COVID-19 Emergency Intervention
John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre with the support of Diocese of Rottenburg Stuttgart have made an effort to intervene in the tackling of the spread of the deadly COVID-19 in Bidibidi and Imvepi settlements including their host communities. As a country, Uganda has rapidly registered thousands of cases with the health system getting overwhelmed. Generally the situation in the country is precarious as the government and all other stakeholders are doing their best to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Governments across Africa are rushing to reinforce measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, fearing that fragile health systems will be swiftly overwhelmed if the disease spreads beyond a small number of cases on the continent. As the government of Uganda and key Stakeholders continue to raise awareness on the spread of COVID -19, the perception of the population about the disease is still mixed up with some taking it to be the disease of the old, others taking that Africans are immune, others believe the virus can’t survive in hot weather. Again one key factor of preventive measures namely; social distancing, hand wash and others are still a big challenge to the population.
The population also continues to move from one place to another including the refugees in the settlement who travel back and forth from South Sudan with little restrictions which brings fear that they can easily import the COVID-19 into the settlement. South Sudan has already registered numerous confirmed cases of the disease. The settlements are more vulnerable because of being heavily congested. Therefore an outbreak of COVID-19 would be very devastating to the refugees and host community. Moreover the information about COVID-19 to the refugees is highly limited. Consequently, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UNHCR has called upon all the partners to join hands in supporting sensitization of the refugees and the host community on COVID-19. Therefore, JPIIJPC, has taken the initiative to join hands with partners in the sensitization campaign and distribution of hygienic supplies as preventive measure in the two settlements where it is implementing its Peace Building projects.
Overall Objective of the intervention was to sensitize and disseminate information on COVID-19 to the South Sudan Refugees and Host Communities in Imvepi and Bidibidi settlement as well as distribute hygienic supplies for preventive measure.
Specific Objectives was:
- To create awareness on prevention of COVID-19 to refugees and host community in Imvepi and Bidibidi settlements.
- To massively circulate IEC materials on prevention of COVID-19 to the targeted settlement community.
- To purchase and distribute hygienic supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the refugees and host communities.
- To assess the impact of COVID-19 on the refugees and host community in Imvepi and Bidibidi settlements.
To create awareness on prevention of COVID-19 to refugees and host community in Imvepi and Bidibidi settlements JPIIJPC did the following;
- Held 10 stakeholders’ planning meetings on prevention of COVID-19.
- Held 20 radio talk shows to create awareness on COVID-19 prevention
- Conducted 20 settlement road drive public message on prevention of COCID-19
To massively circulate IEC materials on prevention of COVID-19 to the targeted settlement community the commission executed the following activities;
- Printed IEC materials (1,000 Flyers, 2,000 Stickers, 100 T/shirts, and 5 Banners).
- Hired 3 Translators to translate the IEC materials in 3 languages (Arabic, Kakwa and Lugbara)
- Hired 58 community volunteers for IEC material distribution
To purchase and distribute hygienic supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the refugees and host communities the organization did the following;
- Purchased hygienic supplies (1,000 bottles of sanitizers, 1,000 bottles of liquid soap and 500 water containers).
- Distributed the hygienic supplies.
To assess the impact of COVID-19 on the refugees and host community in Imvepi and Bidibidi settlements, JPIIJPC;
- Documented the impact of COVID-19 on the refugees and the host community and
- Disseminated the findings to all stakeholders
Implementation: The project was implemented with key stakeholders namely: UNHCR, OPM, CSOs, Local government officials, cultural leaders, Religious leaders, Community Peace Animators/Community volunteers and Refugee Welfare Committees. These are partners who are already working in the settlement and have been earmarked by OPM and UNHCR to carry out sensitization in the refugee settlements.
Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries of this project were both the refugees and the host community who were sensitized on the prevention of COVID-19 and provided with hygiene facilities as preventive measures.
