Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ACFODE Weekly News Round Up


Anyone who knew Rebecca Kadaga in the early years of her career would remark at how ironic her initial aversion to relying on a government position as her road to success transformed into a 22-year-long exodus as a National Resistance Movement (NRM) politician. When she opened Kadaga and Company Advocates in 1984 after a stint as legal assistant at Obol Ochola Law Chambers, she seemed set for a life away from government and direct participation in politics. But, the government service she started as the Member of Parliament for Kamuli District in 1989 built up to her current position in the third-highest political office as Uganda's first female Speaker of Parliament.
Madam Speaker
Her landslide victory of 302 votes to Nandala Mafabi's 72 on 19th May 2011 signaled Ugandan MP's readiness to follow her example of putting national interests above party politics. Validation for "the people's speaker" tag came quickly. In April 2012 when Uganda became the first East African country to host the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the world's largest union of 159 national Parliaments, she called on NRM and non-NRM support in showcasing Uganda's positive attributes to the visiting delegates. Read more


Recent violence in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo has forced thousands of people to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring Uganda. In the Ugandan settlements where refugees live, violence against women is a growing concern. The American Refugee Committee has been working with partners and refugee communities to address gender-based violence in the settlements since 2008. ARC recently received supplementary funding from Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration (BPRM) to support its efforts in working with communities to address the issue in four refugee settlements: Kyangwali, Kyaka, Nakivale and Rwamwanja. "With the support of BPRM, we have been able to build a-drop-in center, which acts as a safe haven for survivors of gender-based violence who are at risk of further harm," said Ralf Nico Thill, ARC's Country Director for Uganda.

"The safe house provides shelter to survivors during the period they need medical or legal attention—and its proximity to the health unit and police post makes it easy for survivors to access services timely and appropriately." ARC has helped more than 25,000 refugees who fled to Uganda from five countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya. More than 98% of the refugees living in the settlement are from DRC and Sudan. The BPRM funding supports: Training health workers on clinical management of rape survivors (CMRS), Training partners at Kyangwali refugee settlement camp on caring for survivors of gender-based violence, Comprehensive supplies of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, and Essential supplies for protection houses in three settlements.

Read more


When Catherine Kalembe introduced Emma Mutaka to her parents in Kisozi Village, Kamuli District in 2010 as her fiancé, she was sure a wedding would follow shortly to cement their relationship. However, two years later and without a wedding ring, Ms Kalembe has decided to seek legal recourse, dragging her fiancé to court for allegedly failing to wed her. In what many in Iganga have described as a "strange" case, Ms Kalembe, a resident of Nkono Zone in the municipality, says Mr Mutaka, who is the National Agricultural Advisory Services, (Naads) coordinator for Bukanga Sub-county in Luuka District, should pay for failing to marry her.
In the suit, Ms Kalembe says she went an extra mile to facilitate their introduction ceremony and make it "colourful" with a Shs2 million cash injection—and it is just proper that her fiancé—who "had a small income" then, reciprocates a good turn. In her submission to the Iganga Chief Magistrate, Ms Kalembe laments that Saturday December 17, 2011, should have been her lucky day—when she should have walked down the aisle with her heartthrob. Instead, Ms Kalembe says, she nearly dropped dead when Pastor Kasakya of Iganga Deliverance Church, who was to preside over the function, told her Mr Mutaka had halted the wedding "until further notice". Read more

A survey carried out by independent NGOs has indicated a rise in child trafficking in Karamoja Sub-region. The vice has been attributed to unscrupulous charities that pose as NGOs offering support to vulnerable children in Karamoja. A survey carried out a year ago by Avocats Sans Frontieres (Layers Without Borders) and Federation of Uganda Women Lawyers on the situation of child trafficking in Teso and Karamoja, established that at least 65 per cent of housemaids in the sub-regions are Karimojong children.
"The girls are lured from their homes with a promise that they will be taken to school but end up as domestic servants without the knowledge of their parents," the Katakwi district deputy chief, Ms Margaret Ikulot, said. Ms Ikulot said those involved in the business are mainly women who earn a lot from the 'trade'. "The children are traded for mostly food, which is sent back to their families, while some are rented and others sold," Mr Ikulot said. Mid-Eastern Police Spokesperson Juma Hassan Nyene said many of these children are promised education and provided with shelter but instead they are subjected to a lot of domestic work. Read more

Police are holding a woman who allegedly tried to bribe a Member of Parliament at the House yesterday. The woman, only identified as Rose, was yesterday arrested and handed to police detectives attached to Parliament after allegedly trying to bribe Eastern Uganda Youth MP Peter Ogwang. According to information given to Daily Monitor by a House police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to speak to the press, the woman, who was wearing a blue and white stripped T-shirt, had come to influence Mr Ogwang to drop evidence he is believed to have implicating senior officials in alleged misappropriation of public funds in the Office of the Prime Minister.

"That woman came in here at around 9am and we were called in to arrest her by the bodyguards of the honourable member who said she had tried to bribe the MP," the officer said. "We have already sent her to the main office in town to continue with investigations," he added. While speaking to the detectives in the presence of journalists, Mr Ogwang said the woman telephoned him on Saturday and asked to meet him over the documents he has implicating officials in the OPM in the on-going investigations. Read more


UWONET is pleased to announce the first ever National Women's Week event scheduled for 3rd - 5th October 2012 at Hotel Africana, Kampala. This national event will bring together women, men, institutions, companies and the general public as women of Uganda celebrate their contribution to the country's development in the last 50 years. Several activities are planned to color the event but as well foster networking and deeper reflection on the women's movement in Uganda.

