2015 marks the halfway point for the Realizing Livelihoods Improvement through Savings and Education (REALISE) Project in Uganda, and it is on track to meet the established goals: providing children and families from over 18,000 households in tobacco-growing communities with reliable access to:
- Basic services,
- Quality education
- Sustainable ways to generate income and meet their diverse needs
The REALISE Project runs from 2013 until 2016 in the Hoima District in Uganda, where almost 13% of households grow tobacco and 8,000 children have been identified as being affected by child labour. The ECLT Foundation and its partner organization, the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), seek broad engagement, working with tobacco and other agricultural companies, national and local government officials, and of course the communities themselves, for sustainable impact. By doing so, the REALISE Project will reach 55,000 people through services for children and their families.
This year, the REALISE Project team has conducted a midterm assessment of the project to take stock of the progress already made, see what is going well, and identify how to improve where needed.
How are things progressing?
Based on desk research, in-depth interviews, and site visits, the assessment shows that the REALISE Project is well on the way to meet or beat expected results by 2016. The project addresses child labour in tobacco growing in a variety of tangible ways, which are in line with Uganda’s National Action Plan. These include making sure children have access to quality education, vocational training, and basic services; encouraging the creation of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) for communities to grow economically; and providing specialized support services for children withdrawn from child labour.
Success highlights from the assessment include:
Education and training
- Local school authorities have reported that there is higher enrolment at the 14 targeted schools because of the REALISE Project. The community is already three-fourths of the way toward the goal enrolment of 5,700 children.
- The attendance rate of children from tobacco-growing households went from 77% in 2012 to 85% in 2014 – double the increase seen in children not from tobacco-growing households.
- 240 former child labourers did vocational training, learning skills like sewing and model farming, and 180 children and youth were matched up with local artisans as apprentices. The REALISE Project continues to work to ensure that these children do not fall back into hazardous work situations.
Services and support
- Better water, sanitation, and infrastructure – like classroom floors, toilets, and wells – have been used by over 5,800 children, already exceeding the goal for the end of 2016.
- Parents, teachers, and students have been trained on child labour and how to support children who are withdrawn from it. Over 80% of the training goals have been met and peer-to-peer counselling sessions have begun.
Strengthening household livelihoods
- 376 VSLA groups have been formed and have held start-up meetings specifically for households with child labourers. This is almost 65% of our target for 2016.
- The VSLA groups have over 11,000 members. About 7,000 have been trained and have already started sustainable income-generation activities such as poultry, animal rearing, and bee keeping.
- More than 375 “Community-based Trainers” have received trainings to support their VSLA groups, and almost 7,000 parents and caregivers have been trained on life skills, like nutrition, hygiene, health, and family finance.
The midterm assessment has also highlighted some key areas to strengthen to ensure that the REALISE Project will be as successful as possible:
Continued multi-stakeholder engagement. Moving forward, the REALISE Project looks to intensify involvement of tobacco companies and other agricultural sectors, like corn, rice, and beans, as well as government leaders at all levels, from national to villages. Having a consistently coordinated approach allows for maximum efficiency, impact, and sustainability of the efforts to decrease child labour in agriculture in general.
Building capacities further. The assessment has shown the need for more training on the ground, so that members of tobacco-growing communities become leaders and trainers in their own right.
- For the Village Savings and Loans Associations, more Community-based Trainers will be given the skills to help the other group members successfully use and repay their loans.
- Local Child Protection Communities (CPC) will be offered strategic guidance to develop concrete goals. Bicycles will be provided for CPCs so that they can easily move around communities that are spread out.
- Further support will be given to parents of children benefiting from the REALISE Program to raise awareness about the negative effects of child labour and strengthen parenting skills.
Find out more:
WATCH the video on how the REALISE works with children and families in tobacco-growing communities in Uganda.