Ending SGBV/ Child marriages and teenage pregnancies

Ending SGBV/ Child marriages and teenage pregnancies Uganda is currently struggling with child marriages. Studies have ranked Uganda 9th among the top 20 ‘hotspot’ countries for child marriage. In 2013 Uganda was ranked 16th among 25 countries with the highest rates of early marriages; with 46% of girls marrying before 18 years, and 12% before they are 15 years. Data extracted from the 2014 census about child marriages and teenage pregnancies indicate that 8.6% (230,474) of the females aged 12 – 17 years have ever given birth. Western and East Central region registered the highest percent at 9.7% and 9.5% respectively. More girls (8.8%) compared to 2.2% males aged 12 to 17 years were ever married or currently married

To respond to these challenges, Amuria Youth Alliance Development Organization (AYADO) with funding from Capital for Goods USA through Girls First Fund is implementing a project titled ‘Ending Child Marriages and early Unions’ in Amuria District, North Eastern Uganda. The project goal is to End child marriage and teenage pregnancy for prosperity and social economic transformation of Uganda. Currently, 2,000 households are being supported with attitude change, knowledge on proper referral mechanism of child marriage cases, Income Generating Activities (IGAs) agricultural productivity improvement, financial inclusion, skills and enterprise development and through Saving for Transformation (S4T) methodology for vulnerable teenage mothers, Orphans, women living with chronic illnesses especially Hepatitis B and other STIs, girls at risk, disabled girls, widows, school drop outs, and single teenage mother and abandoned girls. .

In light to our reflective approach for ending child marriages, AYADO adopted ‘’Saving for Transformation (S4T) model” based on its earlier finding from the need’s assessment where poverty, poor parenting and inadequate access to financial support ranked highly as the major contributors to child marriages among households in Amuria District.

To respond to these challenges, AYADO piloted ‘’Saving for Transformation (S4T)” model as its yardstick to address this problem among teenage mothers who are predominantly abandoned by their husbands and are living with chronic illnesses especially Hepatitis B and other STIs.

Savings for Transformation (S4T) is an approach being used by AYADO to facilitate access to savings and credit in a small-scale and sustainable way. It’s a methodology that instills hope and contributes to girls’ well-being by enabling members to plan ahead, cope with household emergencies, develop their livelihoods and invest in productive activities. health and education of their children instead of relying on marriage as a source of wealth.S4T is a self-driven approach that centers around voluntary group membership ranging from 15- 30 members each. Members agree on a share value that they save weekly and borrow from to run proactive activities.

Also, members accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings and emergencies. Savings are lent as a credit to earn additional income among members and saving toolkit kept in a safe place under the group management committee. The activities of the group under this methodology run in cycles of one year, after which the accumulated savings and the loan profits are distributed back to members and used for investment in productive activities such as running individual micro-businesses, school fees, and other basic needs. Its purpose is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services.

Unlike Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) approach that focuses on savings only, S4T approach focuses on investments that accrue from the savings. The main objective of this methodology is being able to equip the project participants with access to finance to run their individual micro business and other productive activities. Girls who can access financial resources are able to make decisions about their lives and meet their families’ basic needs and cannot be easily lured into child marriage.

Under our current project, teenage mothers are now able to have hope and improve their well-being by enabling members to plan ahead, cope with household emergencies, develop their livelihoods and invest in productive activities such as health and education of their children among others in the absence of their would-be husbands and the parents’ support. Mobilization of beneficiaries becomes much easier as staff are able to integrate their activities into the meeting work plans of the saving groups

convenient wayAlso, S4T increases the resilience of families by helping them to protect and care for their children by providing a safe and convenient way to save money and access capital at their respective children.

The approach also builds social capital, a major contributing element of community resilience against child marriage.

The modules include topics such as Group formation and General Assembly, S4T concepts and Leadership Elections of Management Committee, Development of Association bye-laws/Internal regulations, Introduction to Record-Keeping, Meeting Procedures & Record-Keeping and Conflict resolution and Action Audit for its effectiveness. S4T groups are owned, managed and operated by the members, using a simple, transparent method whereby groups accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings. The group’s savings can be lent as a credit to earn additional income, kept in a safe place for emergencies, or both.