Outcome of the project: The project achieved the following outcomes;
-Increased awareness of COVID-19 among the refugees and host community in Imvepi and Bidibidi refugee settlements.
-There is behavioral change among the refugees and host communities on practices which could lead to the spread of COVID-19.
-Reduced risk of importation of COVID-19 from South Sudan to the refugee settlements and host communities.
-The intervention is reduced the spread of COVID-19 in Imvepi and Bidibidi refugee settlements and host community.
Although a number of interventions against the Pandemic have been made by numerous stakeholders in the refugee settlements and host communities, a lot still needs to be done to ensure the virus spread is suppressed and its impact on the different spheres of life is controlled.
John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre (JPIIJPC) with support from BISCHOFLICHES ORDINARIAT has signed a memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Uganda, Office of the Prime Minister to implement a project named: Promotion of Social Cohesion among the South Sudan Refugees and the Hosting Communities in Imvepi and Bidibidi Refugee Settlements. This project will run for one year (January – December 2020)
Overall goal: To promote harmonious living among the refugees and with the host community by alleviating negative sentiments among them; and empowering the youth and women in the camps and host communities in peace building.
- To build the capacity of peace committees, camp leaders, youth leaders and women leaders in peace building
- To conduct community peace education in transforming the mindsets that promotes conflict, division and war
- To engineer the generation and documentation of pro peace and reconciliation films, music, dance and drama
JPIIJPC conducted Inception meeting with the development partners in Imvepi Refugee Settlement, Arua District in January 2020. This meeting was meant to introduce JPIIJPC to the partners working in Imvepi and to appreciate the programmes implemented by partners for easy coordination by OPM and UNHCR.
Those present in the meeting included: Mr. Arintege Basikania, OPM Camp Commandant, Mr. Asio William Assistant Camp Commandant Zone 1 (where JPIIJPC is implementing its activities). Other partners were: UNHCR, World Vision, A-Z Children Charity, Child Voice, War child Holland, Windle Trust for Education and Parish Priest, Lugbari Catholic Parish and JPIIJPC staff.
Peace Building Trainings
JPIIJPC trained camp leaders, women leaders, youth leaders and peace committees on Peace building in January and February 2020 in Imvepi refugee settlement, Arua District. The aim was to make them understand peace building and their roles in peace building initiatives; appreciate peaceful co-existence between the refugees and the host communities; and share their challenges in peace building in the community.
Meeting with UNHCR and OPM
On 19th February 2020, JPIIJPC held a meeting with the UNHCR and OPM staff to begin its activities in Bidibidi refugee settlement. JPIIJPC staff also attended inter-agency Settlement Protection Sector working group meeting with the development partners working in Bidibidi refugee settlement where they were introduced as a new partner. JPIIJPC is set to start implementing its activities in Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district.
Despite the government of Uganda putting in place an array of impressive policies, strategies and institutions to ensure transparent and accountable use of public resources and delivery of public services, there still exist a number of challenges for citizens to realize full enjoyment of their rights. In this respect, between 2015 – 2018 JPIIJPC, will advocate for improved rights of women to maternal health services, secondly, work in partnership with other CSOs to influence policies in the areas of Universal Primary Education (UPE) for better performance of pupils and thirdly, build the capacity of youth to become self-reliant and productive to their communities where they live. JPIIJPC will also lobby and advocate on key emerging human rights issues affecting the human dignity including human trafficking, Karamoja street children and domestic violence in slums of Kampala.