These include among others exhibitions of women's work, award ceremonies, an alliance building conference, parallel dialogues on topical issues, special clinics on cancer screening, family planning, blood donation and legal aid, music, dance and drama performances, movie nights. This will provide space and opportunity for organizations and individuals to dialogue with other actors and show case contribution to changing lives of women in Uganda. Please join us as we promote and celebrate women's accomplishments from across the country. To register for this event please follow this link and fill in the form. Read more https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dG82QzFpN0xYNUhONU1hOE84ZXlmN3c6MQ

Health experts in the east, central and southern Africa have called for new innovation approaches to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates. According to the 2010 UN development report, over 860,000 children and 35,000 mothers died due to complications during birth in the mentioned regions that year. "These figures are high and there should be concerted efforts by medical workers and other stakeholders to bring this down," Dr. Olive SentumbwoMugisa, the family health and population advisor at World Health Organization (WHO) said.

She stressed the need to scale up best practices in midwifery education and practices to strengthen health systems in order to improve maternal health outcomes in the region. Sentumbwo was speaking during the opening of the 6th Best Practices Forum at Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania on Tuesday. The forum attracted over 200 delegates from Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and the US. Read more

The prevalence rate and publicity of HIV/Aids as well as the ongoing efforts to combat it may keep fluctuating. However, that does not or should not make us forget that the scourge is still around. While HIV/Aids does not discriminate between classes and political parties, among others, the burden and toll is huge on the less privileged majority, who no longer die of ignorance about their status, but among other factors, failure to report to their respective service providers for drug refills and not necessarily examination or advanced management. This is mainly due to lack of transport (not the facilities but money to meet the costs). Although TASO and other non-governmental organisations attempted to make physical deliveries of medical supplies to their clients, in addition to general adherence, monitoring and counseling, among others, it was not sustainable in terms of financial and human resource requirements.

This made me think of how convenient and cost effective it would be if we are to make use of postal services. This would require that every home gets a number and post box complete with names of occupants written on the post boxes for easy identification and mail distribution. In Germany where I observed the system, people do not go to post offices to pick their mails. Mails are delivered direct to their post boxes at their doorsteps and there is a deeply entrenched culture of checking the post box almost twice a day. It takes a maximum of two days for any correspondence to reach its destination (recipient). Read more

The number of women using contraceptives in East Africa has risen from 12 million in 2008 to 17 million today, according to a continent-wide study. A study done by African Population and Health Research on the population and use of contraceptives in Africa indicates that among the marrieds, the number of women who use modern methods of family planning has also risen from 20 million to 27 million. The United Nations Populations Fund report 2010 puts the population of East Africa at 131 million people. Presenting the report at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday, Dr. Estelle Sidze, one of the facilitators, said awareness, education and investment were among the highest contributing factors in the use of modern contraceptives.

This was during a meeting by Africa women parliamentarians to discuss issues of leadership, family planning and reproductive health. "Compared to other regions, East Africa is doing somehow well but more funding is needed to help more women, especially in rural areas, access the contraceptives," she said. According Sidze, despite the improvement, the number of women who need but cannot access modern methods of family planning in East Africa has risen from 19 million in 2008 to 20 million. She noted that lack of contraceptives has led to increased school dropouts, death as a result of complicated pregnancies and increased cases of unsafe abortions. The gender minister, Rukia Nakadama, said: "As women leaders, we must continue to call for investment in women and girls' healthcare and monitor how the money is spent." Read more

Uganda politician, Dr. Miria Matembe has said that the proposed nomination fees by the National Election Commission (NEC) will prohibit women from contesting as Councilors, Mayors or Chairmen and Parliamentarians in the November 17 elections. She described the NEC fees proposals as "unfortunate" noting that by this proposals, "it is obvious that women aspirants would be hardest hit." She noted that women going into politics are mostly faced with financial constraints and that that NEC charges will deliberately disenfranchise women aspirants to give way to those men who are rich. "Politics should not be determined by financial status, it should not be determined by who is rich, it about who is popular and who can deliver," Dr. Matembe stated.

Dr. Matembe was a Member of the Uganda Parliament for 17 years and she is a founding member of the Pan African Parliament and was Chair of the Rules and Disciplinary Committee of the Pan African Parliament. Dr. Matembe was once the Minister of Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President of Uganda. Dr. Matembe who was in the country this week to train women aspirants for elective leadership positions in the November 17 elections emphasized that the huge amount for nomination announced by NEC "will leave out women completely from the current elective political race". Part of the veteran politician's job in Sierra Leone was to share her experiences as a politician and to motivate and inspire intending women. Read more

