Together with YGlobal Uganda, Horyzon empowers South Sudanese youth in Kiryandongo refugee camp to work for peace and justice in Uganda and South Sudan.
BACKGROUND AND PROGRAMME ENVIRONMENT
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese* were forced to leave their country following the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December 2013 and the ensuing violence in the years that followed. As of August 2019, 842,000 refugees from South Sudan were living in Uganda. Kiryandongo is the oldest refugee camp and hosts about 70,000 refugees. The gaps in available services in Kiryandongo are large, as most development agencies have shifted to newer refugee camps to respond to more recent humanitarian crises. The high number of refugees has overwhelmed the capacity of national structures for refugees and host communities, leading to regular outbreaks of violence in the camps.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the related lockdown and control measures have further disrupted social structures and exacerbated the economic situation for refugees and host communities. In addition, the number of forced marriages, teenage pregnancies and cases of domestic violence have increased sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. As the pandemic has led to a strong increase in mental health problems among the youth, there is an urgent need for psychosocial support and counseling for the youth to help them recover from the traumatic effects of the pandemic. After schools in Uganda were closed for several months due to the pandemic, it is now of urgent importance to support children and young people in their reintegration into the school system.
In Kiryandongo, women and children make up 85% of the total refugee population, while children under 18 make up 63%. Although enrolment in kindergarten and primary schools is high, drop-out rates are equally high and only 19% of refugee children move on to secondary school. Many children have had to transition into adulthood far too early to care for their siblings and the elderly. The high number of child-headed households shows serious implications for children's well-being, as they are exposed to hunger and malnutrition, school drop-out and sexual exploitation (especially young girls). These difficulties therefore also reduce the possibility of healing from conflict-related trauma.
The project targets particularly marginalised areas in Kiryandongo Refugee Camp and applies vulnerability criteria such as youth without school-leaving qualifications, poorly qualified workers, the unemployed and youth with impairments. The target group consists of 70% South Sudanese refugees and 30% people from Ugandan host communities. 80% of the target group are young people between 16 and 30 years of age. 60% of the participating youth are female. 5% of the total target group are youth with disabilities. Other participants include adults (mainly women) in need of psychosocial and livelihood support, as well as children participating in therapy to increase enrolment and retention in kindergartens and primary schools. To improve service delivery, the programme will also provide training for government-appointed leaders at district level, e.g. on gender equality and human rights.
A total of 15 youth will be trained as peacebuilders who will conduct peace campaigns in their communities. Around 600 community members are reached through the campaigns. 300 youth receive psychosocial support to deal with trauma and improve mental health.
The overall objective is to empower youth to participate in promoting peace and justice both in their host country (Uganda) and in their country of origin (South Sudan). This is made possible through the provision of psychosocial support and sexual and reproductive health services. In addition, the youth will be trained as activists for peace and political platforms for youth will be created. Through this, the programme will also reach out to a broader movement of youth, thus strengthening the role and agency of young women in advocating for peace, justice and conflict resolution. Additionally, the program builds resilience in youth and helps them overcome the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Young people have coping strategies
- Victims of violence receive psychosocial support and learn strategies to cope with their traumas.
- In counselling centres, young people find a safe place and get access to information in the areas of sexuality and reproductive health.
- Young people join together in peacemaker groups and are trained in topics such as peacebuilding, human rights, gender equality, etc.
- Survivors of violence are able to reintegrate into society.
- Youth have improved their knowledge in peacebuilding, human rights, gender equality, etc.
Young people as agents of change
- Youth participate in advocacy trainings and learn leadership skills and methods of political advocacy through youth activism.
- Youth run a youth campaign for greater peace and justice in their community.
- Youth who have dropped out of school are supported to re-enrol in school and attend regularly.
- Youth develop into leaders in their communities and advocate for greater peace and justice.
Young people participate politically
- Young people engage in dialogue with policy makers.
- Youth raise their voices against economic, social and political inequalities to decision-makers and are involved in policy-making.
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.