Strategic objectives of the Advocacy department for 2015 – 2018
- To equip the youth with knowledge and skills of environmental protection, preservation and to use the environment profitably
- To contribute towards quality health and education services delivery in Uganda
- To promote Civil Liberty in the country
- To contribute in influencing free and fair elections in 2016
Advocating for transparency and improved service delivery
Advocacy in the area of health
As part of JPIIJPC’s commitment to advocate for improved health services for the most marginalized in society a project entitled: Advocacy for transparency and accountability to improve health service delivery in the North- and North-Eastern Uganda was started from August 2014 and will cover for a period of five years with support from Trocaire. The overall goal of the project is geared towards women and men in North and North Eastern Uganda access improved health services from more accountable local and national governments. Specifically, the project will be implemented in the 4 districts in the Catholic Dioceses of the North and North Eastern Uganda: Amuru District of Gulu Diocese; Otuke District of Lira Diocese; Ngora district of Soroti Diocese, and Moroto District of Moroto Diocese.
Health care service delivery, like other social services deteriorated considerably during the over 20 years of insurgency in the Northern region. The region continues to face serious challenges in health service delivery. The challenges are related to availability and accessibility of health services, especially by the rural population. World Health Organization Uganda country report 2012/2013 indicated that only 30% of the population in the Acholi sub region lives within 5km of a functional health facility. The dire situation is compounded by weak accountability mechanisms
The underlying causes to lack of transparency and accountability are: poor health policy implementation or adherence, culture of impunity, lack of community participation during planning, weak oversight institutions e.g. parliament, civic incompetence, personal greed, and weak accountability mechanism. The lack of community awareness on basic rights has been compounded by prolonged civil war and lawlessness in the region, limited access to relevant information and disinterest from duty bearers to create awareness among the community, and lack of political will. Again, limited community oversight is brought about by personal greed, ignorance, low literacy, lack of access to information, running away from responsibilities by duty bearers.
Against the above background that JPIIJPC would like to influence duty bearer’s responsiveness through lobbying and advocacy for improved health service delivery. Similarly, JPIIJPC would like to enhance the capacity of its partners and community members to demand for better health services. JPIIJPC intends to address these challenges through initiating the following advocacy activities:
- Comprehensive studies on status of health service delivery,
- Launch and dissemination of the findings on status of health services,
- Organize lobby meetings,
- Organize open forum discussions,
- Conduct radio talk shows and community debates with both duty bearers and right holders
- Conduct radio opinion polls with Track fm
- Build and enhance the capacity of Justice and Peace Committees (JPC) staff, diocesan media staff and the community monitors.
Youth Empowerment Project
Through support from the Italian Episcopal conference, JPIIJPC will be implementing a 3 years project of empowering young people in the dioceses of Moroto, Lira, Soroti and Gulu. The project has its background from its programs of UPE monitoring in the north and north eastern Uganda region, civic education program in secondary school and interactions with a number of both direct and indirect beneficiaries that include teachers, local leaders and the young people. The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of youth for sustainable social-economic development with greater attention to the environment. The project will address a number of challenges facing the young people today, which include: lack of marketable knowledge and skills for the current job market, unemployment, lack of mentors’ they can look up to in addressing individual and group conflicts in a nonviolent manner. More to that, the project will also use young people as agents of change to address the increasing destruction of the environment in the north and north eastern Uganda characterized by rampant cutting down of trees. The project will work in collaboration with the diocesan youth structures, the Justice and Peace Commissions and the diocesan media. A number of activities will be used to address this through a number of interventions that include:
Training of youths in various topics that include: entrepreneurship, environment, leadership, advocacy and conflict resolution etc
Formation of individual and group business plans
Mentoring and continuous follow up exercises to support formed groups
Assessment of group business plans and award of business grants
Use of media such as radio talk shows to increase awareness about key issues affecting youth and the communities they come from
Networking and collaboration strategy with the diocesan structures of youth Chaplains and Justice and Peace Coordinators
- Youth Empowerment Project
- Lobbying and Advocacy Initiatives to Improve Maternal Health
- Police Project
Over the last three years 2014- 2017, JPIIJPC has been implementing a project entitled: “Strengthening youth capacity for sustainable social economic development with great attention to the Environment”. The geographical location of the project has been in the North and North Eastern Uganda dioceses of Soroti, Gulu, Lira and Moroto. The need for this project had its background from the desire to empower youth to preserve the environment in their areas by establishing environmentally friendly small businesses to support themselves and their community.