A report released this week by National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU) reveals that there has been gross abuse of rights for women with disabilities (WWDs) mainly in accessing social services in various centers in the country. The report highlights a 43% of WWDs being neglected by their spouses where as others being rejected in public, children have found difficulties in attaining better education and WWDs are neglected by health workers when they go to access medical care, the highest problem being in receiving better maternal health services.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the fisheries minister, Ruth Nankabirwa who read the speaker of parliament's speech stressed that the challenges faced by PWDs have a great negative impact to national development which now calls for the harmonization of laws to address the special group's needs. Kampala MP for WWDs, Safiyah Nalule Juuko decried the lack of better facilities in labour wards for WWDs to deliver safely. Uganda is an equal opportunities country and has tried to make the voice of every social group count. However, more needs to be done to improve the wellbeing of Women With Disability. Read more


Women with Disabilities have Petitioned Parliament demanding their involvement in the Procurement process in the Health sector and other areas so that PWDS are catered for when seeking for services. Under their Umbrella body National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda, while presenting a Petition to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the head of the Delegation Joy Nakyesa said people with disabilities are left out in the decision making and want an upper hand to see that they are brought on board when decision affecting them are being put in place.
The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in her response said a Certificate of Equity from Government should be brought to parliament which will be a basis in taking decision when making laws. She said a focal point in all Ministries should also be established to address issues that affect people with disabilities in the Country. Read more

The Ministry of Health yesterday ruled out claims that contraceptive campaigns are profit driven, highlighting that they continue to save their role - population control. "The contraceptives on the market are achieving their intended reasons. They control birth, and also allow people to work and plan for their families," Dr Asuman Lukwago, the permanent secretary of the ministry, told Daily Monitor. Mr Lukwago said: "It is true that they have side effects such as weight gain in some people but this does not rule out the fact that contraceptives are useful."
The ministry's position came a few days after Dr Brian Clowes, a researcher with Human Life International, was quoted by Citizen, this newspapers's sister paper in Tanzania, calling for the education of Tanzanians about what he suggested are the deadly health effects of contraceptives, which he called "a new form of colonialism." "Family planning through abortion or the use of contraceptives has caused many women and girls to suffer physically and psychologically. A traditional family planning method such as using a calendar is the only safer means," said Clowes. Read more

Leading HIV/Aids researchers and programme implementers in the country have revealed that unless Uganda implements its national HIV prevention and strategic plans, the war against reversing the spiralling infections is far from over. This revelation was made at a public debate on Thursday, where panelists discussed whether Uganda is moving in the right direction regarding HIV prevention. The debate was part of activities to mark 90 years of Makerere University, which has conducted key HIV research over the years.

Coming right on the heels of the 2011 AIDS Indicator Survey, which shows that prevalence has gone up to 7.3 per cent from 6.4 per cent in 2006, turned out not to be a contest between proponents and opponents but rather a rational look at where the country is standing now and what efforts need to be implemented. According to the Director of the Regional Centre for Quality of Healthcare at Makerere University, Prof. Fred Wabwire- Mangen, who was a proponent, although the recent survey shows some changes in behaviour change, the new infections are worrying and call for new thinking. Read more

I keep telling the Lord, in our nightly conversations, that I am glad he made us women strong, loving and able to endure all things, sometimes too many things. But at times I wonder if it is fair. Some days back, I went to see the gynaecologist as I needed to uhm, have her deal with my reproductive system. The last time the procedure had gone okay. Not this time round. First I was worked on by someone I did not know so it was hard to relax and be comfortable as she kept on urging. It got worse when she kept stating that what she was doing was not working. She tried for all of five minutes which is a very long time. She failed and called fellow medical personnel. They tried and failed and called a third person – who was nicer – but she too still failed. All the while I was on the table like a guinea pig being checked, talked over and tugged.
In the end, I was told the procedure could not go on but I should come back another day when it might be easier. I left thinking, "What just happened?" The personnel had only done their job, but I could not help feeling useless, embarrassed and deflated. I thought of the women who give birth in terrible conditions, or who have to, bare their all in small clinics and hospitals, to people who they do not know, people who shout and are rude to them, people who make nasty comments about their body parts. I thought of women who go through this and then go back home to be beaten, cheated on and abused by their partners.

And yet the next day, week, month or year, they trudge back to the clinic to give birth, get contraception or have the problem fixed. Not just for themselves but so that their children will have a healthy mother and their partner will not make noise about them not doing this or that. Read more

Compiled by Sandra Nassali & Esther Namitala
Public Relations & Communications Department
Action For Development
Email: snassali@acfode.org

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Making the numbers work for women’s effective participation in politics

The number of women participating in politics in Uganda today is progressively increasing both at national and local levels. However the celebration of such milestones may be short lived if the numbers do not translate into the emergence and existence of more gender responsive policies and programs both at national and local levels. Such policies and programs are albeit significant for the creation of gender sensitive and equal societies in the future. While women in politics face numerous challenges in execution of their roles and responsibilities, those at local council levels especially the sub counties have their own peculiar woes they grapple with. It is these diverse and multifaceted challenges which down play their effectiveness to adequately front the needs of the people and communities they represent.

In a just concluded training workshop on leadership and management for sub county female councillors conducted on the 7th and 8th August in the districts of Dokolo, Pader and Namutumba under the project “building and amplifying women’s voices in economic and Political development” the constraints local women leaders face in execution of their duties were found to be outstanding. The intentions for which they competed to represent their communities may have been good but the low levels of education which characterise over 90% of these leaders curtails their effective deliberation on key issues. This has been used by the technical people to pass resolutions without the leaders fully understanding the impact such decisions would have on their electorate. Relatedly is the carrying out of their duties without reference books especially those which inform them of their mandates including roles and responsibilities.

