Uganda: Hope Beyond Borders
BACKGROUND AND Project Context
Over 900'000 people from South Sudan have fled to neighbouring Uganda in recent years, mainly due to the civil war in their home country and the ongoing security crisis. The refugee settlement of Kiryandongo, in northern Uganda, is home to 70'000 of these refugees. More than half of them are children and young people under the age of 18. Due to the difficult conditions in the settlement, some of the refugees are malnourished and there is a lot of sexual violence. In addition, there are frequent clashes between different ethnic groups. The Horyzon project supports and promotes the young people on two different levels: psychosocially and economically. Young people affected by violence can attend therapies. There they learn strategies to overcome trauma. Young people have the opportunity to train as lay counsellors and thus provide psychosocial support to other victims. In accompanied youth groups, they are informed about taboo topics such as contraception, menstruation and sexuality, and they can talk about them. The young people can also acquire new knowledge in the financial field. They are trained in the topic of professional self-employment and can then submit a business idea to obtain start-up capital for their own small business.
Thanks to the support in the psychosocial and economic areas, the young refugees have a chance to develop independently. This gives them a perspective for the future and enables them to actively participate in promoting peace and justice in the refugee settlement. The young people learn what can lead to conflicts and how they can influence them so that disputes are resolved on the level of communication instead of violence.
The project targets particularly marginalised areas in the refugee settlements of Kiryandongo and Adjumani. The target group consists of 70% South Sudanese refugees and 30% people from Ugandan host communities who need psychosocial or livelihood support. 60% of the target group are young people between the ages of 16 and 30, 60% are female and 5% are people with disabilities.
In total, around 800 people benefit directly through participation in the project's activities, and around 1'200 more people are reached indirectly, e.g. through awareness-raising campaigns.
The long-term objective of the project is to provide refugee youth with knowledge and skills so that they can actively engage in promoting justice and peace in both Uganda and South Sudan. The goal is pursued at three levels of impact: at an individual level (micro level), at the community level (meso level) and at a political level (macro level).
Activities and Effects
The project is divided into one project component per level. Impacts and activities are defined per component:
Young people have coping strategies to deal with individual and societal challenges (micro-level)
Young people are actively engaged in their local communities (meso level)
Young people are engaged in political advocacy and decision-making (macro-level)
YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE COPING STRATEGIES
- Victims of violence receive psychosocial support and learn strategies to cope with their traumas. Particularly severe cases are referred to specialised institutions and receive legal support and representation in court.
- Refugees and local Ugandan residents are trained as lay counsellors who provide psychosocial support.
- Through participation in safe space groups, young people have a safe place to discuss taboo topics such as menstruation, puberty and contraception, and receive information about their sexuality and reproductive health.
- Young people join together to form savings communities and improve their financial literacy and English skills.
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
- Young people participate in trainings where they learn peacebuilding techniques and skills. In peace groups, narratives on ethnic differences, gender inequality and acts of revenge are discussed and processed into film, plays or songs.
- Youth learn in advocacy trainings how to conduct awareness campaigns in their communities that address issues such as forced marriages.
- Through the targeted training of local journalists and radio programmes, the young refugees receive improved access to information and at the same time Ugandan society is sensitised to the concerns of refugees.
ADOLESCENTS TAKE PART IN POLITICS
- Dialogue platforms are organised and carried out in which young people can discuss their concerns with decision-makers in order to initiate political change processes (e.g. adaptation of laws or regulations to better protect the rights of refugees).
- Young people participate in local, national and international symposia to advocate for the inclusion of young refugees.
Young people have coping strategies
- 628 people received personal psychosocial counselling. A total of 269 people were assessed with extreme psychosocial problems and referred to partner organisations for specialised support.
- 110 adolescents attended regular weekly meetings in a safe place to discuss and be educated on taboo topics such as menstruation, puberty and contraception. They are thus better aware of their health rights.
Youth actively engaged in their communities
- 52 youth participated in advocacy training with a focus on UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. They learned how to advocate for these issues and their concerns and those of their community with policy makers. In addition, action plans were developed which later served as the basis for the implementation of youth-led community advocacy campaigns and awareness-raising on sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence among refugees.
- 6 groups of peacemakers inside and outside Kiryandongo refugee settlement were established with a total of 243 (73 female and 170 male) youth. The peacemakers were trained in advocacy, peace building and conflict resolution as well as conflict analysis and documentation. The groups were supported to conduct social change campaigns, drawing on the action plan and skills acquired during the training.
- 1'2000 listeners from the refugee settlement and nearby areas were informed about a local radio talk show on early marriage and physical, as well as psychological child abuse by YGlobal experts.
- Young people have the necessary knowledge on how to voice their interests and concerns publicly and at local political platforms.
- The young people are actively involved in sensitising community members to their concerns and take on active roles in the community that benefit it.
Adolescents participate politically
- Youth, who make up 30% of the refugee population in Kiryandongo, are directly involved in official dialogues on policy measures and can thus place their concerns that affect their lives and the peaceful coexistence of refugees.
- With the support of YGlobal Uganda, a youth-led policy dialogue forum was organised with local government representatives. The dialogue adopted several policy recommendations, including the development of a local regulation to protect refugees from exploitation by members of the communities, especially when they lease land for cultivation. The policy makers also agreed to explore simplified access for refugee youth to local government funding.
Young people have coping strategies
- 1,500 individuals received psychosocial support.
- Under the "Let Girls Talk" initiative and the corresponding "Let Boys Talk" initiative, 80 girls and boys in Uganda received mentoring on sexual and reproductive health and rights and basic life skills.
- A counseling center was built where psychosocial counseling, among other services, can be provided.
- The adolescents were given a safe place to discuss and be educated on taboo topics such as menstruation, puberty and contraception. As a result, they are more knowledgeable about their health rights.
- Adolescents have better coping mechanisms.
- The construction of the counseling center has improved the quality of psychosocial counseling because it is closer to beneficiaries and provides more privacy for counseling sessions.
Young people actively engaged in their communities
- Twenty adolescents participated in advocacy training.
- Up to 1,000 listeners from the refugee settlement and nearby areas were informed by YGlobal experts about the local radio talk show on early marriage and physical, as well as psychological child abuse.
- Participants launched and led an initiative for good hygiene management to prevent infection of the population with contagious diseases such as cholera and diarrhea, as well as covid-19.
- Adolescents have the necessary knowledge on how to voice their interests and concerns publicly and at local political platforms.
- Adolescents actively participate in making community members aware of their concerns and take active roles in the community that benefit it.
Adolescents participate politically
- Through the advocacy efforts of youth from YGlobal Uganda, a law was ratified whereby young people are now elected to the board of the Refugee Welfare Committee in Kiryandongo, allowing them to voice their concerns at the political level.
- Adolescents, who make up 30% of the refugee population in Kiryandongo, are directly involved in the official dialogues on policy measures and can thus place their concerns that affect their lives and the peaceful coexistence of the refugees.