The project targeted youth who are extremely vulnerable in the labor market due to their low-level of job-related experience, lack of capital & entrepreneurial skills which has consequently impacted on their way of life through poverty, long-term dependency on family members & alienation hence exclusion from the society. Therefore in order to change the existing statuesque, JPIIJPC aimed at equipping youth with knowledge and skills to advocate for effective social, economic and environmental sustainability in the future generation through establishing environmentally friendly businesses. As a result over the last three years, the youth across the various dioceses of Soroti, Lira, Gulu and Moroto have been able to establish a number of personal businesses namely: poultry, piggery, commercial growing of cassava, selling of second hand clothes, fruit growing of oranges and mangoes, etc. The businesses have been able to improve their welfare through provision of a regular income. On the other hand, the youth have been able to provide for their family’s needs i.e. food, medical care, school fees etc.
It should also be noted that individual households of the youth and the neighboring communities are now more conscious about environmental conservation where some have even planted eucalyptus trees to conserve the environment.
One of the biggest challenges that has affected this project since its start has been the changing priorities among the youth. Some of the youth have preferred going back to school for further studies and this has affected the commitment of some youth groups, Secondly, others have migrated to other urban centers to look for better employment.
Secondly, there has been rampant early pregnancies among the girls who were part of the beneficiaries of this project. This has been rampant in the dioceses of Gulu, Soroti and Moroto. To some extent this is attributed to absence of guidance and counselling in the individual families of the youth. On the other hand early drop out of school left some girls redundant in their communities with limited options apart from getting married.
Unpredictable weather conditions characterized by severe drought in the entire north and north eastern dioceses of Lira, Gulu, Soroti and Moroto. Shortage of rainfall affected agricultural production yet more than 80% of the people in this area heavily depend on farming as a source of income.
General poverty in various individual households of the youth brought about untold suffering. This situation was characterized by lack of food and other supplies to support the family yet even the assumed source of income which in this case was farming had been affected by limited rainfalls.
Leadership remains a challenge at the grassroots level in all the dioceses of Lira, Gulu, Soroti and Moroto. This is attributed to the limited or no education of some youth in the community,
Therefore, through our interventions we have observed that, training the youth on leadership and other basic skills will encourage them to champion the development of their communities and reduce dependency.
Youth groups require routine support, supervision and follow-up if they are to meet the set targets. This is only possible through continuous monitoring through field support visits and interaction on a one –one basis to ascertain areas of strength and weaknesses for individual youth groups.
There is need to conduct pre-assessment of the target youth beneficiaries to ensure the most needy youth benefit from the project. In this respect, a process for selecting beneficiaries should be put in place with a clear criteria on the actual target group.
Broad community involvement is important for positive youth development. We have observed Community members, including parents, teachers and business people, can serve as educators, trainers, and mentors for the youth. For instance in Bala parish lira diocese and Minakulu parish in Gulu diocese the parish priest and the lay people from the neighboring community have helped to facilitate linkages to markets, employment opportunities, and networks for the youth. In addition, they have offered valuable support and encouragement to youth during tough times.
In a bid to influence duty bearers at the local government level to take action on the status of maternal health services, JPIIJPC together with its partners conducted a number of activities in Ngora and Nakapiripirit (10th-14th July 2016) and in Otuke and Amuru (25th-29th July 2016).
The activities conducted included: Lobby meetings, Community debates and Radio talk shows on Radio Pacis 101.4 fm in Gulu and Aisa 92.3 fm in Ngora respectively. Key participants in these activities included political leaders at the district level, technical staff working in the health -maternal health department, men and women at the community levels. One of the primary objectives of these lobbying and advocacy initiatives was to raise awareness about the current status of maternal health services, gaps, challenges, and available opportunities for women and men to exploit to demand for improvement of these services. Additionally, to identify efforts outlined by the districts in the financial year 2016/2017 regarding allocating funds for maternal health services. JPIIJPC also envisioned using this opportunity to lobby policy makers to prioritize maternal health issues in the various deliberations during council meetings/sessions.