Up to 85% of the local leaders were yet to read the Uganda 1995 Constitution and the Local Government Act among other key resource books which are meant to boost their knowledge and consequently effectively deliberate on issues of community interest. These challenges coupled with the low self esteem of the local women leaders has contributed to their dismal participation in council and among their electorate. While a range of programmes to enhance women’s political participation have been undertaken at national levels, this training was an eye opener to a significant reality. Women leaders need to be nurtured and mentored from the grass roots. Once this is done, as they climb the ladder to the national platform it then becomes easy for them to synthesise amongst key issues of community and national interest objectively.

After the two days training there was an appreciation among the leaders of their roles especially giving accountability to their electorate which some had never considered. Additionally was the understanding of how to go about the mobilisation of resources given the resource constrained situations in which they operate.

Amidst the obstacles cited, there are so many opportunities still to tap into by the women leaders for their political presence to be felt. A concerted effort by all actors would make the journey shorter as we help our women leaders get there.

Yossa Daisy Immaculate

Project Officer-FLOW

Action For Development

Email: yossa@acfode.org

Domestic Violence Vis-à-vis Uganda's Middle Class Woman

A few months ago, I was chatting to a Ugandan colleague – an outgoing, outspoken woman in her mid 20s doing well working as a programme officer for a successful NGO in Uganda’s capital city. I note these features to highlight the fact that she would be towards the more privileged, well-educated and outward-looking end of the social spectrum in Uganda. She is currently single but was telling me that she’d like to have 2 children – one boy conceived naturally and one adopted girl. I asked why this was (fearing the worst) and she explained that – in her experience – it is just too hard growing up as a girl in Uganda. At the time, I felt sad that a middle-class, ‘empowered’ Ugandan woman still felt this way – but the more time I have spent here, the more I have come to see her point.

On the face of it, daily life seems equitable enough but Ugandan society is still an essentially patriarchal one. The average Ugandan woman may not have to cover themselves like their lighter-skinned colleagues in Saudi Arabia, but their value is still somehow calculated based on their ability to reproduce and serve men in a household. And though Ugandan law states that women have equal rights in terms of access to education, primary drop-out rates for girls are much higher than those seen for boys. Things are changing but it is a painfully slow process…

Violence against women is a serious problem in Uganda. The 2006 Demographic and Health Survey found that 70% of women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of these acts of violence were committed by an intimate partner.[1] These findings were mirrored in article in the New Vision newspaper a couple of weeks ago which found that 70% of all women interviewed in four districts in the North / East of the country had been beaten by their husbands during the last few months, and a few by their brothers.[2] Research has shown that girls frequently experience coerced sexual initiation in many communities across Uganda, with this often being viewed as a normal part of relationships. Further, though Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was outlawed in Uganda a few years ago, it has not been eradicated – in 2010, researchers found that 200 girls aged 14 to 18 years were forced by their parents to undergo FGM in Pokot region alone.[3]

Before I ponder what this means, I want to say that I am not pretending for one minute that this problem is unique to Uganda. Domestic violence is uncomfortably common in developing countries too, where we are decades further down the gender equality path. The Home Office for example reckon at least 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.[4]

However, the scale of gender-based violence (GBV) here is comparatively vast and seems to reflect an insidiously ‘normal’ imbalance in power across the gender divide. Generally domestic arrangements and girl/boy interactions, I suspect, look rather like they did in the UK fifty plus years ago in many respects… women folk are expected to be focused on raising children and keeping homes tidy / their man well fed, whilst men are free to work and otherwise do as they please. Infidelity is common and is almost expected, but here second marriages (which are legal) are seen as a way of legitimising such arrangements.

Payment of a ‘bride price’ (dowry) is essential almost always. For a few, this is now really only a traditional nicety (I guess like a Western father walking his daughter down the aisle) but for most it reflects a deeply engrained belief that the man is literally purchasing a wife and taking her from her own family to become part of his. Women here therefore say it is best to minimise contact with your own family after marriage because it is seen as being disrespectful to your new parents in-law. This transactional scenario creates a situation where a husband feels entitled to demand anything he wants from his new purchase, and the wife is entirely cut off from any sort of social support should she feel inclined to seek assistance or flee.

Uganda created legislation to criminalise domestic violence in 2010 but high levels of poverty, negative cultural practices, limited access to resources and institutional weaknesses in law enforcement agencies continue to affect women’s rights. Police officers in rural areas would likely not know of the legislation or might even lack paper to register cases if a woman were brave enough to venture into the police station to report an incident. Then there is often just a lack of interest in doing things differently. Most Ugandan men – particularly in rural areas – believe it is a man’s right to discipline his wife… and many women believe that their husband pushing them around is a sign that he truly loves them. These cultural norms are a central feature of Ugandan society and therefore very difficult to shift.

