendly methods of teaching as provided for by the Children’s Act Cap 59 and the Children (Amendment) Act, 2016 Prohibition of corporal punishment in schools and promotion of alternatives to corporal punishment in schools (The children (amendment) Act,2016)

Justice, law and order sector

1. The Prisons Act,2006
Specifies rights with regard to children (under 18 months) of imprisoned mothers.

1. The Uganda People’s Defense Act ,2005

Prohibits persons under 18 from enrolling in the army.

1. The police (Amendment) Act,2006

A police officer can arrest any person in order to prevent harm or undue suffering of a child.

1. The Births and Deaths Registration Act, (1973)

All children birth and death must be registered and certificates issued.

1. The Penal Code act ,1950

Provided for prosecution of all parents, care givers and guardians abusing and/ neglecting children under their responsibility.

1. The Trafficking in Persons Act

To provide for the prohibition of trafficking in persons, creation of offences, prosecution and punishment of offenders, prevention of the vice of trafficking in persons, protection of victims of trafficking in persons, and other related matters The sector is responsible for:
  1. This sector is also responsible for ensuring the protection of the rights of children in contact with the law:
  2. Ensure children are not detained with adults
  3. Children are not incarcerated in adult prisons,
  4. Children are not involved in armed combat
  5. All trials involving children are not delayed, free, air and only rehabilitative orders are given.
  6. No children are sentenced to death in case they have been found guilty of capital offences.
  7. Establishing child friendly procedures, mechanism and solutions in the juvenile justice system
  8. Ensure that the best interest of the child is paramount in determining custody, parentage, alternative care including foster care, guardianship, adoption and sentencing.
Role of Local Governments
All Local government councils must safeguard and promote the welfare of all children, paying particular attention to children with disabilities and other vulnerable children as provided for in the Local Government Act,1997 as amended and Children Act, CAP59 Each local government council must have a Secretary for Children’s Affairs Each local government is obliged to mainstream children concerns in their strategic plans and prioritize their care and protection. They have a responsibility of ensuring that families have the capacity to provide for their children needs The Policies and Laws are scattered across sectors and require a lot of coordination in implementation for there to be a harmonized approach in implementing the provisions for the improved child wellbeing. The Uganda policy and legal frame work in place is so far very strong and if implementation and coordinated well and more investment is made in implementation of the framework, it will increase success in the improvement of the child wellbeing in Uganda and in turn it will enhance the country’s socio economic development. [1] Uganda Government, USAID, et al, 2015, Our Children, Our Future: Ensuring Child Well-Being in Uganda; A call to Action
In-country HR capacity
Country Facilitators 10
Mentors Coordinator 1
Country Representative 1