Lobbying and Advocacy initiatives are key areas of our work carried out specifically to engage duty bearers and right holders to debate on key concerns affecting the people at the grassroots and there by agree on solutions to such challenges.
Consequently as a result of our lobbying and advocacy initiatives with technical and political leaders in the districts of Amuru, Ngora, Otuke and Nakapiripirit district a number of key achievements, challenges and areas of improvement were highlighted and these included:
During the radio talk show at Aisa 92.3 fm together with the staff of JPIIJPC and the District Director of Health Services Dr. Emmanuel Eilu as a guest speaker many issues of key importance to maternal health were raised from listeners. He started by appreciating the efforts undertaken by JPIIJPC and other CSOs to educate women and men about maternal health services and the role each individual can play to reduce on the number of maternal deaths. He stated that there are many challenges faced by the district in this area however, a lot has been done through partners like UNICEF, Baylor Uganda and the Ministry of Health. The most outstanding is the availability of an operating theatre at Ngora Health Centre IV, accommodation for midwives and regular supply of maternal health supplies from partners .That said there still exists many gaps and challenges. Therefore, he recommended the following to the community members:
Women and men should consider undertaking early ante-natal care services so as to detect any illnesses that may affect the health of the mother and child at an early stage
Families need to consider family planning and have children they can easily feed and effectively take care of
Families need to think of alternative sources of income to enhance their livelihoods e.g. he encouraged women to form SACCOs as networks to support each other
Men should take an active role to support their women to attend ante-natal visits
Pregnant mothers should eat a balanced diet characterized with fruits and other nutrients
JPIIJPC in collaboration with a number of partners have been contributing towards improving police – public relationship through implementation the project entitled “Strengthening a collaborative partnership between the police and civil society in ensuring security, law and order”. Following the various engagements in different regions including Kampala North and East, in 2015, JPIIJPC continued the implementation of the project in Kampala South.
In 2015, the Centre implemented the following activities:
Regional Police Trainings
Training of 60 police officers. The trainings took place from; 4th – 6th and 17th – 19th March 2015, 21st – 23rd April and 28th to 30th April 2015 at Eastern Route Hotel, Kireka – Kampala. The trainings aimed at contributing to police professionalism to ensure law and order by addressing the missing knowledge and skills gaps. The trained participants included: Division Police Commanders (DPCs), Community Liaison Officers (CLOs), Officers In charge of Operations (OCOs), Officers In-charge of Station (OCSs), and Officers in charge of Criminal Investigation Department (OCCID)).The line commanders were from 10 police posts/stations in Kampala South i.e. (Kajjansi, Nsangi, Entebbe, Kabalagala, Katwe, Mutundwe, Nabisaalu, CPS, Nabbingo, KMP South headquarters.
During the trainings, the topics were facilitated by resource persons from JPIIJPC, ACCU, NBS TV, Makerere University department of political science and the Uganda Police Force.
The topics trained on include; public order management and civil liberties, the Anti Torture act, the role of police in the electoral process: examining the principles and practice, the prospects of community policing, management of police operations, police and journalism, policing and human rights, controlling institutional corruption, criminal investigation, policing and the daily lives of people, police public accountability.
Key issues discussed in depth during the trainings equipped the police officers with knowledge about laws and their roles during elections, the role of police during public assemblies and demonstrations, how police officers should account to the members of the public from whom they derive their mandate. The trainings also helped the officers to clarify a number of issues regarding: how police officers should regulate public assemblies and demonstrations in a manner that does not interfere with civil liberties, how to reduce the allegations of rampant corruption in the Uganda police force and better approaches to fighting institutional corruption, better ways of handling investigations and handling suspects without torture.