The good news is that there is a relatively vibrant women’s movement in Uganda that is continuing to press for change. ACFODE – the organisation I have been based in here in Kampala – was created in 1985 as the first organised forum to facilitate effective debate and action on issues related to the advancement of women in Uganda. Supported by a range of international donor funding streams, many more have since been created to lobby on key issues and run projects to raise awareness or offer practical support. Following a programme of affirmative action, 100 of the 332 MPs in Uganda’s Parliament are women – though only six of these have made it into the cabinet of 28.[5]

Honestly though, as a Western woman who has lived here for 7 months, it feels as if there is still a mountain to climb. A Marriage and Divorce Bill that was created to guarantee Ugandan women equality in marriage has been frustrated in Parliament again and again because it runs contrary to the existence of various customary and religious practices. Though awareness around GBV and gender equality seems to be spreading slowly, attitudes held by husbands (and wives), young men (and young women), police officers (meant to enforce) and teachers (meant to enlighten) are still fundamentally skewed.

I know change as big as this takes time but it makes me angry to read reports from GBV workshops run by ACFODE where male attendees cite men being denied conjugal rights in marriage as an example of GBV (!), and sad to hear my outgoing, well-educated Ugandan girl friends say they wouldn’t want to be a second wife but they’d rather that than be cheated on forever anyway. It makes me feel thankful for having been born in an environment where gender equality is (generally) a given for me – and then a bit guilty for feeling thankful… and pondersome for Uganda – I hope Uganda’s girls find themselves in a situation like mine (or better!) in three generations time but can’t help but feel there is a great, great distance left to travel.

[1] ACFODE (February 2012), Exploring access to justice through traditional mechanisms and the formal justice system for women who experience violence in Uganda

[2] http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/633164-most-men-in-east-beat-women.html

[3] ACFODE (July 2012), Citizen’s Response in Promoting Violence Free Families – Policy Briefing Paper (DRAFT)

[4] http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/violence-against-women-girls/strategic-vision/

[5] UWONET (September 2010), CSO Alternative Report on Uganda’s implementation of CEDAW

Rebecca Murray: British VSO volunteer

Policy Analyst and M&E Advisor for the ‘Nurturing Young Trees to Make a Thick Forest’ project


Monday, August 6, 2012

ACFODE Weekly News Round-up


Government apologizes to bereaved family.

The minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Daudi Migereko, has appealed for calm and patience, as the government investigates the circumstances under which an expectant mother died due to alleged negligence in Jinja regional referral hospital. The 20-year-old woman, Sharifa Nakato Namubiru, also known as Hajira Nakato, died during surgery on Friday evening, after spending about two weeks in the hospital. The death sparked fury from relatives and patient attendants, as details emerged of a family desperate to save its daughter and medical staff insisting on "cash before service delivery".

"It is unfortunate and we are sorry for this to happen in such a government facility; but allow government carry out its investigations up to a logical conclusion that will help all of us since we are all candidates of the hospital" Migereko said. When the minister visited the maternity ward on Saturday morning, after learning of the incident, there were no nurses or doctors in sight. It, however emerged, that some health workers were trying to conceal their identity. Read more



Having spent three years without a job, the offer was too juicy for her to refuse. She was promised a lucrative part time job in a four-star hotel, an opportunity to study in college to upgrade her qualifications and be paid $1,000, (sh2,500,000) every month. When she insisted that she had no money to pay for the passport, visa and air ticket, she was assured everything would be covered for her. Excited, Mastula Nalubowa alias Mercy Nalubowa ran to her sister she had come to visit in Kibuli and told her the exciting news.

"She was jobless, so the allure of that kind of money was too much. Since we were not going to incur any costs for her travel, we gave her a go ahead," her sister told Sunday Vision. Nalubowa gave the stranger her contacts, plus a passport photo. After three weeks, she was called to pick her passport and travel documents. She was taken to a shrine, undressed and certain rituals were performed on her. She was then given some papers to sign where she was required to repay the syndicate the travel expenses and all the money they had incurred on her. In total the figure was $8000 (sh20,000,000)
Read more


The Ministry of Health yesterday said the country is not yet free from Ebola and asked the public to adhere to the recommended preventive measures in order to safe guard against the deadly disease, which has so far claimed 16 lives and dozens admitted to hospitals. However, the Health ministry spokesperson, Ms Rukia Nakamatte, urged the public and visitors to the country to remain calm as a consortium of health experts have joined the fight. "Ebola is still around but people should be calm because the situation is under control. It is important that everyone adheres to the recommended practices and preventive measures so that we do not register new cases.

We are running advertisements about all the recommended practices," Ms Nakamatte said on telephone. Ms Nakamatte said two new suspected Ebola patients were yesterday admitted to Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale District. This increased the officially reported Ebola cases to 36, of which 24 patients had by yesterday tested negative but were still closely monitored by health officials to clear any further doubts and fears. The rise in the Ebola cases tally comes at a time when there are continued inconsistencies in how the whole Ebola outbreak is being handled. Read more


A combined team of psychosocial experts from Mulago and Butabika hospitals in Kampala has arrived in Kibaale district which has recorded several cases of Ebola heamorragic fever. Psychosocial intervention is the process of helping meet a person's emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs to decrease the traumatic consequences of disasters. Twenty-one people are believed to have succumbed to the deadly haemorrhagic fever, although only three of them were confirmed positive for the virus that causes Ebola. The cause of death of 16 of the initial cases was never established because their blood samples were never collected for testing since their bodies had already been buried.

