By Raymond Walusimbi and Joanita Tushabe
Ministry of gender, labour and social development has provided 32 new districts each with a laptop and a modem in a bid to aid their operational work.
The districts which were most recently formed joined 80 others in a government led program to tackle the high levels of child abuse in the country. Representatives from these districts convened for a workshop held at the ministry on Monday to discuss ways of improving their field operations and receive the new laptops.
Under the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) initiative these districts are required to collect report and analyse data concerning child abuse cases. The provision of laptops is a fraction in the scheme aimed at equipping probation officers and other staff in these districts with technologies that can facilitate data collection and transmission.
Assistant Commissioner to the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social development Mondo Kyateka standing in for Hon. Minister Ronald Kibuule, described the measures which include the provision of mobile data to access the internet, as a way to speed up the transfer of information whereby “officers don’t have to come to Kampala to hand in data”.
Information collected by probation officers within these districts will be a product of an improved method of indentifying cases of vulnerable children using the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Status Index. Cases can range from conditions where there is early child pregnancy to malnourishment which all compares to violence against children.
According to Pimer Colleens a probation officer in Zombo district and local government “these cases are sensitive, the index is useful to indentifying the more vulnerable cases” after which she says “once indentified cases are reported to stake holders such as the Police, other local structures and quarterly records are then sent directly to the ministry”
Kyateka insists the development of this database will provide accurate statics that can plan operations to run efficiently. However to realize this goal he urged district staff to avoid being compromised by political forces as they go about their work. District officers on the other hand pointed out that in order to improve their work not only would technology capacity need to expand but human capacity too.
The Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program is an initiative that runs in accordance with the ministry of gender labor and social development and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). A child help line 116 toll free number has been established and a revised Children’s Act is in the pipeline for presentation by the end of the year.