The 25 million Euros project (approximately 100 billion Shillings) was being implemented in the 14 districts of the West Nile and Acholi Sub-region benefiting both the host and South Sudan refugee population.
The United Nations Population
Fund (UNFPA) has committed to continue its support towards Uganda's Sexual and Reproductive
Health and Rights (SRHR) for women, and girls including disadvantaged and
vulnerable populations. UNFPA, with funding from the
Netherlands Embassy, has been implementing a four-year program dubbed Advancing
Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (ANSWER) with the main aim of contributing
to the achievement of universal access to SRHR.
The 25 million Euros project (approximately
100 billion Shillings) was being implemented in the 14 districts of the West
Nile and Acholi Sub-region benefiting both the host and South Sudan refugee population. With the program now coming to
an end, Daniel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Representative says the West Nile and
Acholi Sub-regions remain an area of focus for UNFPA and will continue receiving
This he says is due to the high number of teenage pregnancy cases registered
as highlighted in the country’s demographic and health survey report 2022. Alemu was speaking at the
close-out meeting of the four-year ANSWER project in Gulu City on Tuesday,
where several governmental and non-governmental partners converged to review
the success of the project.
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He says the project registered a
number of key successes citing the ability to hold engagements with cultural
leaders in addressing challenges young people face especially early child marriages,
teen pregnancies, and female genital mutilation in the region.
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At least 429 teen mothers throughout
the project implementation were able to return to school and a significant
reduction of school absenteeism due to menstrual Health monitoring interventions
was reduced according to UNFPA officials.
Joost Van Ettro, Deputy Head of
Mission at the Netherlands Embassy however says while the project comes to an
end with key achievements in strengthening the health system in the region, attention
to curbing teenage pregnancy needs to be heightened. Ettro says there is a need to
have honest discussions about sex, though it’s a sensitive subject in the
country and particularly this region in a bid to find out why the vice is
persisting so that it's addressed.
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UNFPA report on teenage pregnancy
in 2021 indicates that West Nile was among the top six regions that registered the
highest numbers of teenage pregnancies, with the most affected districts being
Arua (4,705 cases) and Yumbe (3,973 cases). Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director of
Curative Services at the Ministry of Health acknowledges that indicators still reveal
the area of teenage pregnancies hasn’t been doing well but noted that the
government along with partners is working to address it. Dr. Olaro says approximately
600,000 teenage pregnancy cases are registered across the country annually and
notes that the girls are unable to achieve their full potential in life.
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Beneficiaries of the ANSWER
project have however lauded the initiative for helping to strengthen their
confidence in tackling sexual and reproductive health issues. Beatrice Dorah Ajok, 18, a
student at Lwani Memorial College in Amuru district says she joined the program
under ANSWER in 2022. She says through the mentorship program, she has been
able to learn how to speak with confidence about sexual reproductive issues, make
her own sanitary pads, and give advice to her fellow peers.
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Sharon Akumu, another student
from Pabbo Senior Secondary School also in Amuru district says the mentorship
program has helped her to avoid peer pressure of engaging in sex and motivated
her to consider education first.
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According to UNFPA, the ANSWER
project by the end of 2022 had reached out to about 1.5 million populations in
the Acholi and West Nile region with information on sexual and reproductive health
rights and benefited some 959,000 people in 210 supported facilities.