The remaining five of the 21 are said to have died over the weekend, four in the community and one at the isolation centre. Test results from the samples of the deceased people had not been ascertained by yesterday, but their sicknesses presented with the symptoms exhibited by those who had been found with Ebola. All the five were buried by the health teams. While inspecting Kagadi Hospital on Saturday, the health minister, Dr. Christine Ondoa, announced that risk allowances for the health workers involved in the fight against Ebola will be increased. So far, one health worker, her baby and younger sister are the three people who succumbed to the disease. Read more


When I was much younger, I enjoyed upcountry trips because of the roasted roadside "delicacies" that I fancied a lot and the feeling that in the evening, I would listen to words of wisdom from my parents. For the last nine years or so, however, each trip upcountry has been an expedition with blinds, undertaken to discover stuff less 'historically' significant than the source of the Nile, but insightful enough for me to mention during heavy discussions round raised tables or pots of spiced tea. Last week, I met a young, very light-skinned lady in Kasese, at a place called Bughoye.

I made her acquaintance in a bed - her bed, to be precise, and she didn't say much except to murmur a little bit and then break out into a bawl. She was about 10 minutes old. Her 28-year old mother, Zerina Musoki, named her Kabugho, which I later learnt meant she was the third daughter but Zerina's fifth child. This meeting was fortuitous and fitted the purpose of my trip to Kasese perfectly. This Musoki, her midwife Sister Lavinya explained to my group and I, lost her fi rst child at birth because she hadn't made any antenatal care visits during pregnancy. After that experience, she ensured that every time she got pregnant she made her way to the health centre at least four times during the nine months and ticked off the requirements of a mother wanting a healthy baby. Read more


I recently had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with UNICEF Uganda Deputy Representative, May Anyabolu. Anyabolu gave a passionate presentation about Uganda's history of conflict, the realities of everyday life, and UNICEF programs and initiatives in the country. According to a recent World Bank report, Uganda has both the world's youngest population and the highest youth unemployment rate. Currently, children under 18 years of age account for 54% of Uganda's overall population.

Two decades of war, massive displacement and widespread HIV/AIDS infections and deaths have contributed to this unique statistic. Additionally, the conflict between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army has created a large population of orphans and other vulnerable children, including former child soldiers. Uganda's population has also been steadily growing each year, with nearly 1.5 million babies born in 2011. UNICEF, its partners, and the Ugandan Government have introduced various innovative programs to meet the needs of children, youth and women in Uganda. Education is just one example. Read more



According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2012, currently in Uganda only 0.5 per cent of women of reproductive age are using Intrauterine Contraceptives Devices (IUDs) as a modern family planning method. Given this scenario, Uganda has 45 per cent of family planning unmet need - meaning that there is still need for family planning services in the country. There is ongoing deliberate effort by development partners, the government, and the media to increase demand and supply of IUD. Indeed, such efforts should not stop.

While the IUD is a safe and cost-effective method, use is very low in Uganda and the reasons for this are not well understood. But according to studies conducted by the Ministry of Health, there are three main main barriers that impede IUD and other modern family planning methods use in Uganda. These are rumours and myths about the method; insufficient attention to the method during counselling sessions; and insufficient provider experience with it. IUD can be provided at health centre and ProFam clinics at low cost. It can complement female sterilisation and vasectomy to help women achieve their fertility goals, especially in rural areas. Other advantages are that it is quickly reversible, can be used during lactation and menopause, no adverse reaction to medication, including antiretroviral therapy, and has few side effects. Read more


Parliament has approved government's request to borrow a sh75b loan from the Islamic Development Bank for the construction of a modern, specialized maternal and neonatal health care unit at Mulago Referral Hospital. State minister for finance Aston Kajara said the loan was expected to reduce high maternal and neonatal deaths in the country.

"The country requires investment from development partners to address the requirements of modernizing and expanding its health services, infrastructure and systems to sustain the MDG gains. Uganda will not reach health related targets set for child and maternal mortality reduction unless reforms in the health sector are done," Kajara said. Kajara added said that Uganda is expected to achieve some of the MDGs targets related to poverty reduction, HIV/Aids, universal school enrollment and gender inequality. Maternal mortality stands at 453 deaths per 100,000 births. Read more



THE deadly Ebola virus has so far killed 14 people in western Uganda including one from Kampala, according to Ugandan health officials. 'Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute … have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever,' the Ugandan government and the World Health Organisation said in a joint statement. President Yoweri Museveni has today called on people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly virus spread to the capital.

He also said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital - the main referral hospital in Kampala - are in quarantine after "at least one or two cases" were taken there. Health officials told reporters in Kampala that the 14 dead were among 20 reported with the disease. Two of the infected have been isolated for examination by researchers and health officials. A clinical officer and, days later, her four-month-old baby died from the disease caused by the Ebola virus, officials said. Read more



The health ministry says sh3b is needed to fight the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever. This includes the money needed to run the operations centre at the health ministry and to trace and care for all the reported cases and for local governments, the health ministry has said. Five ebola cases have been confirmed to date, three of whom are dead, the ministry said. However, 13 other people connected with these in Kibaale died and were buried before their samples could be collected.