After the training, the trained police officers’ committed themselves to the following action points: changing the way they deal with the community, Legality of their actions and working within the PLANN and senior officers sensitizing their junior personnel about the rule of law (Multiplier effect).
Recommendations: Equipping officers with alternative means of interrogation other than torture, extending the trainings to junior police officers, counselling of officers to address work related psychological trauma, Police should intensify its community policing initiatives in order to enhance the community’s appreciation of their role and that of the police, sensitizing the public also on respect for human rights and the laws.
Verbal Judo Training
30 line commanders from Kampala South who were part of the previously trained group of police officers were trained on another concept commonly known as Verbal Judo (tactical communication) by a trainer from Minimum Force Institute from South Africa from 6th to 8th July 2015. This was followed by training for 55 junior police officers from 9th to 11th July, from Kisugu and Kabalagala police stations on the same concept. During the trainings, the police officers were equipped with knowledge and skills on: The law of Enforcement, basic force options, conflict and peace phrases, the art of listening, representation, conflict resolution and mediation, how to apply appropriate force options, how to manage a confrontation and inappropriate actions of fellow officers, proper use of body language, how to take over or interrupt a heated conversation without causing resistance and how to handle verbal abuse, among others.
By the end of the trainings, the police officers confessed that it was a very educative, practical session based on real life experiences that helped them increase their confidence, morale and zeal during the execution of their duties. It equipped them with skills and a new approach to handle situations professionally, and the ability to defend themselves in case of an attack. The officers also anticipated that the knowledge obtained would help them reduce their stress and also to reduce the gap between the police and the public resulting from better communication.
Radio Talk Shows and Community Debate
John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre continues to use the media through radio talk shows as platform for social change in the communities. Through a project entitled: Strengthening Collaborative Partnership between the Police and Civil society, the centre builds the capacity of police officers through training in various topics that improve their professionalism. This is complimented with radio talk shows on various radio stations that include: Dembe radio, Akaboozi radio, Radio One, Metro FM etc. Through radio talk shows many marginalized communities in Kampala have realized a significant impact.
In Nsambya one of the outskirts surrounding the city; a group of more than 100 women has taken keen interest in following radio talk shows conducted between the staff of JPIIJPC and various police officers. Consequently, members in this group have been empowered to become advocates for women’s rights and other related health relates issues affecting women. Besides that, radio talk shows have also provided a platform for the public to air out their grievances to the police especially on key issues that have not been resolved well. The chairperson of the group emphasized that radio talk shows have helped in bringing community needs to the attention of the police and other stakeholders and this is a great milestone in her work with women in this group.
The group was also sensitized on the different types of crime including civil and criminal cases and where such crimes could be reported. Furthermore, related topics discussed included the Anti-Torture and circumstances a police bond can be given to a person. A representative from FIDA explained the gender stereotyping, gender analysis and gender division of labour and its implications, domestic violence, the types, handling domestic violence cases and provisions in the law to protect women against the vice.
During the debate women also highlighted a number of issues that hinder reporting their grievances to police. Among them included the poor police- community working relationship, fear to be detained for more than the constitutional hours in jail, mismanagement of files, impartiality, increasing demand for bribes etc.
Launch of the findings for the study entitled: Maternal mortality a human rights challenge
Capacity building training on lobbying, advocacy and gender for community monitors
Radio talk shows
Lobby meetings with policy makers at the local and national levels in the project areas of Ngora, Otuke, Amuru and Nakapiripirit
- Summary Report on conference held on the Pope Francis’s messages at JP2JPC, December 2015
- UPE Public Debate
A Monitoring Survey Report on the Police – Community Relationship, Clock tower Police post
The launch of anti-corruption campaign, celebrating 50 years of independence
Matany Hospital cut off from Uganda