Health minister Christine Ondoa told journalists Friday that 32 cases were being investigated, while 312 others, who had contacts with the suspects were being monitored. She said an inter-ministerial task force, as well as the national task force on Ebola, had been formed, the latter headed by the health ministry. Ondoa said the ministry was also working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centre for Diseases Control, Medicine San Frontiers, Uganda Red Cross and others, to contain the outbreak. Read more



International and local medical experts have agreed to undertake a fresh comprehensive research study in Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania to gather more information about the mysterious nodding syndrome. The exact cause of nodding disease is still alien to both international and local medical experts. So far, the mysterious disease has claimed the lives of some 200 children in northern Uganda and affected scores of families.

Previous research studies undertaken by international health organizations have failed to establish the actual cause of the nodding syndrome. It is associated with repetitive head nodding and convulsions. Experts who have been attending an international scientific conference on nodding disease that ended Thursday this week at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala have resolved to conduct a fresh study to obtain more relevant information. Read more



Vice-president Edward Ssekandi has expressed concern over the rising cases of cancer in the country. Ssekandi was on Thursday speaking at the handover ceremony of a sh1.3b cancer ward being constructed by the Rotary Fraternity in Uganda, in partnership with Centenary Bank and Nsambya Hospital. Ssekandi hailed Rotarians for the initiative to fight cancer and offer treatment to patients. "Uganda is one of the countries where cancer has had its toll. People have good reason to worry about cancer because treatment is ineffective and expensive," he said.

The visiting president of Rotary International, Sakuji Tanaka, officiated at the handover ceremony of the first phase of the Rotary cancer ward yesterday. The first phase cost sh400m. He also participated in a free medical outreach at Hope Clinic, Lukuli-Nanganda in Makindye division where women were offered free breast and cervical cancer testing. Sakuji commended Rotarians for identifying people's needs and for providing free cancer screening. Read more



Uganda now has the capacity to manage future Ebola outbreaks, the prime minister, Amama Mbabazi has said. "Uganda has suffered three previous outbreaks of ebola and we've built reasonable capacity to manage it. Help from external partners has arrived," Mbabazi said. Mbabazi however said vigilance must be maintained until the lifespan of the disease of 21 days has been completed. He was responding to questions this morning on twitter about Ebola, the deadly haemorrhagic fever that was first reported in Kibaale District, over 200km west of Kampala last Saturday.

"We have activated machinery for mass mobilization. There should therefore be no panic as I am confident that we shall contain the situation," Mbabazi said. He revealed that of the 30 people admitted only two have been confirmed to have the deadly virus. Mbabazi said that the total number of contacts with infected people so far is 232 and that all are being monitored. Meanwhile a team of experts from health ministry, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in Kibaale to support the response operations. Read more



The current rains across the country are expected to continue for the next three weeks in August.They will be followed by El Nino starting from late September or early October. This, Deus Bamanya, aprincipal meteorologist, says is likely to expose people living in highland areas such as Mt. Elgon to landslides and floods in parts of West Nile.

He, however, added that food harvest in northern Uganda was likely to be good because of the favourable rainy season. Other parts of the country, including parts of southwestern Uganda and Lake Victoria region, are currently experiencing intermittent rains (rain separated by dry spells). Bamanya described the rains as good for farmers who planted late in central and eastern Uganda. "We expect northern Uganda and eastern Uganda, particularly around Mt. Elgon, to receive above normal rains in the coming three weeks," he said. Read more



At a time when Uganda is struggling with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever and the mysterious nodding disease, it is commendable that there is hope elsewhere - for cancer patients. Last week, Rotary Uganda and Centenary Bank opened the first phase of the Rotary Cancer Ward at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya. Aptly dubbed "Bridging the Cancer Gap Initiative", the 32-bed modern ward project, likely to be completed before the end of the year, should mark a significant step in fighting cancer in the country.

Contrary to popular belief, cancer is common in developing countries, including Uganda, but our health sectors are not adequately equipped to respond to different cancer cases. Also, awareness about types of cancer, the symptoms and causes are lacking. Therefore, it becomes difficult to detect cases early enough to contain treatable ones. As the Rotary International president, Mr Sakuji Tanaka, rightly said at the opening ceremony of the cancer ward, there is need to focus on poor people who may not afford cancer treatment. Read more



The outbreak of the Ebola haemorrhage more than two weeks ago in parts of western Uganda has underlined some deep-cutting weaknesses in our capacity to handle emergencies let alone epidemic-related ones. It is not the first time that Uganda suffers an outbreak of Ebola and the possibility of recurrence has always been there given the history of the epidemic and the environment we are exposed to.

Uganda has had a fair share of unpredictable emergency situations but we never seem to have the capacity to manage them be they road accidents, fires, landslides, collapsed buildings, floods, etc. In the case of Ebola, President Museveni announced caution and warned against physical contacts. While the announcement was a welcome to prevent further infections, it also caused panic. The management of information has been the most haphazard, and consequently, the picture painted about the prevalence of the epidemic is rather alarmist both within the country and outside. Read more



The US government is concerned about Uganda's increasing HIV prevalence rate and the fact that the country, hitherto praised for her efforts in combating the pandemic, is the only one in Sub-Saharan African where prevalence is rising instead of dropping. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who was on a visit to Uganda on Friday, said while America recognises the strides Uganda made in the 1990s when HIV prevalence dropped from 20 percent to seven percent, prevalence is now rising, with more than half a million new infections every year, according to the new Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey.

"In 1990, Uganda had the best programme in the world. We saw how prevalence could drop drastically. However, I am here because I am worried. New infections are on the rise again," Ms Clinton said during her visit to Reach-out Mbuya HIV/AIDS Initiative. The US government is the biggest funder for HIV programmes in Uganda, through its President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The US government recently committed $25m to help Uganda eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission and, today, these services are present in 35 percent of health facilities in Uganda. More than 300,000 Ugandans are receiving treatment through PEPFAR. Read more



Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, Rosette Tusiime, a small scale business woman thought she was carrying one baby. So did the nurses that were catering to her during anti-natal. She explains that she did not go for a scan because of the fear that she might find out that she was carrying a girl and yet she wanted a boy. However, on June 13, 2011, shortly after the caesarian section, when the doctors announced to the half-awake mother that she had two boys, she was filled with joy. "But as the doctors carried out the twins from my womb, I noticed that they were joined. I was in shock." Tusiime intimated while breast feeding her twins at Mulago hospital, last year.

In Uganda, conjoined or Siamese twins were rarely heard of. Apart from a pair that was born over 15 years ago, we had since not heard of such twins in Uganda until last year in June and then this year still in June. According to Dr Henry Bukenya, a gynaecologist at Mulago Referral Hospital, conjoined twins are identical twins. "They are of the same sex, look alike and are joined. They can be joined at the umbilical cord, the trunk or chest, while others can be joined at the head." Read more




The woman makes the home. However much we want to fool ourselves that the home is made by two people, the role of the man is more symbolic. Everything that matters is done behind the scenes, by the woman, even though the man most of the time hogs the glory. So, to me, if the woman can remember that she is the home maker, and can multi-task her job and work, so that none feels neglected, I have no reason to complain.

I would sigh in relief if she said she was tired of sitting at home being pretty and now wanted to work. A two-salary family obviously beats a one-salary one, so, she can work. The limits would be if the job is seriously putting a dumper on the way the home is being run. It is assumed we both have assignments and we must get certain things done at home. If time and again, I am doing her side of things, we need to rethink this whole work thing.

It would be the limit if she had to go away all the time. This would tie in relationships at work and what she shares about us with her workmates.


On this whole career woman/family woman issue, I will admit to being a little confused. I'm of the view that if someone has gone to school and seen it through, they most probably had ambitions and dreams to fulfill. Now, making them sit at home to raise my children and tend the home is not the reason they got that degree. It is most certainly not the reason their parents forked out millions to send them to the best schools. They would have sent them to Kisakaate and be done with it. Read more



Based on my research and product testing, I recommend baking soda. Unpleasant as it feels, it is quite effective and some dentists recommend it. It also keeps your breath fresh. Better still, you can mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to fight tobacco and coffee stains. Mix to make a paste, brush with it and rinse with clean water. Lemon juice, a mild acid, is also a good stain breaker.

In as much as these remedies can be effective, do not permanently replace them for your toothpaste. Find the best toothpaste that will meet your needs, while applying one of these above every once in a while. Change your toothbrush every time you feel like the bristles are not strong enough (preferably monthly). Endeavour to also to alternate toothpaste to tuckle stubborn bacteria form thriving in the mouth. Good luck! Read more


Compiled by

Sandra Nassali & Esther Namital

Public Relations & Communications Department

Action For Development


ACFODE Partners with Secondary Schools in bid to combat GBV

Teachers are central in the lives of school children. To a large extent, they are their custodians since they spend a bigger part of the day with them. On average, Ugandan children spend almost 16 years attending school. As such, teachers have a lot of influence on the lives of these children and thus need the knowledge and skills to be able to exert the right influence.

Consequently, in order to enhance the capacity of teachers to understand the concept of human rights and to equip them with skills for identifying and dealing with gender based violence (GBV), in the month of July ACFODE carried out pre-visits in the districts ofKaabong, Kotido, Moroto, katakwi, Kanungu and Mubende to identify secondary schools that would be trained and partnered with in bid to combat GBV and also advance reproductive health. The activity, which sought to assess the knowledge base of participants (students, teachers and school leadership) on GBV was part of the 7th GOU/UNFPA Country Program under the Gender Component that seeks to increase access to quality GBV management services.

Pic 1. Students during a group-work session on GBV. Pic 2. Some of the students making a presentation on their understanding of GBV

Towards the conclusion of the assessment exercise, the adjustment in the way participants discussed GBV illustrated the fact they now possessed an understanding of the different forms of GBV in schools and in their communities, what their causes and effects were, and the role they would play in combating them.

One of the most outstanding training was the one carried out in Karamoja region in the districts of Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, and katakwi. It was described as the most "interesting and yet despondent task" ever undertaken by the ACFODE team that travelled there because apparently, the region is infamous for its bad roads.

All in all, this activity was worthwhile despite the Karamoja experience as it added a lot of value towards ACFODE's fight for gender equality. Participants' awareness levels on issues to do with GBV were enhanced and we are positive that they will pass on the acquired knowledge and also use it to create the desired change in schools, and in their local communities.

Sandra Nassali

Public Relations & Communications Officer

Action For Development


Photo Credit: Andrew Ssekirevu